We're Never Coming Back

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Thursday, August 31, 2006

Day 107 - Puerto Iguazú


argentina There's not much to report from Iguazú. Its pretty self explanatory. After the 36 hour bus ride, which became 40 hours because some kid threw a brick through the bus window after 28 hours (no one got hurt guys, its fine), and after having an AMAZING steak in a super fancy restaurant the night before, we hopped on the wrong bus (one heading to Brasil), jumped off at the border, and hopped on another to the falls.




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Was it worth the 40 hours? Yep. Pretty much. Its AMAZING. Seriously, there's a shed load of water, the sound is intense, the place is beautiful, and the birds dancing around the crashing water like lightning bolts is awesome. Apparently this area has had the worst winter in 150 years, so the water level was pretty low. At high season, I reckon it would blow your head off. But we were quietly happy with what we found. And the photos, whilst not capturing it properly, do a pretty good job.


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Monday, August 28, 2006

Day 104 - Mendoza

argentina Mendoza is NICE. It has parks, it has shops, it has museums, and its small enough to walk around in the two days we had. Perfect.

We arrived at 8am, grabbed a cab to a hostel, had some breakfast and laughed at Nicki, one of the hostel residents, who appears in numerous hilarious photos on the hostels photo-wall. We headed straight out, and caught a student show at the local modern art museum, before heading into town (3 blocks away from the hostel!) and grabbing some lunch.


Mendoza has this enormous park, again, right by our hostel, so we headed out to explore it. It pretty special. Its HUGE, and green and peaceful and amazing. We spent a good 3 hours wandering around it, before grabbing an amazing dinner (possibly the best steak I ever had, no less) at a restaurant called DON TRISTÁNS. My steak was called a "tristan roll". Love it.

The next day we headed to an amazing contemporary art museum. Beautiful building, nice sculpture, and an exhibition about some old dude with a young wife who seems to have travelled the world in his 90s. We also got to taste some honey from the mendoza area. which was a bit gross to be honest, but sam bought some cos she thought the woman was sweet. sucker.


(but to you, sweet tongue of Germany, I have chosen and searched for you, alone. Through vigiliance and grammar, from the jungle of the inflected nouns, of the dictionary, that is never correct with its precise nuances, i was drawing myself closer)

after that, tristan and I headed to the park for a long walk. We'd downed a glass of san-pedro spiked hot water before going in the hope that we might rub some trees, but it didn't work. Instead, we just lounged in the sun admiring the beauty of this place, before we booked ourselves on a, get this, 36 HOUR BUS JOURNEY to see the Iguazú falls. Are we nuts? pretty much.

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Friday, August 25, 2006

Day 101 - Córdoba

argentina Argentina is BIG. Its huge. And whilst it was ok to do just a tiny bit of Brasil, for my last south american country I wasn't accepting any old little trip. With plans still to visit Córdoba, Iguazú and even Uruguay in just 2 weeks, we had a steep mission on our hands. 22 hours after leaving Puerto Madryn, we arrived in Córdoba and went on search for a hostel.

Everyone said Córdoba was amazing. It doesn't really look it though. The town looks like any other argentine town, without any high-blocks. And the river that runs through it is a mere trickle. The city centre (its the second largest city in Argentina) is small, with hardly any restaurants, and its kinda dirty. Not impressed with first appearances, we scoured the streets for a restaurant, found a local cinema and ate some ice cream and popcorn. We narrowly avoided a proper mugging as well, on 4-block walk home from the cinema at midnight when some dude started following us. Sam started almost running, tristan trotted after her, and I directed us towards a bus stop where some other people were. The dude came up behind us, waiting near us (presumable until the other people got on a bus) at which sam had the bright idea to get in a cab for the remaining ONE BLOCK to our hostel. which we did. That is, me and tristan did. Sam's door was broken, so she had to run round the cab, full of fear, to the drivers door. But we made it in. and we made it back to the hostel safe. Potential mugging - no problem for us seasoned travellers.

Day 2 in Córbode was MUCH better. We visited the religious art museum, which we got guided round by this amazing woman, and the place was special. Beautiful courtyard, amazing art, nice sculpture, and God was all over the place. Loved it.

I had a weird argument about the Falklands, Margaret Thatcher, Lady Di and David Beckham in a tourist information booth, we took a cab out of town and found a museum of contemporary art which we perused for an hour. And after that, we had a ride on the Ghost Train at the local fun fair.

