Really looking forward to visiting the Iguazú Falls we get onto the bus from Buenos Aires to Puerto Iguazú. Travelling up is not done in a blink of an eye, and ahead is the longest bus-journey so far on our adventures. It’s a 19 hour trip travelling in a very comfy bus where we get waited upon all through the journey with food and drinks included – we even get offered whiskey and champagne and why we thanked no to it is beyond me in hindsight – we were probably too surprised by the offer to think straight. The time goes by very fast and we’re able to get a pretty good sleep during the night. We arrive in Puerto Iguazú just before one in the afternoon and have only a 100 meters walk over to the hotel we’d booked the evening before. The room is quite nice with ample space, a TV, hot shower and very importantly it’s clean. As we’re desperately trying to catch up on our blogging we find the lack of a proper internet connection a little bit disappointing – the signal doesn’t travel to our room so we piggy-back on a neighbour’s open, but sketchy, connection.
After freshening up we head out to try to find some food. We’re both a bit wary of the massive portion sizes we’ve been served so far in Argentina and want to get something light – not tonnes of cheese over a mammoth piece of meat served with bucket-loads of fries. We’d hoped for some vegetables and maybe some rice instead of fries but we’re not in much luck. It’s Sunday and early afternoon (siesta) so the choices we have are a bit limited to say the least. Steak and chips it is…
After our lunch we fancy an ice cream – it’s very hot and humid here so we’re longing for a bit of cooling down. Just across the road there is a heladería (ice cream shop) that looks very busy – our thought is that if it’s popular with the locals it must be good. We go in and have a look at the menu, decide on our preference before I patiently join the queue. As it finally becomes my turn the lady at the counter just look up at me, pauses for a second and then start to address someone behind me in the queue. A bit dumbfounded I wait it out till she’s finished serving the other customer and expect to be served next, but no such luck… when she finally finish with the customer she just turn and starts chatting with some other customers who just came through the door. I start trying to get her and all the other staff’s attention but they’re all ignoring me, even the ones that doesn’t have anything to do. How Fu*#@ng rude – I’m positively fuming and utter quite loudly “this is ridiculous, I’m leaving” and turn to Hannah, before stumping out of the place.
Further down the road we find another cafe that sells ice cream – it’s cheaper and we get served straight away, so at least we get something positive out of the ordeal. This episode really put me on an edge though and I start to realise that generally how we get treated here by people is not really nice, and we’re paying through the nose for the pleasure – tourists don’t seem to be very welcomed here. One thing after another puts me more and more on edge and I become more and more resentful of this town – the thing that holds me together and stop me from shouting at people is that I’m looking forward to get to see the Iguazú Falls in the morning. There are a few places where people are really nice to us though – it’s not like everybody in the town is evil. The people in our hotel are really nice despite us having slight communication problems – they are very patient with us. Also, we find a really nice little restaurant on our last day before heading off so that made up for some of the aggravation.
The plan is to go to the falls the next morning before taking an evening bus to Rio De Janeiro. We check with the tourist information about how to get there, and the cost of it. We’re in shock of how expensive it is, and it kind of looks more like a Disney World theme park the way the area is explained to us – the information office offers to book us an additional boat trip to get really close up to the massive 80 meter tall wall of water and initially I think that doesn’t sound too bad price-wise (although not cheap either) but then we learn that it doesn’t include the transport there and the entrance fee. After quickly adding up the real price of this “offer” and recovering from the shock we politely say we’ll have to think about it. We decide to just make our own way there and skip the boat-ride as we’re not made of money – it’ll still be expensive enough.
On our last day in Puerto Iguazú we get up early to head over to the falls. But when we wake we discover it’s torrential rain outside – it’s so loud we’re wondering if the falls have been moved over the town during the night. It’s still very early in the morning so I set my alarm to a couple of hours later in the hope it will have cleared up by then. Two hours later and we wake to the sound of… torrential rain. We thought it was loud when we woke up earlier but it’s now even louder – unbelievable. We get up and go to get our breakfast – as we go to the breakfast area there is a little dry-spell and I again get the hope back that it’ll start to brighten up. Only a few minutes later and it’s tipping down again and for every time we think that the downpour can’t get any heavier it does exactly that – I’ve never experienced such rain before, and there seem to be no end to it. Hannah decides quite early on that she’d rather not go but I thought I’d wait it out a bit to see if the weather would improve. With the clock ticking and the rain continuing to pour down I also finally decide it’s a lost cause – I’m not paying a fortune to be completely drenched in a Disneyland-like theme park with visibility of only a few meters – for then to hop onto the bus to Rio looking like I just jumped into the falls for the ultimate experience.
If we thought the bus journey up to Iguazú falls was a long one, next we were in for a much more testing ordeal as we make our way up to Rio de Janeiro. This journey is supposed to take 22 hours, but as we need to get over to the bus station on the Brazilian side of the border first, we have to leave in good time from the Argentinean side. The whole journey is supposed to take about 24 hours and on the Brazilian busses there is no luxury like on the Argentinean busses – more basic seats and no serving of food or drinks, just free water (we stop every now and then though so people can get some food of course). And then, with our luck the bus journey takes a few extra hours due to very heavy rain during the night, and then again the next evening as we’re approaching our final destination. In the end the whole ordeal takes about 28 hours, so surprisingly enough we’re slightly tired by the time we reach our hotel on Copacabana in Rio. Almost instantly after arrival though we start to feel the effect of this electrifying city – we’re feeling the energy surging back into our tired bodies and start planning the next day’s adventure over a magnificent all-you-can-eat grilled meat buffet.