Waterfall Refreshment at Christmas Time

Puerto Iguazu Travel Blog

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19 December 2008

After a couple days of rest and recuperation in BA, we decided to move along with our schedule before getting any more behind. The 18-19 hour bus ride to Puerto Iguazu was more than enough extra rest time.


We had our first semi-cama Argentinean bus experience and we thoroughly enjoyed it! I heard great things about Argentinean buses, but you have to ride in them to fully believe it.


An extra plus on our first bus was that there were very few passengers, so we had our pick of seats and were able to have two each. The seats recline pretty far and there’s a leg rest that bends down. I wasn’t sure if meals were included, but I soon found out, that they are �" kind of like airplane food, but a nice treat. The number of meals served depends on the length of the ride. Long rides have two meals, medium distance have a meal and a snack and short rides have only one meal or one snack. Breakfast is more of a snack though, with something like a medialuna (crossiant), crackers, and cookies. Movies and music videos are played in Spanish with English subtitles or the reverse. And gladly for me, there’s a bathroom. The bus is two stories high with a separation between the passengers and driver. Also, you get tickets for your stored luggage, so it’s very difficult for it to get stolen, even if passengers get off on a stop before yours. The windows are so large and clear, that when the curtains are open, you get a gorgeous 360 degree view of the argentinean countryside.


20 December 2008

Puerto Iguazu! We booked our first night at Aguada hostel. It was ranked first on my list and I saw it as we drove into the bus station. For dinner we made something Gabe introduced to nick...tuna and rice.... Unfortunately, the cheap rice we used made the dish less appetizing that it should have been. We walked around town, got med and checked out some other hostels. Aguada is nice, but there aren’t many other travelers there. The ones who are there are a bit older. The hostel doesn’t have much of an atmosphere, but rather a cozy, quite place.


While Nick checked out some artisan crafts and souveniers, I sat on the sidewalk and listened to some live music at an outdoor restaurant. Two musicians  were playing and singing some romantic tunes and I relaxed while I waited for Nick. A young girl less than 3 kept hopping to the music and she made me smile. I would have liked to have danced with her.


Nick and I continued walking the triangle of town and spotted all the closed souvenier shops. Some artisans were along the sidewalk though selling their crafts, which of course caught Nick’s attention. We sat for what must have been an hour talking to one artisan about mate and his wooden pieces until Nick broke a deal with him and purchased several gourds and bombillas.


21 December 2008

In the morning, we went to Iguazu Falls for the first time.  Iguazu Falls is made up of 275 cataratas (waterfalls). They are the widest set of falls in the world. Getting there was pretty straightforward, easy and cheap.  After a 60 peso admission fee, we ventured to the lower circuit.  This was the longest of the walks. Upon our first view of the falls, we snapped photos, not knowing how many more wonderful views were yet to come. Nick, true to form, kept a slow pace, so I tried my best to relax and enjoy the moment. Waterfalls are incredibly amazing to me, so I thoroughly enjoyed the views. There was something missing though �" the serenity of it all. Usually at falls, I’m just with one or a few other people. Here, there are hoards of people and it’s very difficult to get that close bond with nature. Yet the views were incredibly amazing.

After the lower circuit, we walked through the upper circuit. More amazing views, though I recommend the lower circuit more.


Next we headed out to one of the very touristy boat rides. Mind you, this is quite the tourist trap, but it’s incredibly fun if you like to get completely soaked. Everyone is given dry bags to put their belongings in, even though Nick had come well equipped. The 12 minute boat ride was worth every peso. The driver teased us near the falls, allowing us to take photos and instructing us when to put them away. Then, we got completely soaked at least a couple of times and headed back to dry land.


By this time, the free boat ride to San Martin Island was no longer running. I headed to the bathroom, while Nick took his time absorbing more of the waterfall views. He said he’d be back in a few minutes, which I knew wouldn’t be. After more than an hour, was tired of waiting, so I laid down on the hot cement sidewalk and fell asleep. Going at this slow of a pace was wearing me out, but I knew Nick was still recovering, so I had to be patient. An hour later we were finally ready to go. On our way out, we spotted some animals, one of which grabbed a tourist’s lunch leftovers and ran away with part of a sandwhich. Dumbfounded, the tourist just stood there and watched and when a guide came to clean up the mess, the guy continued to just stand there.


