Friday, October 30, 2009

Guess who's back, back again...

...Mateo's back, tell a friend. And so are these long-forgotten blog posts! I'm gonna split up my trip into four entries so as not to bore you with a single epic novel. That way I can also post four pictures from my adventure instead of just one! (For lots of amazing pics, check out my Facebook albums!)

David and I caught our bus to Iguazu Falls at 1pm on Saturday, October 10th. We had made bologna sandwiches to sustain us on the 23-hour journey, which was a fantastic idea. Highly recommend it. I introduced David to George Lopez and hyphy music, and he showed me Miley Cyrus (haha, but seriously, he did) and Death Cab for Cutie. Time flew by, we slept a little, and before we knew it we were pulling into the Foz do Iguaçu terminal. We took a bus to our hostel, but since our beds weren't ready yet we decided to go straight to the Brazilian side of the falls. Iguazu is a more legit border town than El Paso because you can take a 15-minute city bus for 75 cents and end up in Brazil, Argentina, or Paraguay. So we did, in that order, one country each day.

My first image of the Brazilian side of the falls took my breath away. I know that's cheesy and cliché, but I don't care. From the entrance of the park they have buses that make several stops at different hiking trails and vantage points, and there are trees blocking the view of the falls all along the road. David and I got off at one of the early stops, pushed our way through the trees and tourists, and found ourselves at the edge of a sweeping panorama of roaring waterfalls and blue skies. For a moment I just admired the beauty. Everything seemed to fall silent around me except for the rushing water. I whispered a prayer of thanksgiving and my heart smiled.

And then I pulled out my camera just like the other 200 tourists around me and tried to take a picture. Except the screen of my viewfinder was all white, and there was a crack in the middle. The camera had been in my pocket during the bus ride because I was taking pictures of the Brazilian countryside; I realized that I must have sat on it and broken the screen during the trip. For a minute I was totally crushed. This was the first day of our trip and my camera was potentially destroyed. I decided to try and use it anyway, since it appeared as though it still registered the pictures. For the rest of the afternoon, I used the old "point and click" method to snap photos, never knowing what I was taking or if the images were being saved on my memory card. Even so, the excursion was unbelievably wonderful. I had never in my life seen such an abundance of natural beauty, and I couldn't wait to see the Argentine side the following day.

Hostel Bambu was nice and homey. It had a backyard breakfast patio and a pool, which is not bad for $10 a night. The staff was really fun, a mix of Brazilians and Argentines. David and I spent our evenings eating all we could at a restaurant called "Tropicana", playing pool in the common room, and joking with the workers and other guests in Portuguese, Spanish, and New Zealand-ish (the latter is definitely NOT English).

You need a tour guide to visit the Argentine side of the falls, so David and I paid around $50 each to make the excursion through the hostel. When the van picked us up, four giddy middle-aged Uruguayan women greeted us with, "¡Hola! ¿De dónde son? ¿mo se llaman?" I got a kick out of the way they pronounced the last word "chaman"... little did I know, the Argentine Spanish quirks to come would provide WAY more comedy for my Mexican ear, haha. There's lots of controversy among travelers as to which side of the falls is cooler. Brazil's half was awesome, but David and I both agreed that Argentina's was better. Maybe it was the twisting trails literally feet from the thundering water, or the brilliant rainbows, or the Uruguayans screaming "¡QUE DIVINO!" at every single stop- I don't know what qualifies my decision, but the Argentine side takes the cake. I can't remember the exact numbers our tour guide told us, but something like 12000 tourists visited the Brazilian side the day prior, and 8000 visited the Argentine side. Por favor believe it.

On Tuesday our bus to Buenos Aires didn't leave until 6pm, so David and I checked out of the hostel early and took the bus to Ciudad del Este, a shopping wonderland in Paraguay. It's the first place I've ever visited where street vendors accept payment in four different currencies- Paraguayan guarani, Brazilian reais, Argentine pesos and, of course, US dollars. We walked along the bustling sidewalks and haggled with the pushy vendors. Both of us ended up buying "authentic" soccer jerseys and Ray-Ban sunglasses for 50 pesos, or around $13. The vendor, who was our age, tried to sell us the shades alone for 60 pesos, but he quickly found out that we weren't the average tourists. That's what's up. Haha who am I kidding, he still made a profit!

On the bus back to Brazil two federal Paraguayan agents boarded and caught two people trying to bring back lots of purchases. It was a little unnerving, since our passports weren't stamped and officially we could be apprehended too. We sat quietly, our eyes hidden behind our stunna shades, and the agents didn't bother us. When they got off, the Brazilian woman behind us said, "Wow, that was a little scary, huh? You guys are lucky, sometimes they check everyone!" It was fun while it lasted, but at 6pm we were back on the bus and starting our 21-hour trip to Buenos Aires. This ride felt a little longer since I couldn't get to sleep, but like everything else, it passed. I realized at the Argentine border that we had visited three different countries in a half-day, a cool feat I might never repeat. We had spent the perfect amount of time in Iguazu, enough to see everything and meet everyone, and were both looking forward to some Argentine escapades in Buenos Aires.

No comments:

Post a Comment