Buenos Aires, Iguazu Waterfalls and Santiago

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December 8th 2019
Published: February 22nd 2020
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Dear Friends and Family,

After travelling 28 hours from door to door, Ann, Riley and I arrive in Buenos Aires, Argentina. We stopped in Toronto to change planes and then in Santiago just to walk in a big circle and get back on the same plane. We used Uber to get from the airport to the Airbnb and found it to be really reliable and cheap to get around in Argentina and later Chile. We were staying in the Palermo district that boasts lots of coffee shops, restaurants and grocery shops.

For my birthday, we did a big walking tour of Buenos Aires. We started in the Caminito at the colourful buildings and market stalls. We walked north to La Bombonera (home to the Boca Juniors), the playground at the Parque Flora Native, San Telmo, Plaza Dorrego, Peurto Madero, the University of Buenos Aires, Casa Rosada (the presidential palace) and Plaza de Mayo. We stopped for an early dinner at the Temple Craft Madero. After more playground time, we walked through the main pedestrian shopping street up to Plaza General San Martin. We caught the train back to Palermo.

The next day we walked to Plaza Italia and the fantastic Ecoparque. While only partly open and still transforming from a zoo into the ecoparque, the parts that were open were really amazing. Wild animals could roam around the paths and ponds, not bothered by the onlookers. We saw tapir, llama, emus, peacocks, hares, iguanas and capybara. We visited the rose garden and bridges that I had visited back in 2006. We also saw a Japanese garden and Riley had a lollipop to cheer him up.

I took my leave the next couple days and headed south to Tierra del Fuego while Ann and Riley enjoyed the city. I will include those adventures in my next blog.

When I arrived back, we caught an airplane up to Puerto Iguacu and met Jugo (Hugo), who as our taxi driver for the next couple days. He took us straight to the National Park and we had a half day to hike the green trail and get our fist look at the waterfalls. We also saw lots of lizards, iguana, coati and cicada. We stopped to watch a family of monkeys playing in the trees. There was lots of wildlife on the upper trail including dragonflies, pelicans, spiders, fish and cormorants. We were also lucky to see a deer at the end of the day as the tourist hoards had reduced. Hugo took us to our Hotel Las Cabanas in Puerto Iguacu. We still had time to walk to the spot where three countries meet – Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay - The Triple Frontier. There were lots of shops and stalls – a lot more than I remember from my previous trip.

Riley and I went for a swim the next morning, then Jugo took us back to the waterfalls. It was half price the second day. We took the green trail again and got to see a crocodile next to the path. We took the little train and hiked out on a long boardwalk to the Devil’s Throat – this is the largest and most dramatic of the waterfalls. Next, we headed to the lower path, where we saw many smaller waterfalls before we came to the viewpoints for the larger falls. Unfortunately, they had closed of the path to the boat launch and the island. We had lunch and ice creams along the way. We saw the monkey family again and watched coati steal food from the tourists. Riley got some wooden animals in the market and gave some money to the children’s band. Jugo took us back to the hotel and we had another swim. We found a restaurant near the Tres Frontiers and had a sunset view for dinner.

On our third day, Jugo took us to the Brazilian border to go see the other side of the falls. No problem at the customs. A lot easier for Canadians than it used to be. There is a huge tourist center on the Brazilian side and buses that take you to the walkways. We saw more coati, lizards, birds and iguana. We got caught in a down pour that soaked us even through our rain gear. We took turns going out into the rain to get photos. We were damp for the rest of the day, but all our important tings stayed dry. Jugo picked us up and took us back across the border and to the airport as we were due to fly out that evening. We went to the check in desk and asked to move up our flight. They were very accommodating and moved us from the 9pm to the 5pm flight. We rushed through security and thought our flight was boarding but turns out they had two 5pm flight to Buenos Aires boarding at the same gate.

The next day we said goodbye to Argentina and caught our flight to Santiago, Chile. Unfortunately, the Redbank ATM at Santiago Airport ate my debit card. We asked around and found out this was a regular thing, so I cancelled in right away. We used Uber again to get to our Airbnb in the Los Condes district. There had been a lot of rioting in Chile and we had switched hotel to be outside the centre of town (and trouble). The place was fine except the AC was a fan – so we were hot for the next couple days.

We took a metro to Baquedano station but found it was closed due to the riots, so we got off at the next stop. It was a real eye opener, especially for Riley, to see the amount of damage done during the riots. Electrical boxes destroyed, traffic lights smashed, store fronts with I-beams welded across to protect them, graffiti everywhere. There were still a handful of protesters during the daytime but there were also police everywhere, so we felt safe. It was sad to see they had destroyed their own community. After that we had an enjoyable day on St. Cristobal Hill. We took the funicular up, we got ice cream and looked at the view of the city. We took a cable car over to Victoria Tower, then to a playground at Parque del recuerdo. We met up with a friend at Barrio Bella for dinner and had a dip in the pool before bed.

For Saturday, we went to Bicentenario Parque and fed the birds, visited the playground and then went to a bar to watch the Manchester United game. When we went back to the pool at our apartment, we found that the sun had brought out dozens of people. Riley was the star attraction with his games in the pool. We enjoyed time with our friends and visited the Pueblito Los Dominicos market before we had to catch our flight back home. Due to delays, we ended up taking 25 hours from door to door, so we were relived to get back to our house.

Cheers, Richard

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