Brazil and Buenos Aires

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South America » Brazil
December 7th 2007
Published: December 12th 2007
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Pantanal macawPantanal macawPantanal macaw

Again, hard to cull the macaw as they were the most exciting thing ever! Wild birds being patted (plus a few bites).
Buenos Aires - flying into Buenos Aires though was beautiful, huge city with lights on horizon nearly as far as you could see. And to say beautiful in the middle of a big thunder/electrical storm is a big call for me! Then to Ushuaia (update in Antarctica blog), awesome flying into there, snow capped mountains everywhere. Amongst the clouds I just hope we don’t crash into some - Andes are good for plane crashes. Took off from Ushuaia, scary again, first time ever I can remember not having the ‘this is how to wear your seatbelt talk’ and was having a little nap, ignoring all of the mountain peaks flying by and then opened my eyes an hour later ‘very’ close to the ground. Everyone around was looking a bit worried but after soiling the seat, we landed safely on an extra stop on the flight that wasn’t on my initial itinerary.
Back to Buenos Aires, first time here was just awake all night at the airport. Second time here is spending an extra few hours at the airport trying to find accommodation because my travel agent said I asked her to cancel the accommodation - an email that I must have slept walked to type and yahoo didn’t even save the sent copy for me! Anyway, got accommodation for tonight, then another expensive hotel for next 2 nights and then 3rd hotel for start of tour on 4th night. Exactly what I was trying to avoid, having to waste days changing hotels.
Finally, Buenos Aires itself seems quite nice. All the warnings make it sound like Johannesburg but seems quite safe. Is nice too with architecture that reminds me of San Francisco. One question though, how many McDonalds does Townsville have - 3, I am thinking. Anyway the point is, there are 3 McDonalds within 100m here. Walked around city a couple of days and was really nice, love the architecture. Got the news here that a ship was sinking in Antarctica, probably from hitting iceberg - glad I didn’t hear that before we were smashing through icebergs and Julios advise that the iceberg that sunk the titanic was probably smaller than ones we were seeing. Anyway am safe here now.
Forgot to mention, power points here are international, and Australian plug fits right in. Pretty cool. All hotels here and in Ushuaia have it.
Tango - went to
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The reflections here were the best I have seen bar none!
see a show which was pretty cool. Didn’t do lessons or have a dance but then you really don’t want to have to picture me all unco trying to dance the tango. Stop it! I told you not to imagine it!
Recoleta Area - went to see Evitas grave which was cool, the whole cemetery that is, not just the grave. Is like a little city.
La Boca/Caminita - went and checked out this chic area. Of course had to check out Boca Juniors Stadium, didn’t go through it, just outside and photos which was cool. They have stars of the team in the footpath like Kodak area in LA. Then found Caminita which is bright and colourful from Italian influence. Other than me liking pretty colours, just another chic area.
Soccer - football, to everyone other than us Aussies. Went to see Boca Juniors (away) play Arsenal. Nearly had to show passport to prove that we were not locals injecting ourselves into the Arsenal area which were the only seats available. Great game with great atmosphere and only 16,000 stadium. Would be awesome to see Boca at home with 80,000 or something, and they were the ones making all
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Plaza de Mayo area
the noise at this game, even though they lost 2-1. Then we were held up for ½ hour at the gates to get out while the Boca supporters were all police escorted to the train station. Then the train we were to catch was cancelled because the one in front had an accident. ????? Hopefully not soccer related. Asked reception in the morning and they didn’t know anything so hopefully nothing really bad.

Iguazzu - with tour, did both sides Brazil and Argentina. These are widest at 2.7km wide. Angel Falls highest, Niagra most volume, Victoria really nothing but spectacular. Anyway, 80% of these falls are Argentinian and 20% Brazilian.

Sao Paulo - well that was a non-event. Despite what Brazil consulate in Australia says, you can’t get a visa at the border. Nice airport - what more can I say. Actually, was nice flying in, but had a huge headache from my neck still. Luckily took a couple of tablets otherwise I wouldn’t’ve made it through the next 2 hours of rearranging flights and trying to plan a visa to get my next 2 week trip done! Means I will be getting into Santiago at half past midnight (plus the 6 hours time difference will be 6.30am at Joburg).
Have to say, South African Airways are great. The Captain often gets on and updates you with information, like the old birds on the runway, waiting to have them cleared, no hot water because the tanks have just been cleaned, coming into land - we have picked up interference can everyone check their phones please (cloudy day I am waiting to crash envisaging wrong height readings or something), we have 4 pax luggage loaded and they are missing so we are looking for their luggage to remove it (I am waiting to blow up on runway). Mind you, if the captain hadn’t given me this to think about I would’ve made up some other scary thought anyway.

