My Weekend in Iguazú: 9/5-9/7
It's Friday morning (9/5), and my alarm goes off at seemingly the crack of dawn, but it is just 6am. Our flight is scheduled for 9am from the local Buenos Aires Airport, called Jorge Newbury Aeroparque, and I'm struggling to crawl out of bed with the sound of a torrential downpour going on outside. After hitting the snooze button more than once, I figured that I should finally get myself together before heading to the airport with Ben, Sarah, and Cristi. Needless to say, the highlight of my morning was walking into my bathroom and seeing my first Argentine cucaracha.. Or cockroach. Without waking up the whole house I managed to avoid the thing and escape from the bathroom without any other problems. Finally the shenanigans before even leaving the house came to a climax when we struggled to grab a taxi on the street and through the phone because no one was stopping for us or answering the calls. Eventually we got a taxi, made it to the airport on time with everyone in my program, and things were getting better; at least until my program advisor, Gaby, was 45 minutes late with our boarding passes because her taxi never showed up. And that, was the start of my trip to Iguazú.
After a rocky start, things got significantly better once we were settled. We did not have to sprint through the airport as I anticipated, and had enough time to spare in the terminal. When you think of airport security in the United States, you tend to think of them as some of the most miserable and strict people on the planet. In Argentina, it is the exact opposite. To put it into perspective, everything at Jorge Newbury was very laizze-faire. They did not care about the "minor" things that other airports and airlines would. I was blessed with the gift of window seats on BOTH of my flights to and from Iguazú so that was also a plus. One added moment of pure genius on my part was spilling my friend John's hot tea all over him and myself while on the plane. Once again, rocky start to the trip..
We arrived in Iguazú (e-gua-zoo) at 11am on Friday morning. The distance between Buenos Aires and Iguazú is about 18 hours via car or bus, but only an hour and a half flight (thank God).
Just to give you some background information about Iguazú, the town is located in the Misiones Province of Argentina, which is in the northeast region of the country. The area borders both Brazil and Paraguay, so they are frequented with visitors from both countries. Since it is closer to the equator, the temperature for this time was a little bit warmer, ranging between 75 to 85 degrees while we were there (and I had no complaints about that weather). In addition, the area is surrounded by "Subtropical Forests" and NOT Rainforests, which I was quickly corrected on once we got there. Either way, the place is surrounded by jungle, so that's that.
On our first day in Iguazú, we settled in at our hotel and explored the town of Puerto Iguazú. The town has a nice and relaxed vibe to it, so I enjoyed it very much. There are a lot of local shops and small stores within the center of the town, and it is much less developed than Buenos Aires, for example. The people seemed to be more genuine and less concerned with petty nuances in life. Many of the people also are considered Guarani, which is an indigenous tribe of the region. They have their own language, have chieftains that act as liaisons between themselves and the outside world, and have largely decreased in size since the rise of the mestizo and further European Colonization. Finally the Guarani language is also one of the two official languages of Paraguay; who knew?
After trying my first lomito (which is basically a steak sandwich) at the restaurant we stopped at, we went further into Puerto Iguazú to La Triple Frontera. This area is the point where the Rio Parana and Rio Iguazú meet between Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay. It was very cool to see this place, as each country has an obelisk displaying their country's colors as well as a structure recognizing that it is one of the few tri-country areas in South America. See pictures of that below ⬇️ Finally that night we hung out at the hotel and got food and drinks from the hotel's bar and restaurant.
On Saturday (9/6) we had our full day excursion to Iguazú Nacional Parque where there are over 270 cataratas (waterfalls) cascading down into the river. To begin, the first part of the day was spent on the top area above the waterfalls on catwalks and bridges. Thereafter, we went down towards the water level for more views of one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. It was easily the coolest place I have ever been to, and pictures do not justify it's phenomenal-ness. We saw a lot of different wildlife there but the most noteworthy animal was the coatí, which are basically equivalent to a racoon and they were everywhere. There is a picture of them below as well.
One of the highlights of the day was doing our boat tour around the waterfalls and getting drenched underneath some of them. Definitely an experience that I will never forget. Then we got lunch at a new restaurant and I had the best Tropical Salad of my life so all was well. Saturday evening and night was spent back at the hotel just hanging out with my friends in the program. I also had the greatest nap of my life on a hammock, so what could be better?
Things were smooth sailing until an unwanted critter appeared in my two friends' room. It was a tarantula. At this point it was 2 o'clock in the morning and I managed to sleep through the whole thing. After a 2 hour struggle with the tarantula and the front desk staff, the tarantula was caught.. I am relatively glad that I missed this, but also a bit upset because I always enjoy a good shitshow with my friends.
Finally on Sunday (9/7) we had a few hours devoted to some excursions around Iguazú. We had the chance to go rappelling down a 100+ foot cliff, go zip lining over the jungle canopy, ride quads through the trees, and explore some of the other parts of the jungle on foot. We did not see much exotic wildlife only because they usually only come out at night (like jaguars), but it was still a great opportunity. The combination of all of these adventures made my time in Iguazú even better than I originally anticipated. Also the image of my roommate Ben crashing his quad into a bush in the jungle still makes me laugh when I think about it today. Classic.
We ended Sunday by hanging out at the pool of our hotel and enjoyed the last few hours of relaxation before heading back to the hustle and bustle of Buenos Aires that night.
All in all, my time in Iguazú was easily one of the best weekends of my life. I saw and traveled to a place where I would only have dreamed to go, and it was unforgettable. Feel free to take a look at all of the pictures that I have posted from the trip (even though a camera does not give the waterfalls and town it's justice).
This week I am in the midst of prepping for my Midterm Exams next week. Also this Friday is the day that I am forced to dance Tango at the Universidad de Belgrano's International Night.. shoot me now. I guess this is what I get for taking a Tango Class while in the Tango Capital of the World? Either way, that story is for another blog post. Thanks for reading and talk to you soon! Be great.
"The use of traveling is to regulate imagination by reality, and instead of thinking how things may be, to see them as they are." – Samuel Johnson