Friday, June 28, 2013

The rest of Argentina

It would have been six weeks since my last blog entry and whilst this means that I could question my dedication and determination to blog this amazing continent, inevitably I find myself remincing. And mentally pinching myself. And not beating myself up for the pause in writing. For I have travelled five thousand miles since you last heard from me, met some more amazing and varied people and seen even more than I would normally see in a year.

After I left Cordoba, I headed back to my favourite city of Buenos Aires, having said goodbye to the geniunely brilliant and lovely family of the Novillos and having said goodbye to polo for a while. I worried my family sick when I got my dates mixed up and failed to meet my friend Tom in B.A who contacted my sister. Lack of internet was the reason for this and my mum told me, having been cool headed these past months, that she was worried sick and had googled Argentine bus crashes. Fortunately, the latter did not occur and I was soon back in the safe haven of Tom´s appartment and ready to meet one of my close friends from home, Livvy, at the aeropuerto, flying in from Madrid.

Meeting Livvy had been in the pipeline for a while but one or two of us at any time, thought it would never materalise. I have had hundreds of people back home flirt with the idea of coming to join me. And it didn´t seem real until I ran into the arms of Livvy at arrivals. I couldn´t wait to show her the country that had completely stolen my heart.

Liv is super organised...and I have gathered I am not. I think it shocked her that up until this point, I had never logged onto hostel world. (N.B- turning up in Iquique, San Pedro and Mendoza at wild times in the morning, trying to find a bed). We were both worried therefore about our ability to travel together. She also watches her bank balance like a hawk and I watch mine like a bored housewife- ie.  hardly ever. (N.B point 2- from the mess I am currently in, I have learnt from this).
We spent a few days in B.A- both of us having extreme fatigue, Livvys from travelling and mine a prolonged hangover from the parties of Cordoba. I think she liked B.A but was sorry that there was not enough time to show her Palermo in the light and some of the cool bars I had discovered.

We headed south and took the long 22 hr bus to Bariloche of Patagonia. What an absolutely beautiful landscape- it was not far off Wales in its bleakness (we had arrived before snow had come, therefore unfortunately, the skiing opportunites were off) and being a Cornish girl at heart, I found its expanse and its coldness facinating.  Frankily, it is in my plan to come back to Patagonia and do only Patagonia, you only need to google it to fall in love.
We booked an absolutely dire bus company- stay away from Crucero del Norte if you are passing by.
I had had such luck in South America and Argentina is thought to have the best buses but this was absolutely appalling. I was further appalled when I got to Bariloche I caught a fever. It was absolutely freezing at night but I slept in all my Peruvian jumpers only to wake up in a sauna. I felt very guilty for the amount of time I spent in bed but didn´t really want to suffer for months on end unless I found time to get over this bug. We only managed to do one excursion (a big shame in Patagonia) and set off to explore the lake district on bikes. Northern England boasts a lake district too, of Beatrix Potter fame among other things but she would have had a cardiac arrest had she seen Argentinas. Epically beautiful and just huge.

Iguazu falls
We headed back to B.A, spent a few nights with Tom, then took the 18 hr bus to Iguazu falls for Brazil. Getting to the rainforest and experiencing my first and soon to be not my last, sense of real humidity. Having advised Livvy not to take malaria pills with her at all, I was relieved to find that catching it in Iguazu is nearly unheard despite what Lonely Planet says. We met some other people at our hostel and did Iguazu (just the Argentine side) with them after a couple of days. The reason for not leaving Puerto Iguazu and heading out straight away was the tropical rainstorm...the day in between arriving and the falls was incredibly boring...the town has abolutely nothing going for it. I clocked we spent about three hrs a day in the petrol station cafe.We soon realised Puerto Iguazu did not need anything going for it.
Getting to Iguazu, experiencing the volume of water, the wildlife (like watching an aussie girl we were with getting her lunch pinched by coatimundi, the infamous Argentine racoon) and the rainbows over the falls, we forgot about any resentments we had, about Puerto Iguazu or perhaps everything.
Going to Garganta del Diablo (The Devils Throat) and seeing the rush and power of the water is something that does not even bear writing about, because perhaps writing about it, similiar to Machu picchu involuntarily degrads it. After five or six hrs, Liv and a new companion called Rakan, took a taxi across the border. It crossed my mind to buy a jam jar, empty it then fill it with Argentine dirt to take with me like I meant to do with Cornish sand before I left home. Both plans never came into being, and irregardless I felt my insides turn and pretty upset leaving Argentina. Brazil had to have enough to live up to.

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