The animals at Iguazu kept me entertained. There were iguanas and lizards walking around. Butterflies were everywhere and would constantly sit on me, which I hoped would increase my luck. There were these oversized guinea pig looking animals. Also, on our way out, a grasshopper decided to rent out my leg for what seemed like 15 minutes. Nick thought he liked eating the dried sweat off my leg, which there was plenty of. He could have a field day! Once we had to continue walking again, I was careful with my leg, but the little guy clung on. He was there so long that I even gave him a name, Yerba.


When Nick and I got back, we moved to Peter Pan hostel, which was even closer to the train station, had great atmosphere, 2 internet computers, an outdoor heated pool, and more young travelers.  We both went swimming, though at different times and met travelers from other countries.


While I was in the pool, I chatted with two Columbian brothers who spoke very good English. Seeing this as the perfect opportunity practice my Spanish though, I continued speaking in Spanish. We chatted about travel, etc, etc and in the morning decided to go to the falls together. Since Nick and I hadn’t finished seeing the Argentinean side, there was still much for me to see.


22 December 2008

Nick decided to rest for the day, so I went to the Falls with the Miguel and Andres, the Columbiano boys. Truthfully, I really needed to get off on my own and have a day separated from Nick. We had been traveling together for a couple weeks at this point, and my patience was wearing incredibly thin. We both move at a different pace and the pace had become dramatically slower after the whole emergency situation, so I was ready to be cut loose.


At first I was just going to walk around the falls by myself. Then I met Miguel and Andres, who hadn’t been to the falls yet and I figured I would walk with them during the parts I didn’t get to see, then walk around alone for the rest of the day. However, Miguel and Andres move at an even quicker pace than your average tourist, which changed my plans once again. I’d happen to spend the entire day with them and it was incredibly refreshing for me.


Our first stop was Gargantua Diablo. Very wet and jaw-dropping. A perfect beginning to the day.  Then we quickly walked the lower circuit, a trip down memory lane. In order to time things out so that we’d be able to do both, we then went to San Martin Island.  It was unlike what I had expected. At first we came to the beach area where several people were swimming in the knee deep water. The boys weren’t interested in getting wet, so we walked on. Then, there were three short walks including “the window” and a mirador of the falls. The island’s trails had only a few people here and there, thus making it more peaceful. We took photos and headed back toward the mainland so the boys could take their boat ride. Meanwhile, I sat on a big rock set off from the trail and took photos of Miguel and Andres as they got whiplashed by the falls.


For dinner, the boys made sausages. Then, more swimming, of course. Soon I had myself convinced to have a night on the town, despite being incredibly tired. So we went out to a bar, and before I knew it, I was passing out.


23 December 2008

After a late night out, I didn’t wake up until noon. Since it was so late, Nick and I decided not to go to Brazil and take a rest day. It was the second rest day in a row for him, but he needed it. He had finally used all his antibiotics and was finally feeling better.


Nick and I spent a bit of time in the pool, then went to check out the souvenier shops in town. It was then that we realized they don’t open till later in the day since it’s such a small town and most of the tourists are at the falls during the day. So we grabbed a bit to eat and let the time pass.


24 December 2008

We didn’t realize that it was already Christmas Eve! We tried booking bus tickets for later in the night, and all the buses were fully booked, so we made a reservation for 10am  the next day instead. This set us back even more in our itinerary. While I figured out the bus ordeal, Nick found us a new hostel to spend the night.


We had run into a payment problem with Peter Pan hostel. We’re used to paying upfront, but at some of these hostels, you don’t pay until you leave. It was Nick’s turn to pay for the hostel, so after the lady showed us our room we went to a bank to get money. Nick paid upon our return, but the lady who took our money never recorded it. So when we leaving, the other lady in charge kept telling us, “You no pay! You no pay!” After explanations on both sides, the lady said that if we didn’t pay, she’d call the police. Since we didn’t have a receipt and we thought the odds were against us, we paid yet again. Unfortunately it was 3 nights for each of us, which set us back more than it should have.


