Cataratas de Iguazu

I am so glad that I made the effort to get to see the amazing waterfalls at Iguazu. We spent most of the day in the national park and it took about 5 hours to see everything. The waterfalls border three countries, Argentina, Brasil and slightly further downstream is Paraguay. At the top of the waterfalls can be found the “Garganta Del Diablo” or “Devils Throat”. The amount of water here is immense and where 14 falls plunge 350 feet throwing constant spray high into the air. Further down the waterfalls are numerous and truely awe inspiring. It has to be one of the highlights of the trip along with the Salar De Uyuni in Bolivia and the Perito Moreno Glacier in Patagonia.

We also took the boat trip that costs 30 pesos (about 5 quid), which for about 10 to 15 minutes takes you up to both main waterfalls and then proceeds to give you a good soaking, or as the guy who helped us onto the boat said quite aptly, “a good shower”!! We did indeed get the shower and was a fanastic experience. I cannot emphasise enough that if you find yourself in South America, Iguazu is a place not to be missed. I practically filled the memory card on my camera just with photos from the falls.

Apparently Eleanor Roosevelt said when she saw Iguazu for the first time, “poor Niagara”. It is interesting that even though Iguazu is four times the width of Niagara Falls it gets much less publicity worldwide. Angel Falls on the other hand, being the highest drop in the world is better known in South America and I would like to have been able to have seen that too. Oh, well, since Brasil has been completely missed out, and I love this Argentina so much, I guess I will have to return at some point!

View the photos of Iguazu Falls (Cataratas De Iguazu), Argentina.

We made the bus trip back to Buenos Aires overnight and arrived just before lunch today. Looking through the guide book and talking to people in the hostel is getting me worried that I am never going to see as much of Buenos Aires before I go as I would have liked. From a first impression BA is stunningly beautiful. The area of San Telmo is quite picturesque, but I am told that Pallermo is even better, especially at night. Alot of the things to do here revolve around the weekends, such as watching a football game at Boca Juniors or River Plate, plus tango demonstrations in the street occur often on Sunday nights. It is a pity that I will miss some of these things but I plan to make sure that I see as much as possible before my flight back at the end of the week.

My time is nearly up. The six months have both flown and crawled at times. I cannot believe that it is nearly over. The bacon sandwiches and sunday roast draw near. The clothes I am now sick off, and the backpack that is my friend and enemy holding those said items of fading apparel is as tired as I am. I cannot wait to get back and see my family and friends, drive a car again and taste that drab British food that the rest of the world teases us for. But I will miss the freedom to do nothing, seeing everything, smelling new things, meeting people from all over the world and having new experiences. I love seeing each nation and the people living in their own way, yet still desiring the same things that apply to everyone, regardless of race, colour or creed – a roof over your head, food on the table, education and a bit of money in the pocket for a rainy day.

Indeed the best choice I made to do this. I will always remember Tim and I sitting there at work, normally late, working on something that needed to be delivered “yesterday”, saying to each other, “What the hell are we doing here mate? We could be travelling around South America now!!”. The dreams were dreamed and for me I had to go. The decision was hard to take, but once the ticket was bounght everything fell into place. For Tim the bankruptcy at Apex Interactive was the final “sign from God”, or more appropriately “kick up the ass” that he needed to fly out to Guatemala and join me on this road trip.

Tim often said, quite aptly that, “we aren’t backpackers or travellers. That is all bollocks. All we are are budget tourists”. I reckon he is completely right. We occasionally meet people who are pretentiously “trying to find themselves”, or dreadlocked and out here “courtesy of Daddy, before I go to university”, but most of the people here are just that, budget tourists who took the risk to chuck in the jobs that are no longer for life, and taking advantage of our good fortune to have been born in a country that permits us to travel, allows us financially to earn way higher in comparison to the nations in which we travel in.

We are the lucky ones. Amen.

