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Ushuaia, Argentina

The Time Capsule of Ushuaia

This plaza at the end of the world teems with monumental tributes to a problematic history, and laser discs. 

Despite its location in remotest Patagonia, where locals and tourists alike jokingly refer to it as “The End of the World,” the resort town of Ushuaia hasn’t been spared the more complicated phases of South American history. Yet reminders of many of these troubled periods can be found together in one small public park filled with statues commemorating the passage of Argentine history here, at the “southernmost city in the world.”

The first of three memorials depicts the darkest stage of the Patagonian town’s history. Named “Ona en acecho,” or “The Stalking Ona,” it portrays a figure kneeling on a rock, and was intended as an homage to the indigenous tribes that founded the former village that would become modern Ushuaia. Erected in 1984, the statue was commissioned to mark the centennial of the city’s founding. Though commemorating a landmark birthday for the town, the stand atop which the figure is perched appears to be suffering from a lack of care.

Located just behind Ona sits an entire building dedicated to local handicraft inspired by ancient indigenous culture and artisans. Its official name is “El paseo de los artesanos,” or “The Passage of the Artisans.” Wandering its halls, visitors are invited to peruse the works and wares of local peoples. Most everything contained therein is available for purchase.

Immediately to the rear of this indoor market sits what can only be described as a massive concrete pyramid. Since its burial in 1992, this has been the location of the Time Capsule of Ushuaia. The Capsule consists of a hermetically-sealed container packed with six laser discs of television shows from the 1990s and hundreds of written messages collected from all corners of Argentina. These messages are each addressed to the people of Ushuaia, and dated 2492, 1,000 years after Columbus discovered America.

Inscribed on the Time Capsule’s headstone it contains no mention of the former indigenous tribes that can no longer be found on the continent by the ancestors of modern-day Argentina. However, these words do appear in bold: “The content of the Time Capsule was created to show parts of our present ways of thinking.”

This, rather unfortunately, seems a fair statement.

Know Before You Go

Located at the crossing of Maipu and Comodoro Augusto Laserre, behind the taxi station.