Well after Buenos Aires, Beth and I headed to our next country. URUGUAY
Uruguay, yea where the heck is that??? Well in between Argentina and Brasil, you find this little drop of a country where things are priced like the states and the country as a whole has the bigest addiction I´ve ever seen, maté. If you don´t know what maté is, i will try and explain it to you, but you gotta see it. It is a hot tea drink that they make here and drink here. They also drink it out of a hollowed-out gourd and drink it with a decorated straw. People have it here at the park, at the beach, on the bus and EVERYWHERE in between. It is not just one of two people, it is literally everybody in the country. They drink it all day and night. This is also an addiciton of fellow countries, Argentina, Chile, and Paraguay, but Uruguay takes it to a NEW level.
Beth and I spent a couple of days in the developed, Miami-like, beach town of Punta del Este. A popular beach resort for wealthy Uruguayans and Argentinians. It was a little too developed for us, because things were priced in American dollars and you see Fendi and Dolce & Gabana stores. SO we decided to make our way to the anti- Punta del Este beach, Punta del Diable (Devil´s Point).
Devil´s Point is further east on the coast but has a much smaller town feeling and beautiful beaches.Said to be one of the better in South America (after Brasil and all...) but it is all personal preference. After being chased by the biggest lightning storm I´ve seen, we arrived at night and used the lightning to light our way to Casa blanca. There we rented our own room, two beds, kitchen, baño, T.v., and patio with beach view for 12.00/night each. We spent this week as a detoxication of the big city....spent it mostly anti-socially, with the exception of the Casa blanca owner, store-guy, and our Buenos Aires new found friend David.
The days we spent cooking and watching the 2 English channels that came in. I caught up on many of the movies that have come out, so i´m not TOO far behind the times (Including Blades of Glory and the Simpsons movie....really important historical deep movies) We also spent our days lounging on the beach and reading 100 years of Solitude and A long way gone (story of Sierra leone child soldier) The beach looked like something out of Martha´s Garden, rolling grassy dune hills, cottages, woods in the back, and little art places and stores. It was the most relaxing week, not to mention I hadn´t been out of the mountains since the beginning of the year. It was a breath of fresh air.
From Punta del Diablo, we made our way, by boat back to Argentina. Rosario, Argentina, the birthplace of the famed, Ché Guevara. Other sites included the Flag Monument, dedicated to the Argentina flag and the fact that it was the first flag in South America to be raised for an independent country. They are proud, it was a Washington monument look alike. In Rosario, which is up river from Buenos Aires is in the area where the Atlantic Ocean last reaches. More of a river, the ocean creates a series of islands. One day we traveled out to Deja vú and laid on the beach all day in the baking hot sun and continued reading. Now this is probably what everybody at home thinks I do ALL the time, but your quite wrong. This was like a vacation from my travels. (believe you me, it is sometimes needed)
From Rosario, accompanied by David, we made the 22 hour bus ride to Puerto Iguazú. In Argentina, 22 hours is nothing on a bus, it is more relaxing than troublesome. We arrived midday and realized we were in the Amazon, so were pleased when we found the ¨greatest deal¨ I´ve had on a hostal yet, which included a pool and ¨super¨ breakfast (when you get anything more than bread, butter, and jam, I consider it a super breakfast...can´t wait for pancakes and eggs benedict when i get home!). The next day we hoped on the minibus to head to the Argentina side of the famed IGUAZÚ FALLS. I will say right away that this is one of the most amazing things I´ve ever seen. Pictures, movies, even description doesn´t do justice to Iguazú Falls, a must-see-to-believe place. We spent the whole day, 6 hours, walking and exploring the jungle and falls of the Argentinian side, which provided an up close and personal look at Garganta del Diablo (Devil´s throat) and many other falls. This is the Grand Canyon of Waterfalls. There was plenty of wildlife and scenery to blow your mind, not to mention water falling from the sky or blowing up for the heated rocky part below, where the most water i´ve ever seen falling at once pounded rocks. We also watched boats attempt and prevail to go under some of the smaller falls and soak all the screaming excited tourists on board. Within a day, it was impossible not to find a scene that would stick in your head for the rest of your life.
I didn´t take this picture, but it captures a SMALL portion of Iguazú Falls.
The next day we spent the day exploring the more panoramic Brazilian side, where at one point you could see the whole set of falls. If you´ve never looked into it, you wouldn´t know that the visa for Americans to enter Brasil costs 135.00 flat. But Brazilian side was a must see according to other travelers, so we sneaked across the border for a day and axplored the constant views of the amazing falls. (pictures to be seen when i get home in May) Iguazú Falls was an incredible magical place that I would recommend not only to waterfalls, jungle lovers, but to ANYBODY.