Tierra del Fuego or Land of Fire in Bulgarian. This is an island situated at the most southern part of Argentina and Chille and as you have understood it can be reached with a ferry through the Strait of Magellan. The name of the island derives from the period when the first European colonizers have won its shore.

When they have crossed the strait they saw many fires on the shores. These were the fires of local Indians who on their behalf have had a very long journey from Asia about 10 000 years ago. They consisted mainly of 3 tribes with a very small number – about 2000 up to 5000 people. Due to the humid weather the normal clothes weren’t suitable for them and that’s why they were walking almost naked – they would spread sea lion’s blubber on their skin and use only fur cloaks, and most of the time they would be by great fires.

The people from one of the tribes were good cannoe masters and the fire had accompanied them even on the vessel. As a consequence of the colonizing invasion the local population has almost entirely disappeared and the one today, as it is at the rest of the country, consists mainly of European settlers.

At the beginning of the past century the most common manner for stimulating of the settlement was giving away land to the European immigrants – something that happens all over Patagonia and that has resulted in today’s estancias that own ten or even hundred of hectars. The biggest estancia on the island – Maria Beeti is located not far away from Rio Grande – one of the three principal cities on the island. That estancia owns more than 100 000 sheep. Naturally the sheep are used for wool yield, which makes Argentina one of the biggest exporters of wool on a world scale, and nearly 60% of the wool comes from Patagonia.

Today the settlement is encouraged through law taxes and fees – it is very cheap to have a car. The annual taxes are minimal and the cars are imported duty-free, as well as anything else. Even the fuel prices are lower than the normal ones for the continent. As a result the industry at Rio Grande in the recent years develops at accelerated rates and the city grows. The buildings are low and they use mainly wooden and metal constructions. In spite of the cold climate they do not give weight to heat insulation. The roofs are made of plastic or laminated iron, the walls are of plaster concrete and at places they don’t even use glass. As a compensation the gas is cheap and the electric stoves scorch all day long and that is not too expensive even for the people with not such a high income. The expansion of the city is somehow a premise for a crime growth, the latter one being a not familiar tendency, but things are still under control and there are no clearly accentuated poorneighbourhoods and population in the cities.

As an addition to all those nice things the salaries on the island are also higher than those on the continent. Working as a tutor at a private school is handsomely paid in here – 5-6000 pesos, which is about 1000 EUR.

But all good things take their toll and here the price you have to pay are both the remoteness and climate. The people are few and very isolated on the island because in order to leave it you have to pass about 300 kilometers, cross the frontier twice and cross the strait as well.

Almost all the time through the year the weather is cold. The winter is long, dark and snowy – the sun rises at about 10 in the morning and goes down at about five. As a compensation the summer days are long – the sunrise is very early and the sunset is about 10. Most of the night the sky remains light. Nevertheless the peak temperatures do not exceed 15 degrees and the weather is very changeable. Today as I was writing that story it was sunny, an hour later the rain turned to sleet, then it stopped and after that it started raining without wind. Then the sun rose and right now it is just cloudy. Last night the temperature was degrees and it is just the beginning of the summer.

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