Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the world, is not a remote and barren land but a place of intoxicating beauty.
Let's begin at the end.
Day's end. Seems right, arriving, as we are, at the world's end.
Our plane is skimming above an infinite pile of white, fluffy clouds toward Ushuaia, the southernmost city on the planet. In the distance, a molten sun liquefies the fleece into bubbling, fiery orange and turns the sky crimson. Glimpsed through the clouds, the island-studded pastel-blue waters of the Strait of Magellan shimmer in the waning light.
I beam thought waves to my 15-year-old son, Sam, whose poofy brown 'fro I spot a few rows up. Are you seeing this? I am hoping that he has set his book down. It is a painful wish, given the many times I have implored him to pick a book up.
My wife, Jessica, is seated next to Sam. I try telepathy on her, too. Make sure you guys see this, I keep repeating. Make sure you guys see this.
As I gape at the descending sun, our plane is swallowed for a couple of minutes by the clouds, and everything turns white. When we emerge a few minutes later, the sun is gone, leaving behind a magenta glow. A mountain range rivets my attention. Enormous and brooding in the gathering gray light, it slides down into a raggedy shoreline that disappears into the now-silvery water.
The plane is absolutely silent.
We fly directly over an expanse of black water and head toward a twinkling of lights in the foothills ahead. The plane slips onto the runway in a wink.
"Did you see that?" I ask excitedly when I catch up with my family in the airport.
"See what?" Sam says.
"See what? That incredible sunset. I couldn't believe it. Did you see it?"
"Oh, yeah. It was amazing."
"Amazing? It was more than amazing. It was … I don't know … really unbelievably amazing. Jessica, did you see it?"
"Yes, yes," she replies. "I saw it. Couldn't take my eyes off it. Just beautiful. Do you know where we get our luggage?"
"Our luggage? I'm talking about that incredible sunset. Did you see it?"
"Yes, I told you I saw it. Now, we need to get our luggage."
"But could you believe it? You don't seem to think it was amazing."
"Jim, it was amazing. But you don't seem to want to hear me."
"I'm hearing you. You want our luggage."
"I mean about the sunset. You want to tell me how to feel about it. You always do that."
"No, I don't," I reply. "Always do what?"
"Tell me what I should think."
"She's right, Dad," Sam chimes in.
"Right? About what?"
"About telling us what to think."
"I can't believe you guys. I'm just trying to share my enthusiasm, and you guys are just...I do not tell you what to think."
"You do, Dad."
"Yeah, well, if I do, and I am not saying I do, it's because I'm usually right."
Jessica and Sam look at each other and roll their eyes.
"Let's just find the luggage," Jessica says.