Iguazu Falls .. via Cordoba!
So as i had said earlier, i got on my bus at 9:30pm last night to begin my solo mini-adventure to Puerto Iguazu and Buenos Aires, while Dominique does another week of Spanish in Mendoza and then heads off to Valparaiso and Vina del Mar in Chile. We will meet up again in 2 weeks in Santiago, Chile and have vowed we will outdo each other with wierd and wacky travel stories ...we will see !!!
Got to Cordoba (after 10 hr bus ride, cama-style so very comfy!) for my whistle stop tour at 7:30am this morning. Dropped off the massive mochilla/backpack and headed into town, determined to conquer this city and all its attractions in a mere day! Cordoba has the reputation of having a young and lively buzz due to its many university undergrads! Famed for its medical faculty, the city is often referred to as "La Docta" (the Scholar!). Its also one of Argentina´s most Catholic cities with 21 churches in the downtown area alone! I now know that as I managed to hit six of those churches, as well as two plazas, a museum AND have breakfast by 10am!!! That´s quite impressive: i`ve got this tourist thing covered i think! It seems a nice city, with a small town feel, even though there are over a million peple here.. so definitely enjoyed wandering around and whiling away the day until bus number 2 sets off for the falls at 7pm tonight!!
And i´m off again! Check out my bus (just kidding!). This time it´s semi-cama all the way (for those of you not familiar with buses in South America, you pay that bit more and rather than get a regular chair, you get a semi - where the chairs are big and comfortable and recline pretty far, and a leg rest; or cama, even more room and comfort, sometimes with meals too! It´s kind of like flying except you have tons more room but it takes a LOT longer! Met Eugenie at the terminal, while we waited for our bus to arrive (which was late)! Lovely girl studying to be a nun in Cordoba, going to visit her family in Posadas. We had a great chat (and yes, i did practice my Spanish too!; helped the 21 hour (yes 21!) journey whizz past, well, not quite but good company and four films also helped! Must get that Shrek 2 soundtrack!
Arrived in Puerto Iguazu around 4ish, bit tired but luckily the hostel i picked was just around the corner - Corrino Cominos! Checked out the town, and set up my plans for the next few days. Met up with new pals after dinner; Surinder from Derby, England and Troy from Prince Edward Island, Canada... and Leor from Israel, who has just finished her 2 1/2 years of national service and is traveling around South America on her own (very impressive!) so we decided to explore Iguazu Falls together ...
Jan 18th; very impressively we had decided to get up early so we would have a head start on the crowds so early it was - 6:30am to be precise! Aren´t you impressed as i am supposed to be relaxing on holiday ..im impressed with myself! The four of us headed down to the bus terminal and picked up the local collectivo to the Argentinian side of the Iguazu Falls and the Parque Nacionale! Had a great day....started off with a bang when we went on a jeep through the jungle, then onto a speed boat that took us down rapids until we reached the waterfalls, then we sailed right into two of the biggest ones! Wild and totally soaked but brilliant! The falls are amazing; you cant sail into the biggest and most impressive one, Devil´s Throat (i like the Spanish name best, "Garganta del Diablo") cos its just so massive you would be squished like a bug..imagine Niagara Falls except much bigger and slightly more impressive! Sorry Niagara!
After being soaked to the skin, we all went over and explored San Martin island, then headed back onto the mainland where we walked around about 20 miradors checking out the fabulous views. After lunch, we all jumped on the Parque Nacionale train that took us to the best view yet...a close up of the Devil´s Throat! Seriously, there is something so hypnotic about waterfalls, that makes you sort of ...kind of.. want to jump in.. its not just me, some of the others felt the same way. It was also incredibly hot, that might have had something to do with it too! The spray alone from the falls managed to soak us all again, and the noise as the water cascades over the rocks is incredibly loud; as the guide books say "this is the closest thing to the experience of sailing off the edge of the earth". So great day indeed! But of course, the Argentinian side wasnt enough..
Jan 19th - another early start (arent you impressed!) and its over to Brazil to check out a completely different perspective and a much broader view of the falls in all their glory! Also saw lots of these wee animals - cant remember their name but think of raccoons without the sunglasses (or are they skunks?).
Again fabulous time had by all and great to see how the views are from this side of the pond, so to speak! We were all set to take a helicopter ride over the falls, but the weather wasnt co-operating, so we couldnt make it....bummer as it would have been beautiful im sure. Oh well! Interesting trip back with the bus driver dropping us off miles from the damn stop, so we had to traipse back for an hour to get to Brazilian immigration, but luckily we made it through and back to Puerto Iguazu without any further mishaps! Dinner with Suri then he headed off on his bus to Salta, and i ended up talking to Nicholas from Nottingham and Luke from Australia for hours in our dorm, then some new friends from Sweden and Mexico joined in! Ahh the multicultural diversity of the hostel life. Did i mention this was my first mixed dorm AKA boys and girls sharing bunk beds...and it dawned on me as we sat around chatting over a great bottle of Malbec wine, i was indeed the only girl in the mixed ward that night! Hmmn ive come a long way, i have to say, but it wasnt a problem at all. Only problem was stopping those boys chatting so the rest of us could get some sleep! And they say girls talk alot!
Up the next day with a trip to Paraguay in mind to visit the Itaipu Dam, one of the biggest dams in the world, that provides 80% of Paraguay´s electricity and 20% of Brazil´s all through hydro electric power! Quite incredible. But unfortunately i couldnt make it cos there wasnt enough time to go and come back and then get my 17 hr (yes this ones a short trip teehee!) to Buenos Aires. So had a relaxing day, writing postcards, sitting watching the world go by with my cafe con leche, and generally taking it easy!Jumped on my bus at 4pm for my next adventure - Buenos Aires, party capital of Argentina and home of Evita (well, her grave now as she died in 1952)! My bus was cama all the way, with dinner and champagne no less, included (ok i did treat myself here to the top notch option!). Great trip and this one did whiz by i have to say, so just thinking, the four hour bus journey from Boston to New York will feel like a walk in the park after all these bus journeys! Hello Buenos Aires!