Archive for May, 2012

Mocona

Posted on May 31, 2012 by 7 Comments

When we were originally planning a route for my Mom’s 10-day visit, we had ruled out Mocona Falls. It was a bit out of the way, it is not visible if the river is high, and no one from the tourist board had gotten back to an email inquiring about the river-level (this lack of communication continues to be a problem with arranging anything in Argentina ahead of time).

But, someone told us not to miss it, and Mom said she liked waterfalls, so we made a last minute decision and drove the 8 hour detour (4 hours each way).  After a long search for a place to stay close by, we found a cabin in El Soberbio that would do. Good enough was about all we could say about it. Mom is not getting the deluxe tour. Jason and I slept in the bus.

It rained all night, but had stopped by the next morning. We drove another 75 km to the falls, crossing our fingers that the overcast day would not turn into a rainy one.

While the height of  Iguazu Falls is what makes it so impressive, Macona Falls is only about 20 meters high. It is located on the rivers that meet separating Argentina and Brazil. What makes it unique is that it flows laterally across the river, not across as most other waterfalls do. In fact, we were told it is the only waterfall that does so, but someone with a faster internet connection can check on that fact. Also, it flows for nearly 3 km, making it one of the longest in the world.

The best way to see these falls is by boat. So we hoped on a zodiac and made the ride up the river. It was really impressive.  Our hope for no rain turned into a waste of time, as the captain got us closer and closer to the falls, soaking each of us to the bone.  We had a great time.

Back on the road, we decided to put a few more miles behind us before calling it a day. We made it south to the Jesuit mission town on San Ignacio before just before sunset.

iguazu

Posted on May 30, 2012 by 8 Comments

My mom has wanted to see Iguazu Falls since before we left on this trip, so we were all very excited to pick her up at the airport. And, of course, she came bearing gifts… namely books for Bode.

We got to the falls, which I believe to be the most expensive park in Argentina at nearly $30 per person (plus parking!) and set out to see some cascadas. Bode was finally feeling better, but I was fighting a sore throat and complete exhaustion.  The inside of the park was well-manicured and pristine- complete with trams and many food kiosks. And, it was big.

First we set off on the Upper trail to see the falls from above. Nice view!

Then we hit the lower falls trail, which we cut short after seeing an amazing rainbow enhanced view.  We scouted out a few more miradors before going for the grand finale: The Devil’s Throat.

A train ride, and then a walk on a metal catwalk. One that you think will end right around the corner, but ends up going for 2 kilometers. We were all beat before this trail, but somehow mustered up a second wind. And at the end- Pow! You’re looking right at the falls, and down a vast circular drop off. Oh, and there’s another rainbow to top it off.

Sure, it was touristy, but well worth it. In fact, when we returned to our motel, we saw that Iguazu Falls was named one of the 7 natural wonders of the world (yeah, we know all these lists are a bit subjective, but the timing was stellar). Still, at least one world traveler was not impressed.

If you’ve seen one waterfall, you’ve seen them all. I’m going back to finish my book.

-Bode

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Filed Under: Argentina

Brazil to Paraguay

Posted on May 28, 2012 by 3 Comments

Yapeyu was a nice Jesuit mission town, but we we were on our own mission to get to the far north of Argentina to meet my mom. The last few days involved lots of driving, and during the night Bode developed a fever.

So we got up early and left him to sleep in the back of the bus. We took a few photos and then headed off. Our morning routine has really turned efficient since my Uruaguyan purchase of a purple suede thermos. Now, we can utilize the hot water machines at every gas station. Jason was skeptical, but we’ve made coffee, tea and Ramen without having to pull out the camp stove, so I’m sold.

We drove from the banks of the River Uruguay to the banks of the River Parana separating us from Paraguay. Orange groves and mate farms. Interesting for a while, but it was a long drive.  We ended up near Posados, camping at an ‘adventure resort’. Bode was still feverish and it was late, so we just enjoyed the view and the showers.

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Filed Under: Argentina

Back into Argentina… Last Time… Promise.

