Puerto Iguazu

Trip Start Aug 03, 2008
Trip End ??? ??, 2008

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Flag of Argentina  , Litoral,
Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Hola mis amigos. 
So as many of you know from my previous post, this weekend was dedicated exclusively to the Iguazu falls (las cataratas Del Iguaz˙) pronounced igwasOO.  I was pretty disappointed about this fact at first, because I had heard that the falls are a day's worth of fun (two if you're really overzealous and want to explore every angle) and that the town of Puerto Iguazu-which is where to stay on the Argentine side-lacks, well... anything.
Au contraire!  While it would have been fun to have explored Misiones or found a way into the Ibera National Park, I had an absolutely amazing time between the falls and Puerto Iguazu.  Here's the blow by blow... sorry if it gets a bit long but I just got back this morning and I'm still reeling from the good-travel vibes.
I left Wednesday night at 8:00 pm.  I decided to treat myself to a coche cama which is a nicer seat.  Still not the best, but you can recline even more and have a lot of foot room.  ($57) I also decided to book the front seat on the 2nd story, meaning I had nothing but windshield in front of me.  This was nice and fun, until I started thinking about who would die first if my bus got in an accident.  I think being 20 feet off the ground with nothing but glass for protection would qualify me.  No wonder it was available ;). 
In reality, most seats were available.  Of the 11 or so people on our level of the bus, only 2 were non-IES students.  One was a crazy woman named Veronica (who may have been the exact Argentine version of Karla...) who kept offering bribes to the stewardess at OUR expense for a cigarette break, and the other was a tourist from the New Zealand.  (Or the Netherlands..  Same diff, right?)  Pretty uneventful, other than when the IES students learned that buying a coche cama seat entitles one to a whiskey on the rocks, and virtually unlimited wine.  Oh and when Veronica got busted for smoking cigarettes in the bathroom and tried to blame it on us.  Makes that $56 look pretty cheap huh?  (No worries Gram, I was good!)
The bus ride ended up being about 17 hours, which isn't bad for this trip.  My friend Cierra and I opted to stay at the Marco Polo Hostel-Inn which happened to be the same place about 7 other IES kids were staying so it was a good time.  If anybody ever plans on going to Iguazu on a budget, I highly recommend the Marco Polo.  It's directly across the street from the bus terminal in the middle of town.  All the staff can speak English but will gladly try to speak Spanish, and it was just a really great place to stay.  I even forgive them for heavily advertising the jacuzzi that doesn't (and never did) work.  $11 per night for a bed in a 6-person dormitorio, with a pool, internet, and communal kitchen. 
We spent the rest of Thursday enjoying the mid-80's temperatures and the pool and walking around the little touristy area of town.  It was great, I've never really been in a jungle before and the Puerto Iguazu area definitely has that going for it.  Again, hostel culture is thoroughly enjoyable, so I didn't even feel bad just relaxing and talking to other travelers.  My favorite is meeting people who can't speak any Spanish, which makes me feel a lot better about myself.  
Friday was really rainy, which we knew was going to happen, so we had just booked a little "4 hour" excursion into the rainforest to do some zip-lining over the canopy of the forest and some repelling down a cliff.  I've done both before, and while I don't really think repelling is scary or exciting enough to warrant the wait, I enjoyed them both a lot.  Pictures attached.
That night we just bummed around some more, went out to a surprisingly inexpensive (for a tourist town) restaurant for dinner, hung out at the hostel some more, and organized our big day at Iguazu.  We were going to book this big sweet tour for 170 pesos (again, about $57) but we decided to try and do it ourselves for cheaper.
Saturday, after accidentally sleeping in until 9:30 (how three alarms failed I'll never know), we made it to the falls on the $1.80 bus, and paid the $13 entrance fee to the park.  
Iguazu is truly unbelievable.  Everybody says it, but the pictures don't do the falls justice.  There are dozens of falls.. the biggest being "Garganta del Diablo" meaning devil's throat.  The best part was the boat ride that we took basically into the bottom of the falls.  I am worried that I'm now jaded and won't be impressed by anything.  It was obviously super wet so not safe to take pictures of that... but I got pictures as close as I could before they made us put our cameras in the waterproof bags.  I took videos too but I don't know if they'll work on this site or not.
That night, we were all super tired but decided to go out anyway.  Also pretty uneventful, but around 3:00am we decided it would be a good idea to pull an all-nighter and go to The Three Points and watch the sunrise.  The Three Points is a place where you stand in Argentina, and you look at Paraguay and Brazil, which are cut off from Argentina by rivers.  It was pretty cool.. and my first true Argentine night making it to sunrise, but I was dead tired.  Pictures are included of that too, but they didn't turn out too well.  
The bus ride home was a little long, we sat without moving ONE FOOT in traffic for almost 2 hours, I have no idea why, I hope there was a terrible accident to justify that.  (A terrible accident where nobody was injured, of course)... after the 20 hour bus ride, I am finally home and clean and happy.
In the sad news, I found out that an old guy named Ian from the Rotary in South Africa died last weekend from respirator problems.  He helped us out a lot with volunteer projects and made us go to an ice-ballet once.  It was just kind of weird to hear about, because he was perfectly healthy when I was there, and it just kind of reminded me how long it's been and how much can happen.
Additionally, I believe my trip to Bolivia that I was REALLY looking forward to is cancelled.  The Bolivians basically fired the US ambassador this weekend.  We got the message from IES not to process our visas until further notice, and we'll find out Wednesday for sure.  I was really hoping to get there, and know it's not safe enough to do alone, so I'm interested to see what alternatives IES proposes.  I'll let you kids know!
For those of you who have been emailing me through travel-pod, you don't have to.  I should've explained that.  It's completely the same to me if you sign up for an account and send me a travelpod message or if you send it directly to my email, because that's where it goes anyway.
Hope all is going well for you.  Besos de Argentina.
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starlagurl on

Beautiful photos...
It definitely does look like the photos don't do it justice. Great blog, I like reading it.

Louise Brown
TravelPod Community Manager

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