Iguazu, and almost not getting there.

Trip Start Jan 28, 2005
Trip End Aug 2005

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Flag of Brazil  ,
Wednesday, July 27, 2005

I am sitting in the back of the cab, Alison is fretting in the front, thankfully (for me) she has a hint of motion sickness so she's not turning around to look at the state of affairs in the back. She can't see that I am chowing my nails. I probably sound calm enough, but one glance at my nails is enough proof that I am about to pee my pants. Friday night in Buenos Aires, rush hour and we're stuck in traffic. It's 20.40. Our bus to Iguazu leaves in 10 minutes. That'll be the bus whose tickets are non-exhangeable and non-refundable..

20.52 and we get to the most enormous bus station I have ever seen in my life. Without exaggeration I estimate it has approximately 69540 platforms. I grab the day pack leaving Alison to carry the big monster and sort out paying the cab (i.e. throw some money at the driver before running and not waiting for change). I run along the platforms, 24, 25, 26, 27 phew, thank God I've been going for jogs in the morning, I manage to run for more than 3 minutes. Get to platform 35, our platform, 'NOOOOOOOO' I hear myself scream in a most dramatic and cinematic manner... It's empty. The one and only platform in the entire gigantic bus station without a bus and people waiting for it..

Bollocks, bollocks, bollocks! There is no way we are not getting that bus. My leo fighter instinct kicks in (or if you prefer, the-skint-traveller-who-doesn't-have-budget-for-another-ticket-instinct). I scream a question at a puzzled looking man on the platform who returns my request with a nochelant shrug of the shoulders. ARGH! I decide to run a bit more, to another platform and holler the same question at a much nicer looking man. (As in kinder, not handsomer, although.. actually... oh you know..) Had this been Victoria station he would have replied 'sorry babe, bus's gone innit, nuffing you can do luv.' But this is Retiro bus station, Buenos Aires, I am busty, have blue eyes and blonde hair and when I bark 'CAN YOU STOP THE BUS?!?!?!?!?' at him, he gentlemanly pulls out his walkie talkie and mumbles into it. The walkie talkie mumbles back, goes silent then mumbles some more. 'Si senorita. But we can't wait long. Where is your friend?' He asks calmly. I bounce up and down a la Tigger, is he for real? He's managed to stop the bus!! I LOVE BUENOS AIRES!! But where, oh where is Alison? How on earth are we going to find her amongst the 17.5 million people at the station? Oh no.. This is not looking good. It's 21.02 and Alison is nowhere to be found. Then my favourite man in the entire world says to me 'could that possibly be her?' HORRAY!! Not only has he stopped the bus for us, he also has laser vision and has spotted Alison running frantically along the 9 zillion platforms looking for the bus and me.

Guided by our man we leg it out of the station, head down the stairs, across a couple of busy roads dodging some tooting taxis and buses and there - on the side of the road leading to the motorway is our bus! Our glorious green and white double decker that is taking us to Iguazu. They waited for us!! 'TE VOY A BESAR!' ('I AM GOING TO KISS YOU!') I exctatically scream to our knight in Via Bariloche bus company armour. He looks startled. Under normal circumstances I would most definitely not take that as a compliment, but seeing I have sweat pouring down my cheeks and hair sticking to my face which is purple I don't mind and I give him a smacker on the cheek anyway. He doesn't look displeased but the driver of our bus does. So no time for a lengthy Casablanca style goodbye, we climb onboard, saying 'disculpe' to all the passengers downstairs. They just find us amusing for some peculiar reason. Then to our surprise we realise all the seats are taken, they must have sold our seats, but I'm not worried, I mean we're on the bus we can stand. It's only a 16 hour journey. Alison and me look happily at each other, then she suddenly says 'ah, there's an upstairs bit too..' By the time we sit down in our (unoccupied) seats upstairs we are falling apart laughing. In the cab to the station when things were looking bleak I did dare to utter 'one day we will laugh at this' 'JUST NOT TODAY!' Alison replied then, rather briskly. Time is indeed a great healer and for the next 16 hours all we do is laugh at ourselves for almost not getting the bus, we giggle ourselves to sleep and wake up in the green and lush jungle landscapes of Iguazu.

