Published: March 11th 2012March 10th 2012
Ok, all I can say is this was seriously some of the most fun I have had in years! I will bounce around a little in the order of the story, but please, hang in there because today was so fricken awesome I can barely contain myself. Usually when I travel I am fine just sitting here after the fact, writing my blog; however, today I have the overwhelming urge to pick up the phone and tell everyone about it in person. It was really, truly that fun. But, since my phone doesn't have an international plan and is turned off until I return home, I will have to try to convey my experiences in the written form. And again, this is the truth, I am laying in a hammock on my private screened porch in the jungle. It is dead quiet with the exception of birds and wild life. To get to this hotel, we had to drive down a small road, turn onto an actual dirt road and finally ended up on a rock cobblestone type road. It is the most exotic place I have ever stayed. My glass of wine is on the ground so I don't spill
it on my laptop, just in case you were wondering.
Let's back up a bit, I didn't blog yesterday because it was spent traveling. I had an 11:15 shuttle pick up to the airport. It was late. I had the front desk call. It arrived. You will see a pattern here, which is why I am writing in these short phrases. We got to the airport in plenty of time. I had brought 2 check through bags due to the fact that it is so hot up in Rio and Iguazu but cold down in the southern part of my trip. Yes, I feel like a rookie traveler, but it's not easy packing shorts, a winter coat, waterproof pants, tennis shoes for the shorts, hiking boots and so on into 1 suitcase. They didn't blink an eye, and passed the smaller bag as a carry on. Score. No extra money required. The plane was delayed. The gate changed. Nice flight. They served us a ham and cheese sandwich, granola bar and caramel, so I was happy. In Buenos Aires I had a half hour to clear immigration, pick up my bag, clear customs, check my bag and get to
the gate for my next flight. I kind of tucked my pleasant, polite self away and ended up body checking someone who didn't want to let me out of the plane before him. Sometimes it is part of traveling. It wasn't that bad to get through immigration or customs, but I was pushing for time. Then I found out the flight was delayed. Wait, change gate, wait, board. We were over an hour and a half late, which isn't that bad in all actuality. It was a nice flight to Iguazu and we had the ham and cheese sandwich, granola bar, caramel box for dinner. For the first time ever, my suitcase was the First One out of the chute. I pushed the person who wouldn't let me in, grabbed it and found a taxi. We drove about 25 Km, ending up on a dark, dirt road. Now who wouldn't start to think about all the bad things that could happen to a traveler in the jungle on a dark road in a foreign country all by themselves? I have to confess, I did, but we pulled into the Jungle Lodge. The taxi left and I went to check in.
Had it been my hotel, things would have been great. Unfortunately, I was staying at La Cantera Jungle Lodge. Dang, I even showed the taxi driver the paperwork and still ended up at the wrong hotel at 11 PM. The desk clerk was super nice and helpful and called the taxi driver as well as my hotel until things were resolved. Then we sat and chatted about wine. He was so nice that it calmed me down. I wrote a nice letter to that hotel this morning so they would know how much I appreciated his help.
I had arranged for the taxi driver last night to meet me at my hotel at 8 this morning to take me to Iguazu Falls Park. He was on time and helped me into the Park as well as found a tour guide who spoke English. I signed up for the Green Passport that included all of the sections offered. First, I walked to a small train that took me to the path leading to the Garganta del Diablo Falls. This is the largest and most incredible Falls. I will put a whole lot of pictures up so you can see how
impressive it was. Even standing on the pathway, the spray was pretty soaking. I was glad I had a waterproof camera. Even with that, the lens had water on it, so lots of photos have spots. It was all part of the fun. After walking back, 8 of us were put into a rubber boat and rowed through the jungle of the shallow Upper Iguazu River. How quiet and relaxing that was. The train was packed, crowded and quite frankly pretty grim in my book. By taking the boat, I was able to see a snake, tortoise and enjoy some quiet time on the water.
Once I left the quiet boat ride, I took the trail to the Upper Circuit. The views of the various falls ranged from nice to holy cow impressive. The downside was that it was packed. At hot photo spots, we would have to wait our turn to stand for a few seconds to pose, smile and get the heck out of the way. Still, it was truly amazing to be there and see and hear all that water roaring over the falls. I was very impressed with how many paths and signs there were.
This place has it down and does it right. After the Upper Circuit, I took the Lower Circuit. It covered a lot of the same area as the Upper Circuit, but was closer to the water and was more wet. The largest falls on this walk, the Salto Bossetti, drenched everyone pretty darn good. Being that it was an incredible hot, sunny day I counted this as a good thing. Every few hours I would stop to slather on sunscreen. The thought of burning to a crisp was not one I wanted to entertain. The Lower Circuit wandered through the jungle. There were lots of butterflies, birds and these animals that are related to the raccoon family, called Coati Mundi. At one point I was sitting alone killing time before the big boat tour and a pack of these animals came where I was sitting. One actually brushed up against me as it went past looking for food. It reminded me of the Apes of Gibraltar.
My favorite part of the day was the Zodiac boat trip to the San Martin, Bossetti and Salot Tres Mosqueteros falls. It is always an ominous sign when we are told to put
ANYTHING that we don't want to get wet into big pouches that are to be folded several times and clipped shut. All I can say is "Wow!" The trip towards the falls was fast and lighthearted. We then stopped and were told to get ready for the wet part of the tour. Honestly, they were right on the money. As we zipped in close to the falls, torrents of water were raining down. At times I couldn't see anything other than water raining down on my face. It was awesome! Once we were away from the spray, we all clapped and cheered and were rewarded with the same treatment at the other set of falls. It is difficult to see in the pictures just how much water was coming down on us, but let me tell you, it was intense in an adventurous, fun way. When we were done, I was soaked to the bone. Luckily my shoes and socks were in the plastic pouch, but my shirt, shorts, everything was as wet as if I had been swimming. I couldn't stop laughing and smiling. What an incredible afternoon.
My taxi driver picked me up and arranged plastic on
the seat for me. I came back to the hotel, had my wine on the hammock and then went for a swim in the infinity pool, but in my swim suit not my shirt and shorts. Dinner was at the hotel and was very nice. As I was enjoying my wine before dessert, I was approached by one of the other diners. It was the Australians that I talked with in the boat ride on the upper river. Talk about a small world. They invited me to join them for coffee and dessert. What a pleasant surprise. We chatted for at least an hour. It is always such a joy to talk with fellow travelers, and they are truly world travelers. I hope to be like them when I a bit older. I hope you have enjoyed this, and that I was able to convey just how incredible today was. Ciao, B
There are more photos below