Ok so I've got a lot to catch up on here...
http://picasaweb.google.com/rohrer.n/20081114Iguazu# (31 pics, all new)
http://picasaweb.google.com/rohrer.n (all other albums, no new pics)
New: VIDEOS! Ok...Video, singular. Uploading to youtube takes hours because it has to upload the entire file (6mb/second thanks to my high-res camera), then shrink it, so don't expect a lot of these. I will try to get a few more up soon though. This is on Day 1 of Ian & My trek in TDP. If you have decent internet, I recommend clicking the 'watch in high quality' link to the bottom right of the video.
So on only a few hours of sleep we headed off to the airport to catch our flight to Iguazu! The flight was over quickly, as I snoozed right through it, and after a short shuttle ride we arrived at our awesome, awesome hostel:
A converted casino, our hostel was more like a resort
We had more time to play with than most people do in the area, so we relaxed that whole afternoon and headed for the falls that evening to parttake in the 'full-moon tour' of the falls, which sounded like an awesome way to see the falls. We hurridly cooked up some dinner and then caught the shuttle to the falls by 8pm. Unfortunately, when we got there we found out the tour was cancelled due to overcast skies. We grumpily made our way back, but later realized it was for the best, as it thunderstormed for the rest of the night.
The next day on the way to the falls we met up with an Australian girl Alex who had been traveling on her own, so she joined us for the rest of the day touring the falls. I must say I really liked the organization of the boardwalks and tours of the falls. Although they clearly rip off tourists (60 pesos for us, versus 20 for ARG citizens), the place is clean, well kept, and is easy to navigate.
We bought a boat tour that everyone said was a must-do (but again, a rip off at 150 pesos for about 20 minutes of fun). It took us in a inflateable speedboat right up to the falls - the mist absolutely drenched us and the sound was overwhelming. Of course we couldn't actually go into the falls themselves, or else we would have been demolished. It was a fun ride nonetheless, and we spent the rest of the day covering just about every inch of the Argentine side of the falls.
That evening we again hurridly cooked up dinner and headed out for the full-moon tour. This time we met up with a former exxon-mobile contract negotiator (I withheld judgment...) named Jimmy who was actually a pretty cool guy. He was laid-back and also backpacking, but only for a couple weeks, as he had to get back to DC for work.
The falls were incredible to see at night - because we had the early-evening full-moon tour, we saw them just as the moon was rising, so the reflection of the moon across the river and falls was really spectacular. The pictures, of course, don't do it justice (it was night, after all), but being out at 'the devil's throat' with only moonlight was amazing.
Over the next couple days we spent more time doing side excursions: 1) to a nearby Christian mission/sanctuary that housed students that couldn't afford the hostel which was a neat place, and also had a path down to the Iguazu river that finally allowed us to see the jungle and river away from other tourists, 2)to Macuco falls, which is down a long path through the jungle near the other falls - highlights include swimming under the falls and seeing wild monkeys on the way there, and 3)to Guiraoga bird sanctuary, where hundreds of amazing exotic birds and animals are housed when they are injured. Our guide, Fernando, was born in Argentina but had served in the US military. He lived off of payments from the US government from when he was injured in the service, and now spends his time riding his motorcycle, being with his family, and volunteering at Guiraoga. He mentioned that Puerto Madryn was beautiful and that he wanted to move there, so Leon and I got excited for our upcoming trip there.
We caught a flight back on Saturday, and did not have much time to clean up the apartment for checkout on Sunday. This is not particularly blog-worthy, but we had a long frustrating argument with our landlord on the way out about the leg of our dining-room table that had fallen off a couple weeks beforehand. I don't blame them for thinking we had put excessive wear&tear on it (we are 3 guys just out of college, after all), but the fact was that we didn't do anything, it just fell off during dinner, and now they could rip us off for US$600 which is what they claimed the table was worth. We will see how this turns out in the days to come...
That evening, Leon and I caught our 18-hour bus ride to Puerto Madryn - to be continued in chapter 4! Will update it tomorrow (Sunday Nov 23). Comments questions and criticisms encouraged!
Hope you're ready for whales, seals, and penguins! lots of penguins...