Argy Bargy

Trip Start Jun 04, 2009
Trip End Sep 06, 2010

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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Hello from the road again,

I hope you are all well, and thanks again for the comments and emails they are much appreciated. It's only due to the lack of internet time that we have had while camping that has meant that I cannot reply as often as I would like and send some personal emails as well as write the blog.  I hope these updates are enough to keep you in loop for the time being.

We’ve been country hopping since I last was in touch, our final campsite in Brazil was at a place called Foz, the closest town in proximity to Iguazu Falls, a beautiful area where approximately 270 waterfalls all pour into the same valley.  We were very excited about this and planned to see both the Brazilian and Argentinean sides of the falls over the next couple of days and get involved in few of the other optional activities in the area while we were at it resulting in some very packed days out.  At the campsite we were offered an upgrade to one of the hostel rooms for 3 Realis which is 1 but we turned it down proving we’re hardened to the elements now (and just as stingy as ever!)

Foz is actually also only 20 minutes drive from Paraguay and, as our tour doesn’t take us through there, we couldn’t resist popping over the border to see what it’s all about before spending our afternoon at the falls.  The whole group of us was keen to go and just across the border is The Black Market where you can buy pretty much anything, particularly electrical goods for bargain prices.  People drop crates in the Brazilian side of the river and fish them out in Paraguay – all completely legitimate I’m sure!  We were warned that this could be a tricky border crossing and to only take photocopies of our passports, as it’s fairly common to have to pay a bribe to get them back, but we had no problems and spent the morning wandering in and out of all the bizarre stalls and shops.  Steve’s eyes would light up at the sight of all the cheap camera equipment but did well to keep himself in check.  He was also the target for many street vendors trying to sell him electric razors to control his ever growing beard but some how he resisted that too.  Other things that seemed to be a theme here were socks (of all descriptions) and Pringles!  Whatever the stall was officially selling they would have a stash of Pringles to sell you also.  It was like nowhere we have been so far on the trip and a good experience but we were itching to be heading off to the falls after a couple of hours.  There also aren’t many pictures taken during this as I’m sure you can appreciate it wasn’t the kind of place we wanted to flash our camera’s around.

We got to the Brazilian side of the falls in the early afternoon and walked a trail that showed us the falls in all their splendor as we gradually made our way towards the most impressive section 'The Devils Throat’.  What was bizarre about the trail was that we were ambushed at all the view points by swarms of ladybirds, more than any swarms of mosquito’s we’d come across they were crazy!  They kept landing on our glasses and camera’s and they were all different colours, very spectacular but very annoying after a while.  Nothing could distract us from the falls themselves though; they were jaw-dropping and covered in rainbows which showed them off even more.  We spent quite a lot of time hanging around here and tried to stick it out for a sunset over the falls but the park opening hours didn’t allow us to see it from the right angle so we got a bus back to the campsite to start cooking up seafood pasta for the group.

The next day we were crossing the Argentinean border at 2pm and so some people who hadn’t been to the falls the previous day were going that morning.  We were thinking of having a lazy day at the campsite but within minutes of the truck leaving we decided to spend the morning at the local Bird Park and put our cameras to the test once again and further my obsession with Toucan photos, even if it is cheating!  Unfortunately due to our sudden decision making skills we were not well equipped for the trip, I was wearing my flip-flops (which I had been warned not to do – all will become clear) and Steve had only just woken up so got dressed in a hurry and didn’t have time to put his pants on!  But one way or another we arrived at the park and it was really interesting to learn a bit more about all the birds we had seen en route so far and get some close up shots.  Then came the Toucans.  I feel like this is a ‘be careful what you wish for story’ as I’ve been going on for so long about my love of Toucans and wanting to see one up close.  At the park you walk into a big enclosure and we could see a couple of Toucans posing while a tour group managed to get some excellent photos of them and we couldn’t get close.  However once the noisy group had moved on and we were the only ones in the enclosure five of them swooped down to where we were standing and we got some beautiful photos before we realised they were more than just not camera shy!  Two started to corner me in, one wouldn’t let me walk one direction and the other wouldn’t let me go the other way, they were circling me and I had nowhere to go.  Then one of them bit my foot and I hopped up in the air with my flip-flop flying off leaving one foot on the ground which the other one had a nip at.  I then had to fend another two off to be able to pick up my flip-flip before I hobbled and ran towards the exit with them all following me!  Just as I reached the door one got there first pacing back and forth to not let me out but I’d learnt something from my Korfball day’s and managed to dodge past him and to safety.  Steve on the other hand had remained where he was in fits of giggles entirely unscathed!  Luckily I survived the incident with nothing more than a bad scratch on my foot but it was touch and go for a while and I didn’t realize I’d regret my flip-flops even more than Steve regretted no underwear!

Equally as impressive, but less dramatic, was the butterfly and hummingbird enclosure.  There were tiny birds and giant butterflies throwing everything out of proportion and very beautiful to see.  We skipped the Macaw enclosure as we had such a fantastic show from the wild ones in Bonito we didn’t want to ruin the memory, but we did get to hold one on the way out which was fun.  It was a great morning out and we then got a local bus back to camp that very randomly had a TV on it showing Mr Bean (international silent comedy!).

The Argentinean border crossing went well and to welcome us to the county our tour guides threw us a wine and cheese night followed by a traditional Argentinean barbeque to get us into the local mind set.  Unsurprisingly I think this was my favorite night so far and we got through a lot of wine.  We had Mumm champagne for 6 a bottle!  In particular I liked a type of Argentinean red wine called Malbec and I’d be really interested if anyone could tell me if you can spot it in the UK next time you’re out and about in supermarkets.  Once again we ate like kings and the traditional barbeque had the mouth watering steaks we were expecting as well as some bits we weren’t.  We tried some intestine, heart and liver all cooked on the barbeque which were lovely too – more so after a few hours of wine drinking!  Fact – the average Argentinean eats a kilo of meat per day – and we’re trying to keep up! 

Despite a very late night we were up early to go to the Argentinean side of Iguazu falls which were even more impressive than the Brazilian side and different in many ways.  For one there were no ladybirds!  Instead swarms of butterflies, every colour and pattern you can imagine happy to land on you throughout the day.  We did suffer another wardrobe catastrophe this day though as the previous night we put practically every item of clothing we had into the laundry and then we were just left with our swim shorts and pajama tops to sightsee in around the falls!  This actually came in handy though as we went on a boat trip that took us underneath one of the falls and got completely soaked in the process.  The highlight of both sides of the falls is The Devils Throat where the most amount of water pours over one point and you can walk right up to it on the Argentinean side so we were in awe when we finally got there as our last view point.  When I visited Niagara Falls I was gob smacked then but I’m going to have to say Iguazu was much more impressive and much better treated as an area to be conserved then the built up town Niagara has become.  So if you’ve never seen a waterfall on a giant scale I recommend buying you’re plane tickets now for Argentina!

One last barbeque at the campsite of chicken and ribs and mashed potato (which I ate so much of I was nearly sick) set us up for another couple of long days on the truck and a free camp last night on our way to Salta.  We’re not finding the long drive day’s too hard to endure, essentially we’re reading a lot, I’m typing or we’re sleeping and that seems to get us through most days.  When we were parking up the truck to camp last night though we did manage to somehow knock a lamppost over!  But it’s good to know the truck is pretty indestructible!

We’ve got four nights in Salta ahead of us which will be the longest we’ve been in one place for so I’m sure it will feel like home in no time.  Plenty planned for our stay there so keep in touch.

Lots of love,

Amy and Stomach-expanding Steve
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