To the waterfalls in Puerto Iguazu…

One night in Buenos Aires and we decided that the 18 hour bus trip would be worth it to visit the spectacular cascades, or waterfalls that borders with Brasil, Argentina and Paraguay. We arrived today to stay in the sister hostel of the one we stayed in Buenos Aires. The major bonus is that we have a swimming pool and have spent the majority of the day doing nothing  but topping up on the tan, which is very necessary for me considering the lack of time I have left now.

Tomorrow we will get the bus to the waterfalls and take a walk through the national park there. We also plan to take a  small boat right up close to the waterfalls, where apparently you get very, very  wet! I hopefully will get some great photos and also not get the camera too wet!

Buenos Aires

We left Ushuaia this afternoon on route to Buenos Aires, technically my last port of call before I head back to the UK. We met a Irish girl in the airport who had been in the hostel we had stayed in on our first night in Ushuaia. After landing safely in a rather comfortably warm BA, we headed to the same hostel as her, which thankfully had room, as I hate having to locate hostels with spare beds in big cities whilst wandering around with a backpack.

We are considering disappearing off to Iguazu Falls tomorrow for a few days. Everybody I have talked to has said it is a must see. There have been so many places that I “must see” in Argentina and I guess I have missed a fair few of them. It means therefore that I must return here, not that I mind though. I love this country!

Before leaving Ushuaia this morning I spent a short time in the Maritime Museum. They interestingly had a couple of small rooms dedicated to the Falklands War. To many in Argentina it is a sad history of pointless loss of life based on a failing military government out to win an election, who embarked on a conflict with the British based on a set of islands that the British had been secretly trying to give back to the Argentines for years. A large memorial to the sailors that lost their lives when the Belgrano was sunk is also in Ushuaia, plus the maps you see normally claim the Falklands, or Islas Malvines as Argentinian. I find it ironic that Margaret Thatchers government won the next election off the back of that successful campaign. It will be something I think I will read more about when I return home as I find it quite an interesting subject.

Anyway, not much to report, apart from the fact that I am safe and well and staying in San Telmo, Buenos Aires, Argentina! Yeeeeah!

Penguins in the Beagle Channel!!

I don’t know about most people, but I find penguins extremely amusing. A bird that can’t fly, waddles about on land and swims like a fish. Ushuaia was as good as it gets to see penguins live and in the flesh. We made the tour out to the Estancia Haberton, the oldest estancia, or farm, on Tierra del Fuego. By bus from Ushuaia it took about an hour, passing trees bent to the prevailing winds from the east. Bleak and desolate it reminded me of areas around Oban in Scotland, a harsh, cold and desperate place to live.

Arriving at the estancia at just before lunch we settled with a cup of tea and waited for the boat. Looking at the family history on the walls the family from England who had chosen this end of the world to settle had kept exact records of the births, deaths and marriages over the years and made interesting reading.

View the photos of the Estancia Haberton, Tierra Del Fuego, Patagonia, Argentina.

We took a large rigid hulled inflatable, of the kind that the RNLI use. Notably similar the one that saved my life at 19 years old sailing in Carmathen Bay. We speeded out into the Beagle chanel towards the “penguinera”, essentially a nature reserve where the penguins come to nest and rear their young. The trip we had chosen was expensive by Argentine standards, costing 170 pesos (over 30 GBP), but was one of the few that took us onto to the nature reserve and allowed us to walk around, although severely controlled. We had a really nice guide, a local girl who was studying German in Cordoba. Her English was excellent and explained a great deal to us about the natural cycle for the penguins. We hadn’t arrived at the best time, most of the chicks having being born late last year and having left already for the north near Puerto Madryn, but there was still plenty to see. The wind is a constant reminder of how close you are to Cape Horn, and the many wrecks that lie there as a result of the consistently bad weather. We spent 45 minutes on the island and I got some great photos, until the rain started to belt it at 30 degrees to the horizontal and most of the tourists gave up and headed back to the boat.

View the photos of the Penguineria, Beagle Channel, Tierra Del Fuego, Patagonia, Argentina.

Tim and would have loved to have dressed a penguin up in Groucho Marx glasses and a funny hat (since all animals in hats are funny) but I’m afraid our guide wouldn’t permit it. Maybe another time!