Pantanal - was just one of those places on the tour, with a hope of a bit of outback. Well, that was until I got there. Took me back to childhood visits to outback Queensland stations only it is greener and 1 or 2 degrees cooler. They have a bell to ring for meals - makes me want to befriend the cook just to have to fight to ring the bell  (My sisters will get that.) Anyway, beautiful place with a little lake, swimming pool and rock climbing wall. Buuuttttttt…… Wild macaws that like to visit. Befriended some and could pat one while the other was biting me. Absolutely awesome!!! I was like a big kid again, grinning and majorly excited like at kid at a lolly shop. Then went for a horse ride with beautiful views over the countryside. Even the bit when the horse tripped onto his knees when I wasn’t holding on taking a photo was great. Horse ride next day we saw toucans flying, deer and greater rhea (ema). Had a drink of local tea under a shady mango tree in a deserted homestead. I know I am Aussie too but had my first go of lasso that I can remember and got it after a few goes. Then the rock wall and zip line. I am not a fan of heights but normally not this bad, legs shook like Elvis trying to climb wall and then in the 5 mins working up courage to drop the 6 inches of take up on the zip line they would’ve put Elvis to shame! Was great fun though. Then that night, went out towed by tractor Giant Anteater hunting. Saw one and luckily got a photo (which when I looked at it later couldn’t believe that is the hairy massive thing that I saw with my own eyes!) Then another beautiful sunset and rain bucketed down on us, saw foxes and another Anteater close but didn’t stop. Last day was Pantanal river safari, another awesome day. Saw heaps of birds and caimans and went swimming 10m after we saw one downstream and 30m from one upstream. Did diary at 6pm for end of day, then throw in a bit of caiman feeding, a good games night, table soccer, table tennis and snooker, then camping on the pier under the stars with the noises of the frogs. Thennnnnn, being woken at 6am by a macaw sitting about a metre away squawking, had to get up and milk the cows anyway and go for a ride and got the first gallop of my life! Leaving here was the first time I was homesick on the trip and it wasn’t for home!
Definitely one of those ‘am I dreaming’ moments. In the last month I have seen endangered mountain gorillas, whales 50m away, swimming with great white sharks, Moai on Easter Island, Antarctica, Buenos Aires, football, tango, Iguazzu falls, played with wild Macaw, saw Giant Anteaters, horse riding, rock climbing and zip line. And the bit from Antarctica on in just over a week.

Manaus/Amazon - well it had a lot to live up to after the Pantanal. Starting with two flights and more trouble checking in in Sao Paulo (now 3 times at airport), and getting to hotel at 4am in the morning it will want to be good. Nice 2 ½ hour cruise up the Rio Negro to our camp. Had to carry luggage about 150m across beach and then up 89 stairs to a basic hut with no fan and very hot, very very humid weather that is barely bearable. Was told later that owner saw a huge anaconda at base of stairs 2 weeks ago and is trying to catch it. Went fishing in a boat that needed permanent bailing and got poured on but saw dolphins and caught 7 piranha. Then went caiman hunting and guide caught one about 2 foot long with bare hands. Had a jungle walk in the morning seeing natural medicine trees, snakes, horned spiders, bird catching spiders, bush chooks with bright green eggs and a nice cold waterfall swim. Then caught a canoe back which required bailing again, when we saw a 3 toed sloth swimming so took him to land and I held him for a while. Very cute that wild animal showed no signs of aggression. Had a canoe tour through flooded forest which had awesome reflections from still water, got poured on again and visited village on way home but seemed deserted because everyone was in from rain. To leave was another 2 ½ hour boat ride, transfer, then on a plane for 10 hours doing 6 ups and downs on the mail run to Salvador. Cool to say I’ve been there but really wouldn’t recommend anyone else to bother.

Salvador - only had one day here and visited old city. Was nice view over sea and harbour but didn’t really catch my fancy. City of 3 million people so not my thing. Some of buildings were nice and was good to see a bit of Baiana girls and Capoeira dancing. People selling on streets were cool and only took one no to stop hassling you which was cool. Again, after long day to get here and only one day here didn’t get too engrossed. Had a great night there though, went out with our local guide and had a great prawn dish and beautiful steak then after a few failures, ended up drinking in a street bar with locals dancing in the street to car stereos.

Rio - first impression is great. Saw Christ Redeemer on way to hotel and drove by Copa Cabana Beach with locals playing soccer volleyball, beach soccer, just great activities and life at the beach. Did a visit to Christ and was cloudy but still ok. Then up Sugar Loaf mountain by cable car - have found out I am really scared out heights. Was extra beautiful when Chris was clouded all day and he finally shone through only for 2 minutes and looked like he was walking on clouds. For a big city it is awesome, plenty of trees and beautiful clean beaches and doesn’t have the overcrowded feeling and felt really safe the whole time as well. Homeless people here are well dressed and just look like the average drunk who didn’t make it home. Speaking of, ended up having a big night at restaurant drinking about 6 caipirinhas which is local drink of basically pure alcohol based on sugar cane. Had to check out Christ at night, first time was on dusk and not as spectacular as dark night, he looks like an aura floating about above Rio - pretty cool, mainly seen him walking on clouds or a suspended light. Anyway, apart from having a hotel booking go bad and nearly being homeless, I then nearly didn’t get out of Rio at 4am in the morning because my flight was cancelled. Got sorted and on my way to Panama.

Additional photos below
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Sao Paulo

Seeing as they wouldnt let me into Brazil firstly here, I ended up flying through airport 3 times so had to give you the view.
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Pantanal scenery

Pantanal horseriding Milton and landscape
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Pantanal Santa Ines Macaw

Oops sorry, another photo - had to be done!
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Pantanal Santa Ines capybura

The biggest rodent!

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