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Published: August 8th 2007
Nic Really Likes Dogs
This one lived in the bushes outside our hostel in Iguazu and he was blind... bless.
Right, everyone, I had this all updated, was just going to finish it up, but now suddenly the server informs me that it has lost my last 3 entries. Horrible! So now this update of the last three months will have to be even briefer, as I'm trying to finish it before I catch a train in 3 hours.
Around mid-April I went to the Comunided Río Azul, which I found using www.organicvolunteers.org (great website, by the way). I had no idea what to expect when I turned up and what I found was Alex, who is my age, from Indonesia by way of American parents. He and his brother and some friends have bought this incredibly beautiful piece of land just outside the town of EL Bolsón on the Río Azul. I say "just outside of town", but a few years ago the river washed out the road, meaning it seems a lot more remote than it is (1 hour steep walk to town, no city noise...), and also making it really difficult to get any materials in - meaning the land is littered with half-finished natural-construction houses. So now Alex is, for the most part, the only one out
They have a white house, too, only it's a pink house.
there, with rotating volunteers. We (myself and two other American kids, also around my age) were helping him finish up his house, get things set up for winter.
I can't say enough about my 5-6 weeks at this place... I felt incredibly blessed to be there, watching pink and purple sunsets on the snowy Andes while the neighbors' herd of horses runs by... drinking right out of the crystal clear glacial river... having to build a fire for any cooking or bathing... walking around in the silence under the stars.
When the weather really began insisting that it was too late for any more (essentially) outdoor living, Jeramy and I left together to hitchike north, with the idea of seeing Mendoza and Valparaiso before he had to be back in Buenos Aires in 1 week... he made it as far as Santiago (missed Valparaiso) before having to take off.
Mendoza is beautiful. This is wine country, and though the city is located in an arid region, there is an extensive irrigation system utilizing the melt water from the Andes to foster the sycamores (I think) that line every street. There's lots of plazas in the center, the people are sweet,
... is the traditional working class, Italian neighborhood in B.A. Apparently the houses were painted like that cuz they used to use left over paint from the ships
and it's really nice to just wander around.
After a few days there we went to Santiago, where we saw one interesting museum and climbed a hill to get a view of the city... but you could only see about 100m for the smog (it gets trapped between the ocean and the Andes, I guess... disgusting). Also, two guys tried to mug us, but did rather poorly, as their only weapon was a (intact) coke bottle... we just pushed them away, but it was still sort of alarming... I've Never been mugged before, and I've been in a lot of cities...
Anyway, like I mentioned above, Jeramy left Santiago to go back to Buenos Aires and then home, and I went to Valparaiso with Nic, Kat, and a few others... I would up travelling with these girls for a month.
Valparaiso reminds me of Naples, it's dirty and squat next to the ocean, twisting roads, busy, busy, loud... also really beautiful graffiti. We ate what is apparently the traditional dish here, which was a plate of fries covered in fried eggs, hot dog bits, cheese, other meaty bits, ketchup, mayo, and probably something else that I'm forgetting... my god, disgusting.
Lots of beer made it slightly more acceptable.
Then it was back to Mendoza for a few days, more wandering.
On to Córdoba, which I didn't really see much of... nice center area, one shitty night out at a club.
From there the rest of the group went on ahead and Nic and I followed them up to Iguazú Falls, some of the highest in the world...
So glad I didn't skip this, as I originally didn't have any intention of going there... the falls put Niagra to shame, and aside from the incredible size, they have walkways set up both underneath (very, very close, watching birds fly above your head, getting soaked by the spray), and above (even closer... you lean over the railing, you are leaning over the falls... seems very unsafe, but a once-in-a-lifetime experience, I'm sure). The two of us spent a week there, laying in the hammock, playing ping-pong, enjoying warmth!, for both of us for the first time in ages...
Then from there another overnight bus, this one to Buenos Aires. What a great city, indeed very "European" as everyone says. It reminded of Madrid, actually, with the 19th century building rubbing up against
Where the rich are buried. It's a black and white labyrinth.
the skyscrapers. Some great street fairs, one actually outside my front door every sunday.
And now I'm on my way back to Cusco, via La Paz, and then points north.
I don't know how much longer I can keep this up, people!
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