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Published: October 6th 2013
We arrived in Argentina with a dilemma. We ran out of time travelling through Asia and were mindful of this when planning on our itinerary for the South American leg of this trip. We wanted to create a relaxed pace, stay in places for as long or as little time as we felt we needed to, and for the most part, we managed to stick to this. The only problem was that by the time we arrived at Argentina we had run out of time! We had just under two weeks to get ourselves from Salta to Buenos Aires and we were hoping to get to Mendoza and Iguazu Falls as well. It became apparent that something had to go. There was really no decision to be made – to visit wine country when we had dedicated nearly a week later in our trip to stay at a vineyard in Italy or to visit to one of the most incredible natural wonders in the world. I am still mourning the wine enough to mention it here two weeks later however I know we made the correct decision (my only regret was leaving my camera at the hostel and only taking our
little point and shoot because I was concerned about all the water)
Even though I was excited about visiting Iguazu Falls, I had prepared myself for a little bit of disappointment as, due to the aforementioned time issues and some annoying Brazilian visa restraints, we were only going to be able to see the Argentinean side of the falls and as such I was feeling like I would only receive half the experience. With a map in hand we began to explore the array of trails that snake through the forest giving you different views of the falls. The moment I caught a glimpse of the mighty falls I felt that oh so familiar sense of overwhelming wonder and awe that has followed me around all trip. A blanket of white water gushed over the edge of cliff with such ferocity I was sure that each drop was a heartbroken lover that had decided it was no longer meant for this world and was flinging itself to its death below. The white wall of falling lovers was broken by rocks and trees creating layers of green, black and brown within the water which, once it hit the river below
is thrown back into the air in a heavy mist that desperately tries to escape into the wind.
We took a boat ride to the bottom of the fall where the water hits the river. You can’t see how long they are from this angle but you get a sense of just how much water is flowing from the river above. Luckily for us, we arrived a little early and saw the people who finished before us and got a sense of how wet the ride would be. After evaluating the situation we decided to remove our jackets, shoes and Mark managed to do a sneaky change into a pair of shorts - we were relying heavily on our rain ponchos for protection. The first couple of times we approached the fall we received a fairly decent splashing, enough for Mark to start fretting about his camera. Our final approach, the driver of the boat held us under the falls for what felt like an eternity. Heavy water was gushing down upon us and for a moment I wondered if I had been tossed from the boat and captured by the river. Of course this didn’t happen and when
I realised that I was safely sitting on the boat I squealed with laughter and laughed even harder at the teenager sitting across from us who did not have a poncho at all.
At the Garganta del Diablo (Devil’s Throat) is where it is the most ferocious. The river is angry as it rages over the edge into the abyss below. Standing there with a deep respect for this place, I am transfixed by the power the river holds and, as I begin to contemplate what would happen to any living creature if they dared to sneak a peek inside the beast, a black bird rose out of the mist. It paused for a moment, suspended in the air, wings urgently flapping trying break free from the tight grip of air until finally, it pulled away and triumphantly glided into the distance. I’ve never been to any of the great waterfalls, such as Niagara or Victoria, but I can’t imagine there is a more beautiful place on this planet than Iguazu Falls.
For the most part, driving through Argentina is very similar to driving through parts of Australia. What we saw in the north was a lot of
flat farming land and the landscape around Iguazu was lush and similar to the central coast. Even when we were driving into Buenos Aires it reminded me of driving into Melbourne with its flat highway and industrial buildings. However Buenos Aires, with street after street of beautiful colonial buildings, looks and feels much more European than Australian. The city is pretty, vibrant, full of cafes, restaurants and men yelling ‘cambio’! You see, in Argentina there is a black market for buying and selling US dollars due to the fact that it is illegal to purchase US dollars there. We were alerted to this fact prior to our arrival in Argentina and told to bring in US dollars because you can get a much better exchange rate on the street (as long as you are mindful of counterfeit Argentinean notes), but the words illegal and South America scared us off (rightfully so I think!) and we decided to ignore the advice given. Hindsight is wonderful and if we had taken US dollars in we would have been able to get some pretty decent discounts without having to swap the money on the black market. Oh well, you live and you learn.
When travelling to Buenos Aires we met a South African traveller, Ryan, who had been on the road for nearly twelve months. Ryan had spent most of that time travelling through Central and South America and told us of his experience through the salt flats in Bolivia and Iguazu falls. He told us of how he had been travelling so long that he had become numb to these experiences and hadn’t found either of those places all that impressive. For someone who found both those places very impressive I had to wonder about what he was saying. Can you be desensitised to beauty? Can you have seen so many amazing places that it makes the next less so? I am constantly amazed at how incredible this world that we are so fortunate to exist in is. I sincerely hope that never changes.
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