Tango Mishaps y Las Cataratas de Iguazu
2/22/06 27 °C
I am currently sitting in an internet cafe in Puerto Iguazu in northern Argentina, right on the border with Brasil. It is 82 degrees outside with 80% humidity and I´m starting to feel a bit woozy, but I´ll try to keep this good!
So starting where we last left off, last Friday. Paul left in the afternoon to take a ferry to Uruguay for a few days, to hit up the beaches, those crazy California boys, so I was solo for the weekend. He is quite the party animal and I´ve been trying my best to keep up but I´m pretty lame in the end, so I sent him off to party and meet girls and all that kind of stuff in another country. That evening, I actually did make it to Jonah´s show, which was so good, a type of country-rock mix held in a dark cultural center, with Jonah playing the harmonica like a true rock star, crawling around on the floor and throwing microphones all over. True star quality. During the show, I made friends with Frederico, a PhD student on his 7th year (out of eleven!) of studies and since the neighborhood was grainy, he offered to walk me to my next destination, a tango club down the street. Well, the address I had written down turned out be a parking deck (typical me, huh) so we ended up going out for a drink in the busy San Telmo plaza. Frederico told me all about the science fiction book he was writing and how there is a lochness monster in the lakes of Bariloche (the next stop on my route) that eats Israeli girls with ketchup. I might have to skip Bariloche now. Damn. I hopped on a cab home and passed out by 2, very pathetic I know. The next morning I woke up early to switch hostels, since the landlady at the old one was really angry at Paul for accidently taking one of her big red towels when he had left the day before. I don´t know what I had to do with the whole situation but it was time to peace out before things got ugly. I arrived in Tango City Hostel, an MTV style hostel, with Madonna blaring in the background and young beautiful people strolling around looking...young and beautiful.
The first order of business was to inquire about tango classes. The guy at the front desk immediately proclaimed "There are none!" But that´s impossible, I replied. Tango City Hostel, hellooo?? to which he said "Do not worry, beautiful. I am a professional tango dancer. I shall teach you". I sized him up, he was wearing a Pearl Jam tshirt, but he seemed sincere so I agreed and asked when, the response to which was "I have a very busy day today, so I shall teach you now, in this lobby". The kids at the front desk started giggling and switched Jack Johnson to some over-the-top tango music and he positioned me in the center of lobby and we started dancing the tango, except it wasn´t at all the tango, because he didn´t know how to dance the tango. Five funny minutes later, after we´d all been entertained, I gave up on him and went out to explore the neighborhood. I went to Parque Lezama, a huge old estate with sprawling trees and pretty sculptures, where old men were playing chess and checkers in the shade. I bought some food at the supermarket, ate an awful pasta dinner at the hostel with a couple of Norwegians, and went out on my own to see this AWESOME tango show called Tango Emocion that I had found for really cheap on the local circuit. It was so beautiful and the show was really well put together...I loved it. That night, I went out with another solo girl traveller from Israel...just drinks at the port. Our conversation was the most confusing mix of English, Spanish, and Hebrew and my head was spinning by the end of the night. There were some crazy Brits at the hostel that were playing the loudest drinking game I´ve ever heard in my life, 6 boys surrounded by 36 (empty) litre bottles of beer, so it was nice to get a breath of fresh air.
The next day, I explored La Boca neighborhood. I hadn´t really researched this part of town so I wandered around aimlessly in cool neighborhoods with the locals. I only found out later that I had entirely missed all the tourist hot spots, mainly the glitzy caminito by the water. Oops. It´s okay though, because I of course had my own little adventure. At one point, there were dozens of locals crossing this empty dusty field and then jumping through a row of tall bushes. When in doubt do as the locals do of course, so I walked across the field and jumped through the bushes, only to jump into a chaotic army of crazed soccer fans. Apparently, this was the backstreet way to the futbol stadium and the game was starting in 30 minutes so thousands and thousands of people were running around singing and yelling. All of a sudden, police sirens went off and the motorcycle brigade came through, making way for the La Boca Jrs. team bus, all the crazed fans sprinting after it, yelling and pounding on the windows. The futbol players inside did not seem impressed unfortunately. I sat there for an hour just watching the scene, especially the rowdy crowd at Gate 12 that charged at the police and got beaten back by riot sticks and that´s when it was time to go. I hopped on the 17 hour bus to Iguazu Falls, which, 17 hours, sounds awful, but is actually pretty relaxing. It´s an overnight cama bus, where you get a fully reclining bed, dinner, movies, and even champagne! Best bus experience I´ve ever had...Greyhound, you´re sooo going down!
Paul was supposed to meet me in Iguazu but he had run into a world of trouble when his Uruguay-Argentina ferry took 6 extra hours to go back to BA (uruguyan rule of thumb is to multiply any time estimate by 3. so for example, a "3 hour ferry ride" will actually take 9. at least), and to top it all of, he got off at the wrong stop on his cama bus and ended up having to take a 4 hour bumpy cab ride to Iguazu. So we by chance finally met up at the hostel and just relaxed the rest of the day in the searing heat. Yesterday, we met early for breakfast and headed out to Iguazu Falls, the most awesome day of my trip so far. Iguazu is a national park that has 275 waterfalls, including the famed Garganta del Diablo, "Devil´s Throat", that is twice as high as Niagara Falls where the water crashes down 350 feet with another huge water mist of nearly 100 feet! It´s absolutely amazing...like a huge black hole in the middle of the earth with a incredible thundering force of water. Definitely one of the great wonders of the world! We visited the site, explored the rainforests all around the park for hours watching these blackbirds swoop down against one waterfall, where they had made their nest right in the crest of the fall, and then took a speedboat that crashed us right under several waterfalls, soaking everything in sight within 1/2 a second! Around 4 o´clock, we were exploring San Martin´s Island when this monsoon of a storm crashed in, the rain thundering down like bullets, you couldn´t see a foot ahead of you. Hundreds of tourists started running toward the shore, people were cowering underneath rocks while thunder and lightning streaked violently across the sky. I am so prepared...I brought my trusty CVS emergency poncho which we wrapped around our heads and tried to blindly make our way toward the mile long line for the first boat off the island. The monsoon lasted for 30 minutes...it was so powerful. And then the sun came out like nothing had happened but we were all drenched to bone, with mud splattered all over. We finally made it out of the park, took the bus to the town center, and in our dirty and wet clothes, sat down and had the best meal ever...steak and fries and salad with red wine and bread. Hmm. I´ve never eaten so good. That adventure deserved a nap and at 3 in the morning, we woke up to go clubbing at Cuba Libre, a latin hot spot, before we crashed again at 6 am. What a life! See this link for cool pictures of Iguazu http://gosouthamerica.about.com/od/topdestiguazu/ig/Iguazu-Falls-Photo-Gallery/index.htm.
I bid Paul farewell this morning, he is going back to the States to open up a bar in San Francisco. It´s been really fun. Travelling buddies, they just come and go unfortunately, it is what it is. And now I just wait for my 2 o´clock cama bus back to Buenos Aires. What a place...Iguazu. Absolutely great. I am having dinner tomorrow night in Palermo with my Norwegian travelling buddy so hopefully we´ll connect well. Pictures to come soon when they are emailed to me. I need to get a camera, huh... Til next time. Suerte!