Posted on May 25, 2012 by 4 Comments

We crossed the Rio Uruguay and the border into Argentina near Concordia. Again, border formalities were simple. The Uruguay and Argentina aduanas share a desk and we were stamped out and in in 5 minutes.  The problem was across the street where we got our vehicle papers. Even though i handed over my papers when leaving Argentina on the boat from Buenos Aires, it didn’t seem that anyone ever entered the info into the computer.  So, the guys in the office were perplexed that our vehicle had never left their country, but here we were driving in from Uruguay. Like some of of our other hold ups with the Argentina aduana, after lots of head scratching, they ultimately just clicked the print button and gave us new papers. Problem solved.

We decided that Concordia wasn’t worth much time, so we loaded up on gas and food and headed north.  The first stop was in Chajari – another nice camp site and hot springs.  This one was basically a resort complex with fancy concrete pools and elaborate grounds. We took a dip and popped the top. Oddly, the place didn’t have hot showers, and we’re starting to realize that just soaking in hot springs isn’t going to cut it much longer.

The next day we made it farther north to the mission town of Yapeyu. It’s getting more and more rural and feeling a bit tropical too. This was a really quiet and relaxed place, where everyone waves when you drive by. It doesn’t matter if they are on a horse, on a tractor, sitting on their porch… they all wave. We like it.

We parked down by the river and popped the top under a big tree. Just in time to see the bats come out as we watched darkness fall on Brazil.

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Filed Under: Argentina, Uruguay

Dayman

Posted on May 21, 2012 by 6 Comments

I’ve read that Uruguay is South America’s smallest Spanish-speaking country. So we decided to drive most of it (south to north) in one day.

Rolling hills and farmland. John Deere dealerships.  We saw lots of cattle for 5 hours. Then, we got to the real gems of western Uruguay. Thermals!

It is no secret that Bode is a (Alameda-county) hot-tubber. Obviously, we hit the one with camping. Next door- the one with the giant hot water slide…well that one was closed until September. It did look cool though.

Besides 2 thermal pools, our campground had a few donkeys, sheep and 2 lambs. So, all in all, a great place to stay.

The best and weirdest thing about this town, was that everyone walked around in bathrobes (of course, with thermos and mate). It was funny at first, but then we all wanted bathrobes. They even wore them in restaurants.

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Filed Under: Uruguay

Lounging in Uruguay

Posted on May 18, 2012 by 4 Comments

Colonia is a great place to hang out and sip mate.

Super-relaxed. Lots of cafes and quiet streets to meander.

You’ll get bored quickly if you’re not skilled in the art of the chillax, but we managed to stick it out for 4 days. We originally had planned to make a loop around the country and check out the beaches and the interior, but we’ve got a few reasons to just get north.

Primarily, we’re out of season.  I’m sure the beaches are fine, and the weather is stellar crispy fall fresca… just not ideal for beach-bumming. And, we’ve got to get moving north to Iguazu in a week to meet Angela’s mom.  And, gas is $7.50 USD a gallon, so meandering is just a bit tougher on the wallet.  Two of those would be manageable, but put together all three and we’ve decided to just head north.

Still, if we were only going to visit one town, I think we picked the best place in Uruguay.  Before we left, we made sure to try a local delicacy – chivitio. Multiple steaks piled high with cheese and ham, then french fries and multiple eggs on top. They throw some greenery in there, but just dig down to the steaks…

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Filed Under: Uruguay

Exceptionally Pleasant Colonia

Posted on May 17, 2012 by 4 Comments

No one opened up the campsite the next day, so we parked the bus in one of the town’s plazas and spent much of the day enjoying Colonia.

It was charming and quaint – everything you see pictured here. It was the ideal place for us after hectic Buenos Aires. There are lots of visitors here – mostly day trippers from BA. The prices are high, and quoted in UR pesos, Argentina pesos and US dollars.

The town is an old Portuguese smuggling port established to interfere with shipping to Buenos Aires. It’s only 5 kilometers away by water.  Bode still seems enamored with old cannons and fort walls. Someone mentioned that it reminded them of St. Petersburg, Florida, and I can see that. Except everyone here is drinking mate. All day.

 

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Filed Under: Uruguay

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