Posted by: carogouin | May 19, 2010

goodbye, Argentina

Arching rainbow over the thunderous Iguazu Falls.

Having been in Argentina for almost 3 months already and scheduled to leave the country shortly, we couldn’t possibly miss seeing one of the greatest natural wonders the country has to offer – Iguazu Falls.  And considering it takes 17 hours by bus to get there from Buenos Aires, we were thrilled that Louise and Bill wanted to catch a flight up there with us.  So we left the city for a couple days and headed north into the jungle.  As we were landing, in the distance we could see clouds of mist hovering above the river – a clear sign of some powerful falls.

On the catwalks overlooking the falls.

On our first day we visited Iguazu National Park, where, sadly, we found out that the largest and reportedly most impressive section – aptly named the Devil’s Throat – was closed due to high water level.  Apparently Brazil had received a lot of rain recently, which flooded the catwalks leading up to the view point of the Devils Throat. We were a bit bummed, but still excited to see the other set of falls.  We made our way to the catwalks – a network of upper and lower walkways that take you right on top and right below the falls.  It was truly spectacular!  And because the water level was so high, these set of falls were even more impressive than usual.  The panoramic view was breathtaking and the constant rainbows piercing through the mist made it that much more magical.  Although the Brazilian side has a more panoramic view, the Argentine side gives you a closer and more dramatic experience of the water pouring over. The viewing platforms are built right to the edge of the waterfalls, where you see the rushing water plunge down into the roaring pit.

The falls were especially impressive due to recent rainfall.

Always a perfect rainbow.

Pat’s dangling foot - we were right at the edge of the falls, but still safe.

The water was so loud here you had to yell to be heard.

Caro, Louise and Bill in front of one of the many drops.

Check out the catwalks below.

We lucked out with weather and water level, the pictures don't do it justice.

A 'Plush-crested Jay' perched on a tree above the waterfalls.

A coati lurking nearby with his eye on the bird nest.

A magical place.

Due to the high water level, the end of this lower catwalk was closed off.

Bill and Louise in front of a smaller fall.

Our lovely hotel.

The next day we decided to go back into the park and get an even closer view of the falls.  We signed up for the “Adventure Tour” which takes you through a bit of the jungle by truck and sends you off on a boat upriver to cheat death as you enter the foot of the falls.  We thought it would be a tame boat ride, but with the high water it was crazy and a little scary.  They really brought us in there, enough that we got completely drenched (Pat even lost a contact) and terrified the boat would lose control, but it was fine.  Which reminds me – we read that in the early days of tourism here, they used to take passengers by row boat to the top of the falls and paddle like crazy so they wouldn’t go off the edge while the happy people took pictures leaning over.  They’ve since stopped doing that after one boat full of German tourists finally did go over the edge in 1936, Oops!  There were no survivors.

We boarded an ‘adventure boat ride’ to check out the falls up close.

Covered up as much as possible – it was useless.

We got drenched on the boat but dried off pretty fast.

We spent our evenings at a nice little Italian owned hotel in Puerto Iguazu lounging around, playing cards (Hearts to be exact – we’ve grown a bit addicted), drinking wine, and eating the delicious Italian food at their new restaurant.  Before we left, we took a blazing hot stroll in town up to the Three Frontiers viewpoint – standing in Argentina and gazing across the river at Brazil to the right and Paraguay to the left: two countries that we will miss on this trip.  It’s hard to believe that although Brazil makes up 43% of the continent, we won’t visit it this time.  We will just have to save it for another trip in the future!

On Argentine soil with Brazil to the right and Paraguay to the left.

Louise and Bill at the viewpoint over the 3 countries.

We made it back to Buenos Aires just in time for another set of guests to arrive – my parents!  Bernard and Denise landed on a Friday morning and quickly adjusted to the vacation schedule.  It was great having them with us and we had a wonderful time together. I was also very lucky to have my mom here on Mother’s Day! After missing a slew of birthdays and anniversaries this past year, it made me happy to share at least one during our travels. For the next few days, we went on long walks through the city, visited the Recoleta cemetery, toured the upscale Puerto Madero, and went to see tango dancers in San Telmo.  Pat’s Uncle Bill and Aunt Louise still had a couple of days left in the city, so we shared a few dinners together and on one night attended a bizarre acrobatics show in the middle of Plaza San Martin.  Using cables strewn between buildings, performers zip-lined across wearing angel costumes and releasing feathers into the crowd below.  At one point a large inflatable angel creature was guided through the crowd.  A bit odd, but interesting – we left early as the feathers were getting to us.

Caro, Bernard and Denise enjoying a beautiful plaza in BA.

A massive gum tree at the heart of the plaza.

Another fine day in the Recoleta cemetery.

A unique acrobatics show in San Martin plaza – they were dropping feathers on the crowd. We didn't really understand what it was all about.

Walking around the modern Puerto Madero neighborhood.

An old Argentina Navy ship turned into a museum on the canal. Reminded us of the Winfli!

Bernard and Pat on board.

On Wednesday we decided to get out of the city for a while and do like most Porteños on the weekend: head over to the waterfront town of Tigre, where many families have summer homes along the rivers and inlets.  Only 35 km outside of BA, we took the train up and enjoyed a delightful afternoon roaming through the sleepy coastal town with Amsterdam-style canals cutting through.  We jumped on a ferry boat and got to see the “mansions” lining the river.  They were definitely not American-standard mansions by any means, but cute and lovely summer homes nonetheless.

The latte-colored canal of Tigre.

At lunch in Tigre.

Thanks Mom and Dad for making the trip down!

A passenger boat cruising down the river in Tigre.

We spent the last few days of their visit walking around and doing a little shopping.  Buenos Aires is a prime shopping center for leather goods – wallets, belts, shoes, etc.  I had to live vicariously through my mom as we looked for a perfect pair of boots for her at almost half the US price – not something I can easily stick in my backpack, oh well.  After a wonderful week together, we had to bid farewell to Bernard and Denise.  Although knowing I will see them again soon made it easier to say goodbye this time.  Our apartment also felt a bit empty after hosting family for 3 weeks, but we spent this time organizing, packing and gearing up for our next adventure coming up in Peru!

Our last day being tourists in the city – on the BA bus tour, it was freezing!

Colorful facades in La Boca neighborhood.

We'll miss you Argentina.

Thank you to our parents and Bill and Louise for coming down and sharing part of our journey through South America!  And thank you to Leslie and Tim for meeting us for dinner last week, before wrapping up their own South American adventure! It always makes it more special to be able to share these experiences with family and friends and we are deeply grateful for it!

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Responses

  1. Adios… beautiful Buenos Aires y Argentina! Iguazu looks amazing, such power and volume. Safe travels and have fun in Peru.

  2. We had such a good time with you guys!! Thank you so much for inviting us down. The Falls were spectacular and we are still talking about them. (I want that photo of Bill on the Adventure Boat Ride for our Christmas card this year.) We really enjoyed spending time with Bernard and Denise too. Safe travels for the rest of your trip.


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