Published: January 8th 2010January 8th 2010
Apparently I am a little bit naughty and Joe's writings are way outnumbering mine. So I thought I should sit down and tell my side of the Christmas story...
Early November sometime we suddenly realised that a familyless Christmas was looming and the only way to survive was to think up some exciting and exotic place to spend it. When we found a pretty hostel near the Iguazú falls in Argentina that had a ping pong table and we didn't have to search anymore. If we didn't have family around, at least we could have a game of our newly traditional Teeny Tiny Tenni Christmas Tourny (a very competitive game of ping pong!).
Getting to Puerto Iguazú was one of our longest overland travelling missions yet. Joe finished his last blog at the Salt Flats of Bolivia, which was perhaps some of the most otherworldly landscape I have even seen without having rocket shipped anywhere. From there we had to make our way to the tropical waterfalls. So without going into too much gruesome detail this is how we did it - a jeep through the salty desert to Uyuni, an overnight train to the Argentinean border, an on-foot border crossing, a bus to Salta and all in about 37 hours. We decided to have a break here. Salta was a culture contrast to Bolivia and our wallets... No more cliff-face and pot-holed roads and no more more hostel rooms at five pound a night. It was very pretty and we spent a couple of days wandering the clean tree lined streets, shopping for wonderful Christmas presents and warily watching a tango show both hoping we weren't going to be one of their next tourist victims dragged up on stage.
I was quite surprised at how much the Spanish accent changed as we crossed the border. We were getting quite good at deciphering the Bolivians with our few conversational words but an imaginary line turned Spanish into something else entirely and we were a bit confused for a few days.
When our backpacks were considerably heavier with things wrapped in Christmas paper we made the final leg to Iguazú, a quick 23 hour bus ride away.
Our Christmas hostel was much like a resort, the ping pong table was up and the swimming pool was so lovely and cold. Iguazú was hot! Tropical hot and muggy so for the next couple of days we made sure we were always in splashing distance of the pool, only leaving to Christmafy our little room. After a mad dash through the town we carried armfuls of odd Christmas bits back to our room and decorated til we felt all festive and jolly. In Argentina, as like in much of Europe, Christmas Eve is the main event and our hostel linked up with a couple of others to put of a very merry Christmas BBQ and Samba party. Joe and I did get merry with the rest and after BBQing we all ending up Samba dancing (well something that could in some obscure way resemble a bit of Samba hip wiggling) around the pool. I cleverly decided to take advantage of Joe's merry state to get the inside gossip on my Christmas presents but he is a tricky creature and managed to divert the topic of conversation by diving into the pool.
Christmas day finally arrived and I woke Joe up nice and early to open presents. I was quite impressed with my lot! I now know the time and smell quite delicious. Joe now has the instruments to make us lots of poker winnings and some New Zealand kayaking to look forward to.
The waterfalls on Christmas day were so impressive, the massive amounts of water make and incredibly loud roar and we decided to get a closer look. The jet boat ride promises to be refreshing and we hopped in to be zoomed up the river the right into the "jaws" of the Punta del Diablo (Devil's Throat)... the biggest waterfall of the lot. It certainly was refreshing and we were completely sopping wet! It was very cool to see the falls from both angles, the very bottom and then wandering through the National Park to the catwalk out over the top. Joe and I played a funny game he calls pooh sticks and involves throwing twigs of a bridge and seeing which is faster. This game is slightly hard to judge at one of the biggest waterfalls in the world. So off home to play the real game of the day, the Teeny Tiny Tenni Christmas Tourny! ... It was a skilled and nail biting set indeed but, in the end, it really doesn't matter who won.
We were hungry after such exertion and so we wandered down the road with our tennis elbows to find our Christmas dinner. A very Argentinean Christmas dinner affair it was, we went for the local custom and got the silliest sized steaks I have ever seen. I am not usually a steak fan and Joe only recently one (having been a vegetarian until June) but these were delicious and we gobbled up our dinner and thought about a family covered in snow on one side of the world and one in the sun on the other.
With lots of Champagne in our tums we bubbled off to bed full and happy and looking forward to second Christmas in New Zealand in February and my chance to claim the Teeny Tiny Tenni Christmas Tourny trophy (even though it really doesn't matter who wins...).