Anyway, we booked a couple beds at MarcoPolo Hostel and made sure to get a receipt. Strange thing here was they made us put a down payment down for a key, of which there was only one key per room (6 bed room) and we never even used the room key! However, this hostel also had an outdoor pool, a nice outdoor kitchen and eating area, and a good vibe with lots of travelers.


Nick and I took a bus to the Brazilian side, which, we were told, only takes about 3 hours to see. In “Nick time” I calculated that to be 5 hours, which put us right on the mark of getting the last bus back to Puerto Iguazu. After asking several people, we found out that you don’t need a Visa to go to the Brazilian side. If you spend less than 24 hours there, then you get into the country stamp free. When we crossed the border, we were stamped out of Argentina, but not stamped into Brazil. We wondered how Brazil authorities kept tabs on that.


Foz do Iguacu are just as tourist packed as the Cataratas de Iguazu. The Brazilian side gives a much better full view of the falls, though the Argentinean side has more “up close and personal” attributes. You do get wet on the Brazilian side, but you don’t get to be right in the water.


Like usual, Nick and I became separated. Since I had been talking about his slow pace, I thought maybe he was trying to prove otherwise, when he flew through the entrance like a bat out of Hell. So when I came to the end, I went to the shops and still, there was no sight of him. I retraced the path and found him pretty much in the middle. Apparently he had gotten sick and had to lay down.  So although I had finished the route in less than 3 hours, Nick continued to pace himself, and we squeezed out some more time getting water speckled by the windswept falls.


As it got closer to the final bus departure time, we rushed out, but became entranced in the souvenier shop at the entrance. So we took first bus we had to take, that dropped us off a station in Brazil. Thinking we had just enough time to spare, we hurried over to the supermarket. We had to shop one at a time since we couldn’t take our bags into the store. Nick rushed through, picking up alcohol. I rushed through grabbing snacks and dinner b/c of course I was hungry, and some drinks and then we made a mad dash for the bus station. When we got there, we found out we had missed the last bus.


Speaking to some cab drivers in Spanish, even though they spoke Portuguese, we were told what we already knew �" there were no more buses back to Puerto Iguazu for the day. So for 40 real, the Brazilian currency, one of the drivers agreed to take us back to our hostel. We had no other choice, but to accept the ride. It was about 9 miles to get back.


As we crossed the Brazilian border, border control were somewhat confused as to why we didn’t have entrance stamps. Then we explained our situation and they just waves us through. Interesting system, I thought again. As we crossed into Argentina, they didn’t hassle us too much either. I was carrying fruit over the border, but there wasn’t a problem since our cab driver just handed our passports through the window and border control looked at us and waved us through. The car in front of us however, had a full car inspection.


At the hostel, Nick made friends with some West coast Americans while I made us a spaghetti dinner.  During dinner I found out that my mad dash rush through the Brazilian supermarket had its drawbacks.  First, I had bought water with gas. Second, one of the two bottles of beer I purchased was sem alcool  (non-alcoholic). Third, the beer with alcohol tasked entirely of malt. Nick wouldn’t quit making fun of me and I had to laugh at myself.


I joined the rest of the Americans near the poolside. It was a nice break talking fast-paced in English for a change.  It was a hot Christmas Eve night and the sky sparkled with starlight.


Eventually the Americans went to bed, but Nick and I stayed up with the other international travelers. I hadn’t planned on swimming, but, fully clothed, Nick dragged me into the pool. Once I was in, I wasn’t getting out. I floated on my back and watched the stars as the moved across the sky throughout the night. I stayed up until about 5am and planned on waking up to find a sunrise Christmas mass.

homeres says:
wow, this was a long blog, but i read it :)
Posted on: Feb 03, 2009
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Puerto Iguazu
photo by: jeffy