We then headed to the local zoo. NOW, I've never been one for zoos. And certainly not foreign zoos. I would never DREAM of going to a foreign zoo, especially not in a second/third world country. But we did, because its argentina, and we thought it would have some element of class, like the rest of the country. And 15 minutes in, we turned round and walked right out. This place was grim. No decent photos, cos it was properly sick, but they have tigers, lions, elephants, gorillas, pumas, everything. And we didn't see any of them. They were in dirty cages, were dying in the scorching sun and looked so horrendously miserable. I was properly ashamed of myself. Never again. And CERTAINLY not in china.

SICK SICK SICK. Córdoba zoo should be shut down

We jumped on the local city tour bus, which was AMAZING, and had the same tour guide as before. Its one of our favourite things to do, and it didn't dissappoint. I got a super cute picture of my boyfriend too. I have no idea how I managed to pull someone so hot, but I did. Love it.


That evening I cooked Bolognase for us, then in the morning we wandered the streets of the city whilst waiting for our bus to Mendoza. After an hour looking for a museum, which we found out was closed, we went to the flea market. which was closed. so got a cab to a shopping centre instead. which was dull. then back to the flea market, which was open. but a bit rubbish. so headed back to the hostel. Córboda was not on our side. But we found an all you can eat chinese restaurant, and filled our bellies before a 10 hour bus ride into the Andes.

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Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Day 99 - Puerto Madryn

argentina 20 hours on a bus might sound pretty horrendous, but these days its second nature to us. After boarding at 8pm at night, half-sleeping at a 45 degree angle unable to get comfortable and playing bingo in spanish at 11am, we found ourselves in Puerto Madryn, on the Atlantic coast of argentina in the middle of Patagonia. Nothing much to do here, except to watch whales bobbing around near the coast. We trotted down to the beach where we could see whales in the distance splashing around, and dreamed of seeing them upclose the next day.

And up close is how we saw them. With no real expectation of what we would experience, we donned some life jackets, and headed 2 minutes out to sea where within minutes these enormous whales would swim under our boat, flicking their tails out of the water, and spraying from their blow-holes. These things are HUGE. At least the length and width of a bus, they were within 20m of metres of us and we were all transfixed. It was special.

But then we saw the good stuff. After rocketing out to sea for just 10 minutes, with the shore still in sight, our guide pointed out to sea where we saw something I never thought I would see in my whole life. From out of nowhere, this double-decker bus sized whale jumped out of the water, at least two thirds of its body, then crashed on its back into the water, spraying water everywhere and creating a noise like the dynamite we blew up in the Bolivian mines. It was unreal. I knew they did it, I'd seen it on the discovery channel, but SEEING it was unbelievable.

They carried on jumping for ages, seemingly defying gravity, and everytime we watched in awe. It was truely one of the most amazing sights I have seen IN MY LIFE, not just on this trip. And something I know I will never forget. AND THEN, as if we hadn't seen enough, one whale slowly approached our boat, until it was within touching distance. At just less than a metre from the boat, this enormous whale starts poking its head out from under the water so that it could see us with its eye. Then it starts poking it tail out, and spraying us with its blow-hole. No lies here, this whale WANTED to check us out, and even play with us. It was amazing. and for 20 minutes we just watched it. No wonder they are an endangered species, these animals think humans are fascinating.

But we couldn't watch them all day, even though we wanted to. We headed back to land, then mini-bused our way across the peninsula to a point where we saw elephant seals lazing on the beach in the sun. We were being destroyed by amazing examples of nature, at every turn a new species of animal or beatiful landscape. We wandere ddown to the elephant seals, just to be told that a week before we could have walked within metres of them, a week later and we would have seen penguins and a month later we would have see Killer Whales launching themselves ashore to eat baby seals then wriggling back to the sea. Bad timing. But what we DID see was unbelieveable. As we went to leave the site, we caught a glimpse of another whale jumping right next to the shore line. This place was magical.

As we returned, we hopped off at the bus station and booked our tickets to Cordoba, a 24 hour bus ride this time, then headed home for a Mate tea and watched some dogs leave the local Dog Brothel. Promised green parks, nice walks and a cute city, we boarded the bus and tried to make ourselves comfortable...

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