Big Water - A New Natural Wonder of the World

Trip Start Nov 15, 2012
Trip End Jul 10, 2013

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Flag of Argentina  , Misiones Province,
Monday, April 29, 2013

We had been chilling out in Buenos Aires for four days at a well known hostel called The Milhouse - it's known for its party atmosphere amongst travellers. After our final farewell in Chile at La Casa Roja (Chris's happy place as he calls it) we were in much need of a few days rest and to be honest the vibe at Milhouse is very young so we felt more like old peeps than party peeps, which made for a welcome change. We didn't explore much of BA at the time as we planned to return after our Iguazu adventure and hang out for a couple of weeks. However, we did take one of the tours the hostel was offering into La Boca...the dodgy side ;-)

La Boca is a neighbourhood, or barrio as the Argentinians call it, that has a lot of Italian influence. You can check out Caminito (little walkway in Spanish), the famous street with all its little colourful houses and you a sure to find a tango dance or five whilst musing your way along. There are loads of artisans trying to sell you their latest piece of artwork and all in all it's a pretty touristy place to visit. Sadly, the colourful houses are not a sign of wealth, but rather of poverty from years back when people could not afford to buy paint for their houses. They used to take the leftover paint from the ships that came into the port and use whatever they could find, so whilst it looks cool, it's not a nice story behind why.

It's also the home to the famous, or infamous perhaps, La Boca Juniors Football Club, whose supporters are renowned for getting rowdy and a little loco at the matches when a goal is scored - either by their team or the other team. There is a six foot high fence around the pitch and if a goal is scored the supporters, like monkeys, climb up the fence to show their appreciation. It's not allowed, per say, but they do it anyway. Due to both this, as well as the poverty surrounding the area, La Boca is not the safest barrio to hang out in, so it was quick in and quick out for us. A good day all in all though and nice to see a little bit of the real Argentina.

What did you say? 17 hours on a bus to get to Iguazu, you gotta be kidding me, we are too old for that! Oh right, we mustn't worry because the bus has fully reclinable seats (as in a bed), wifi (sort of), dinner, breakfast, movies, blanket, pillow and champagne...ok we're in! Seriously, the likes of Airbus & Dreamliner could take advice from Argentinian bus travel, its better than a first class aeroplane seat. Not that I have ever flown first class in an aeroplane but I plan to do so at some stage and it will be an interesting comparison. The 17 hours hours flew by and so we arrived in Puerto Iguazu, the gateway to the Argentinian and Brazilian side of the falls.

The name "Iguazu" comes from the Guarani or Tupi words "y" meaning "water", and "ûasú" meaning "big".Legend has it that a god planned to marry a beautiful woman named Naipí, who fled with her mortal lover Tarobá in a canoe. In a rage, the god sliced the river, creating the waterfalls and condemning the lovers to an eternal fall.

On 11th November 2011, the falls were declared one of the New Natural Wonders of the World...we have been privileged enough to visit this wonder and my word were we in awe of its phantasmagoric perfection and power!

First day/night was spent chilling...can you see a pattern here: get to a place, chill, drink wine and or beer, have a sleep in and then mission. Unless you are on a tour like the Bolivian salt flats or the inca trail, I highly recommend this way of travel ;-). We also had to wait for our friends Claire and Andy whom we had met jn Bariloche and travelled back up from the south on Pachamama with, to join us the following day so a nice excuse to stay put for the day by the hostel swimming pool.

Hooked up with Claire and Andy the following day, they had booked into the same hostel as us, and headed straight out to the Brazilian side of the falls. There are numerous bus and tour companies that take you there but we opted for a taxi for both days which was cheaper for the four of us - our driver was great and it took a lot of the hassle out of crossing borders.

And so, to Brazil for a day and onward and upward in a helicopter! Chris, Claire and Andy did the helicopter flip over the falls. Me not so much - the buses, planes, trains, hostels dirty beds, 4x4's etc have pushed my scaredy cat limits quite enough thanks. Chris was in his absolute element, with waterfalls being his favourite thing in the world (apart from bloody La Casa Roja, and me of course) ;-), he arrived back safe and sound after a ten minute flip buzzing like a fat kid eating cupcakes. He has said it was the best thing he has ever done and it was awesome to watch him walking around the falls over the next two days on such a high.

There is an on going debate as to which side of the falls is better, or more magnificent. We debated between the four of us and decided its actually not possible to say. Each side offers its own unique views and magic. The Brazilian side you don't get as close up but the views are still incredible and the wildlife is awesome - anteaters, birds, monkeys and thousands of the most beautifully perfect butterflies.

After a few hours spent on the Brazilian side, it was back to our hostel for the night, excited about what we would be seeing and experiencing the next day. Sleep only came of course after a few bottles of wine, beer and a delicious braai of churipan (chorizo sausage in a roll) and steak - thanks Chris for being braaimaster, you have certainly mastered the art of Argentinian/Chilean barbecues.

Day two was a little more adventure for the team and certainly a lot more for me. There are various trips you can do along the Argentinian side of the falls, from a slow glide along the quietest part of the river, to a crazy 2km of rapids in a rubber thanks! We opted for the inbetweener adventure and we were not disappointed. It's called the Nautical Adventure and you are warned that you will get wet as it apparently goes under directly under the falls.

So off we ventured along the lower trek of the falls down towards the river. We were given life jackets and boarded a boat, of sorts. What started off as a quiet boat trip along the river turned into a fast moving, rapid riding, completely soaked, adrenaline filled, uber fantastic 15min adventure into and under the Iguazu Falls. We couldn't take pics for obvious reasons but they do film the while thing and we bought a DVD, which is somewhat entertaining!

Drenched to the bone, high on life and smiling from ear to ear we hopped off the boat and made our way up to the upper trek of the falls. Thank god it was hot as this meant our clothes dried relatively quickly and there was no getting chilly. The upper trek is a walkway of bridges over the top of the falls. You get a really good idea of the power of the water s you watch it rushing over the side of the cliffs, it's spectacular.

Finally feeling we'd had our fill off the magnificence that is Iguazu Falls, we jumped back into our cab and headed to our hostel for our final evening with Claire and Andy. Another braai, some more wine and early to bed - exhausted from all the adrenaline running through our veins the last two days. Next morning up early to say farewell to our friends who were heading to Salta and we jumped back on our luxury bus to Buenos Aires.

It's now two to three weeks in BA for us. We have rented a little apartment in San Telmo, one of the oldest barrios in Argentina, and we are currently living la vida loca. Leaving NZ two weeks early has caught up with us now and we need to hang low for a bit before we start our Peru adventure eeek. We are hoping to cross over to Uruguay in a couple of weeks for a few days, it's only an hour n the ferry from BA and apparently really worth the visit.

In the meantime you'll find us musing along the BA streets, checking out the various areas of Recoletta, Palermo, Micro City etc, doing some shopping, trying our hand (or feet) at a tango lessons or two, improving our spanish and possibly hanging out on the 14th floor of our apartment block where we have a swimming pool, gym, sauna and jacuzzi - life is tough ;-)

Until the next time peeps, keep dreaming, because you never know, one day they may just become a reality - ours have!
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zandz on

sounds amaaazing shrubbie, wow. green with envy over here. stay away from the gym - that's NOT a holiday place hehe xxxxxxxx

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