Iguazu, the widest waterfalls in the world. 274 of then in total, joining (or dividing I suppose some may say) Argentina and Brazil. Suffering a slight case of travellers fatigue we've actually pre-booked the whole Iguazu trip, so we're being taken care of by a guide and showed around the Argentinian and Brazilian side, and lo and behold we get an hour in Paraguay too checking out a big dam! Cool! Or, well, I'd conveniently forgotten why I don't like pre-booked stuff until we meet our guide. I end up renaming him to Chop-Chop because he ushers us along with the speed and ferocity of a woman at the Harrod's sale. Suddenly I remember I don't like big sheep/group outings, I don't like being told how much time I can stand and admire the waterfalls and I DO NOT like Chop-Chop. Annoying as though Chop-Chop was, the waterfalls were just utterly, utterly gorgeous and beautiful. Both Alison and me are having 'little moments' where the sheer beauty of the place get to us and we both get a bit teary. (For once I've met someone is getting more teary than me, hooray!)

As a friend of Alison elegantly stated 'on the Brazilian side you get the view, on the Argentinian side you get wet.' So time to get wet then! After walking on top of and underneath the falls on the Argentinian side we jump onboard a boat (leaving Chop-Chop on the banks looking at his watch) and head out on the river underneath the wild spray of the falls. Being the first ones on the boat we get to pick our seats! hooray, so we pick the ones at the front to get a better view.. Being blonde is difficult sometimes. You also get wettest at the front don't you? We shriek, scream, swear and laugh. We are totally and utterly soaked within a few minutes. You want to experience waterfalls? Well then get in there! The getting soaked part was good fun, (and it was great being able to annoy Chop-Chop after by going to the loos to get changed and taking an awful long time..) but the stunning part of the boat trip was seeing the amazing amount of water throwing itself off the cliffs and crashing into the river. And the rainbows.. Being surrounded by beautiful, perfect rainbows. At one point it looked as though all I had to do was stretch out my hand I and I would be able to touch a rainbow. Amazing!

In Iguazu we catch up with Bryan again, having not seen him for a whole week. It was his birthday while we were there, so that had to be celebrated but I must admit we were rather conservative that evening. Could it be we are all partied out? Then I say goodbye to Bryan for the last time in South America. Fittingly our first excursions together was the trainride in Eucador up and down the Devil's Nose and now we end our joint travelling adventure into the Devil's Throat. He's been excellent travel company and I am lucky he lives in London, so having sampled Gato Negro, Quilmes, Cuba Libres, Cusquena and Brahma (to name but a few) in the last few months I reckon there's a real possibility we'll hook up and sample a few Fosters in London too soon. We said our goodbyes after celebrating Bryan's birthday, so thankfully I was ever so slightly aneasatised by Argentina's finest red, otherwise they may potentially have been tears.

When I set off back in February (that does really seem like a different life ago..) the original plan was that I was going to head up to Rio from here, via Curitiba and since meeting the boys the plan was to hook up with Bryan and Sjoerd again and see Rio with them. (I'm such a good planner, the plan was also to be back in London in June.) My plane ticket back to London leaves from Rio (but unlike the bus ticket this one is changeable) Now that was the plan, but yet again I am a lucky, lucky girl... I've had an offer I cannot refuse, so I am actually climbing back up on the bus (leaving the hostel 3 hours before departure to make sure we get the bus, it's such a long walk, the hostel is 110 meters from the bus station) and heading back to Buenos Aires. When I get there I will completely unpack because I am staying there till the end of my trip.

Susannah is off to the UK for a month which leaves a room free in the flat. So I am going to stay with Nick and hopefully not talk him into despair and madness. Not only have they offered me to stay in the flat, there is also a laptop to my disposal.. So I am going to attempt getting my head down and actually do some work on the novel I've been trying to write for the last 6 months. I was going to spend my birthday hangliding over Rio, instead I will be spending it on the computer in Buenos Aires writing. How cool is that??

It is mid-winter and cold in Buenos Aires right now, London is a scorcher.. I suppose it's pay back time for me ranting on and on about how deliciously hot it was in India in February when you lot were sitting on your radiators to keep your bodies at body temperature. I could have been on my way to Rio now to work on my currently non-existent tan. I don't like being cold, I don't like rain and I do not like having to wear heavy clothes. But I ADORE Buenos Aires. I think there is a possibility I will have some creative inspiration and potentially get some stuff done there. I will try my best not to be distracted by tango music, smokey bars with delicious red wine, shoe shopping and gorgeous Argentinian men. Try at least. Unless it's in the name of inspiration...
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