I've been away from home for about 5 months now and in the space of the last 2 weeks I've been in six different countries taken 8 flights and been in 10 different immigration queues.
Admittedly, quite a lot of this has been down to bad planning on my part, but the reason I mention this is my brother e-mailed me about a friend of his who's spending about 6 months in Patagonia, where I'm heading in a couple of weeks. It got me thinking how differently we all travel. With instant communication, travelling has obviously changed significantly over the past few years, and is I suspect a lot easier than it once was. Yet, one thing remains constant, is that different people want different things from their trips. In many ways, my trip is representative of the dip-in dip-out world we live in - I decided not to focus my time on one particular area or country, but get a smorgasbord of the world; visit the obvious sites, and cram in as much as possible. I'm missing out on loads, not having the opportunity to really understand a culture or a country, but yet I'm happy with the way I'm doing it. I've met people on this trip who've spent their time in one country, or one continent and other like me who're doing as much as possible. To each their own, but one thing's for certain - every one of us is having the experience of a lifetime, so quit that job now and go and see the world!!
But anyway, enough of the pocket philosophy and back to the now. The last week I've made it onto Argentina, firstly starting off in Buenos Aries and then heading north to the famous Iguaçu falls. Firstly, Buenos Aries - often referred to as the Paris of South America, it's easy to see where the comparisons come from. Wide boulevards, art deco café's,
wonderful architecture, and even the copious amounts of dog shit on the pavement, it's Paris, but better - better weather and of course the only French are the tourists! In addition, it's food surely rivals its European counterpart. Argentinean steak is famous throughout the world, but here, it seems to taste even better, truly melting in the mouth. Additionally, the large influx of Italians at the turn of the 19/20th Century brought with them their ice-cream and pizza, both of which the Argy's seem to have improved on. And the really great thing about all of this is how cheap it is. Whilst not so great for the Argy's, their economy experienced something of a meltdown a few years back and the devaluation of the Peso means that prices here are ridiculously cheap. A great meal with a bottle of wine for about £6! Of course you'd struggle to come to Argentina without being reminded of Eva Peron (Evita) - one of the 20th Centuries greatest legends. However, it's in death that her story takes a slightly bizarre and macabre twist, though I doubt Andrew Lloyd Webber would want to write a musical about the travels of her body. Mummified after her death, her body was variously hidden away in Rome, left in the attic of her hubby's house in Madrid, where his wife of the time attempted to garner Eva's spirit, before eventually being returned here after the kidnapping of another former President's body as a ransom! Her tomb in the Recolata cemetery is one of the city's most famous landmarks, but in truth the clamouring of American tourists is likely to mean she's not getting a lot of rest! The cemetery at Recolata is actually quite astounding,
ignoring Eva's tomb. It's more of a miniature city of the dead, with huge mausoleums and coffins peeping out of windows or damaged facades.
BA is divided into Barios or districts and each of them seem to have their own unique character. San Telmo is the bohemian area,
full of little café's, a junk market on Sunday's - Recolata and it's neighbours representing the moneyed part of the city. We come back to BA in about a month for a couple of days and I'm looking forward to spending a bit more time here.
From BA onto the Iguaçu falls, another of the places I'm making a return visit to and as with the Amazon, there was no failure to impress 2nd time around. The falls aren't the biggest in the world (Victoria Falls) or the tallest (Angel Falls) or even do they disgorge the most amount of water (Niagara), but I bet they're the most breathtaking. For a sheer ability to get close to them, they take some serious beating. Whether you want to take a boat under some of them, walk on a catwalk out to the mouth of the biggest or just get some amazing panorama's Iguaçu offers them all. The easiest way to imagine them is as a lower case j (without the dot!). The top of the falls, is the huge Garganta del Diablo (Devils Throat)
with around another 300 falls running down the Argentinean side. The falls mark the border between Brazil and Argentina and between the two of them, they seem to have arranged it so that the Brazilian's have the best overall views whilst the Argy's have the ability to get right up and close. From wherever you're looking, they're truly spectacular.
From here, back to Chile, for a slightly longer stay this time, as we head up to the Atacama desert - the driest place on earth.