Sooo Igauzú Falls, Cataratas de Iguazu, Foz do Iguaçu. This last weekend I made the journey up to the northern province of Misiones, Argentina near the tri-border area of Argentina, Paraguay and Brazil. The area is subtropical and home to the Paraná and Igauzú rivers which feed the massive falls. They say that Argentina provides the falls while Brazil enjoys the views. I can't say that might not be true, but Argentina does have pretty massive networks of walking trails each providing spectacular views of the many sets of falls. We would have liked to have gone to Brazil but it costs over $300 US to get a tourist visa to get into Brazil for US citizens and we didn't think it was really worth it and therefore spent all of our time within the wonderful Argentine side of the park.
I left Thursday night with my friends Esteban, Stephanie and Rachel. We took a the 17 hour bus ride up to Puerto Iguazú (Argentina's access point to the falls) overnight Thursday night to arrive Friday. The busses in this country are ridiculously nice and not very expensive to take. We took a bed bus since it was an overnight trip and shortly after the trip began we were given glasses of scotch to start the trip off right. They also gave us champagne after they fed us that same night. I felt like a king. King of the castle, king of the castle (sorry if you don't get that reference, I had to add it though). The bed bus seats aren't as much beds as they are really big seats that resemble a lazy-boy recliner. They were extremely comfortable and made for a good night's sleep.
When we arrived in Puerto Iguazú we ate lunch and made our way out to the hostel by means of the public transportation system. The town is very small, I wouldn't say much more than 30,000 people and still has a fully functioning bus system, that's pretty amazing if you ask me, but I guess not so surprising when you realize how much of an impact tourism has on the area's economy. The hostel we stayed in advertises itself as a party hostel and has room for over 200 guests. I was a bit nervous about that claim to fame because sometimes I like to sleep when I'm on vacation, but it turned out to be okay. When we checked in they gave us a coupon for free caipirinhas which are a drink made of a rum-like alcohol from Brazil, sugar and lime. We spent the day relaxing by the pool and hanging out with our free drinks. The hostel organized a little soccer match that night and me and another guy from my program who was with another group of kids in Iguazú. The Argentines that showed up decided to stay true to their cocky reputation and that it would be best to play foreigners versus Argentines. The 'extranjeros' team consisted of the other American, me, a couple guys from England and, to make the teams even, an Argentine and a Brazilian. We beat the Argentine team 7-1.
The following day we woke up early and talked to the hostel concierge (side note: what hostel has a concierge??? This hostel felt a lot more like a hotel) and arranged a trip on a 4x4 truck through the forest and then a boat ride up by the falls. We then took the bus to the park and paid our entrance fee where my friend discovered that if we showed them our visas, we were considered Argentine citizens thus only having to pay 14 pesos (about 5 US) as opposed to 40 pesos for foreigners. We took the parks free train over to the area designated to meet our 4x4 tour. The truck wasn’t exactly the coolest thing, but we got to see more of the jungle than we would have without it. It took us to our boat which then navigated the group to the falls and helped us remember that its winter and drove under the falls soaking us all. I’m pretty sure half the people who have ever been to Iguazú have been on a similar boat, but for good reason; it definitely gave a front row view of the falls. It was kind of a cool day so it was freezing under the falls, but really entertaining. It dropped us off by one of the paths and we took a short boat over to an island with views of the string of falls in the area. We spent the rest of the day walking around the maze of paths and admiring all of the falls and the beauty of the park. It was incredible to see how huge, powerful and loud the falls were. Don’t get a whole lot of that in the cotton fields of West Texas.
We closed the day by going to the most famous part of the falls called the Garganta del Diablo, or Devil’s Throat. This was by far the most impressive part of the park in terms of sheer size and power. I’m not sure I can even do this part justice neither in words nor in pictures, but I’ll let the pictures try to do the job instead of trying to describe it. We got to this part of the falls a bit late and they made us leave as the park was closing. No worries though, we went back the next day in our half day left in the park just to admire the massive set of falls before we had to catch our bus back to Buenos Aires.
The night after our long day at the park our hostel hosted an asado and Brazilian dance show; complete with more free all-you-can-drink caipirinhas (I'm not even sure what to make of all the free alcohol we were given this weekend without even asking). The night made me realize why the hostel advertises itself as a party hostel and we had a great time dancing and enjoying our stay. We did eventually make it to bed and it wasn't too loud to sleep; it crushed my secret hope that I wouldn't be able to sleep as a result of blaring music which would in turn make me feel as though I were back home in Georgetown at the Phi house. Bummer. Y.I.T.B.
If you missed the post right before this one, I posted two links to the pictures I posted on facebook of the trip. The small animals with the striped tails and long noses that resemble raccoons are called coatis and are huge pests. People have been feeding them for a while and they act like domestic animals. The park strongly discourages feedings but many can't resist and only further the problem. The animals will follow people around if they smell food and are not afraid to bite or dig into backpacks. We also saw a crocodile, lots of different types of birds, lizards, fish and condors.
I had an amazing time in Iguazú and I'm incredibly thankful I had the opportunity to go. The only bad part was that I did get a little sick from some empanadas I ate in the park and suffered the disastrous results on the way back to Buenos Aires and the next few days. I think I'm finally recovered but it was NOT fun.
It's now winter in Buenos Aires. Apparently there's no such thing as fall here and we've gone from temperatures in the 80's last week to temperatures this week in the 40's with a brisk, biting breeze. Also, the farmers strike is now officially back on and I think they've decided to cut off meat trucks going into the city for a few days, but we'll see how long it lasts. Mrs. Kirchner seems to like to play with disaster.
Now that Iguazú is over, I really have to focus on my school work as I have three tests and a few papers coming up in the next few weeks. I also started the internship this week, but I'll go more into detail on that later on.
That's it for me for now, I hope everyone is doing well and thanks for reading!