Thursday, June 28, 2007

Carlos Paz

The lake is not healthy

Continuing our tour of the cold backcountry of Argentina, we journeyed onto Carlos Paz, a town with an outstanding collection of retro styley hotels. The town is set on a lake, which meant I finally got to go paddleboating (a long held desire that became a merciless, bizarre nautical lust after I was foiled multiple times down south). Hotel architecture admired and lake paddleboated (never want to paddleboat again. Why did I think it would be fun? Uncanny resemblance to exercise), we were done with Carlos Paz.

Lake monster

Monday, June 25, 2007

Capilla del Monte

Welcome to Capilla del Monte

Much to the dismay of our Hostelling International host, we chose top forgo any of the excursions that cost money, and instead climb a mountain in a nearby town. We caught a bus over to Capilla del Monte, then a taxi to the base of the walk, and then through a confused conversation with a mumbling park ranger found out that the mountain was not climbable today, due to the bitter cold. Instead, we explored a riverbed and watched a cat try and catch an eel in a pond. Exciting times up here.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

La Cumbre

The next day we escaped Cordoba and arrived in La Cumbre, a quiet, cold little village in the mountains. We climbed a hill to look at a Christo and the town itself. That night we ate a fantastic meal at one of the rare restaurants in Argentina that does not conform to the seemingly state-enforced menu of steak, hamburgers, pizza or multitudes of ham/cheese combinations. The place we went to served dishes if not from, then inspired by, places around the world. Well, India and Mexico at least. I ordered a curry, muy picante (very hot). The dish I got was wonderfully smooth and sweet, the Argentine version of hot. Angie had a Mexican dish that really was spectacular, although again, devoid of any real heat. The entrée of samosas was also lacking heat- the middles were still frozen when they arrived. Both times.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Parque Nacional Quebrada del Condorita

9km through a shimmering yellow and grey landscape

and we saw the condors.

Ice shards on a frozen pond.

9km back to the road,the temperature stayed in the single digits all day.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Resistencia Sculpture City

Putting the right accent on the right syllables in the name of this town is one of the hardest feats of word gymnastics I've attempted. Even after asking for tickets at twenty ticket offices I still can't say it like the locals, and end up stumbling around the first few syllables until someone steps in and says it for me.

Anyway, we reached it via and overnight bus. Sleep was rudely interrupted by one of the random ID checks the police are so fond of here, and again later by another policeman demanding to search my backpack. We arrived, wandered and checked into the fabulous Hotel Colon, right in the heart of Resistencia. Ooooh, another hotel, and this one had a bath! Luxury unsurpassed.

Resistencia is not equipped to deal with tourists, the Information offices are hidden away and maps are hard to come by. The main tourist attraction is the collection of 400 or so decomposing and graffitied sculptures sprinkled about the city. Some had fallen over, and nearly all had the information plaques removed. A couple even had the sculptures removed, and were just bases crouching apologetically displaying some broken concrete and twisted reinforcement steel.

We got out of dodge via a taxi to the bus terminal. The taxi driver was loud, erratic, extremely impatient and disturbingly, kept crossing himself and stroking a piece of red ribbon hanging from the mirror for the entire, seat gripping ride. The bus was a much more sedate affair, and we slept soundly though the night and onwards.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Iguazu Scraps

Angie, me and Dennis

It's pretty obvious that the sole reason for the existence of Iguazu town is that magnificent water feature down the road. Nevertheless, we stayed on a few days to take advantage of the sun and the hostels own water feature (the pool). 'Highlights' included a walk, first through a vicious hangover, then to Tres Fronteras- a lookout over the river towards Brazil and Paraguay. On the way Angie was viciously attacked by four wasps, resulting in some nasty swelling and plenty of sympathy from Dennis and me.

Good Ol' Argentina in the foreground, Paraguay, land of eyelash implants on the left and Brazil with all its fabulous breakfasts and credit card fraud on the right.

Later that day, beneath a walkway in the bus station, Angie found a cardboard box containing three freshly baked black puppies. She had an excited cuddle of one of the lethargic little balls and then tucked him back in the box with his siblings. We went off to buy a bus ticket, after which Angie cold not resist another cuddle. It was this time that mum showed up, and proceeded to threaten Angie and corner her in a dead end.

All's well

"You can't eat my puppies!"

"I don't want to eat your puppies!"


Friday, June 15, 2007

Iguazu Animals

Critters observed at Iguazu...


birds of prey,

toucans, parrots and leopards,

more butterflies,

school excursions,

nervous rodents,

and a lion.

Iguazu Photos

Iguazu Falls

After a disgustingly early alarm (7am!) we caught a taxi to the Iguazu Parques Nacional, home of the fabulous falls. On the way our taxi driver gave us a short presentation on the falls, giving us the full rundown on where and wheno go, turning to face us and using both hands to demonstrate various paths and attractions on a flyer he had in the car. When we told him we were from Australia, he offered to smuggle us into Brazil the next day so we could see the falls from the other side (with my Australian passport, need an expensive visa for Brazil, Angie can come and go as she pleases). He assured us that he'd snuck Australians over before, and offered the koala swinging from the mirror as proof. Despite this, we declined.

Once inside the park, we navigated past tour operators, gift shops, cafes and market stallers and found our way to the jungle. The park is explored via a network of steel catwalks, so there's no chance of getting lost and even less chance of encountering large hungry cats. We did come across swarms of butterflies and packs of coati, but neither seemed interested in us.


The entire time we were inside the park, we could hear the low white noise of the falls. The first viewing platform:

The chunk of forest on the left is Brazil, and the falls next to it are Garganta del Diablo (Devils Throat). Isla San Martin is in the centre, with more falls on the right.

We spent the morning climbing up and down steps and catwalks gawking at the Western set of falls. We also jumped aboard a boat which took us right up to the impact zones of where all this water was coming down in such a hurry. The driver parked us right next two different sets of these continuous explosions, leaving us thoroughly soaked. The spray was so severe that we couldn't look in the direction of the water for more than a couple of seconds at a time.

Angie is the blue speck at the top

Me and some water

In the afternoon, after a pleasant train trip through the forest we arrived at the catwalk leading to Garganta del Diablo, the main attraction. We walked for about a kilometre over the river, heading towards a cloud of mist slowly pulsing out of the middle of the water. Once on the viewing platform, the sound of tonnes of crashing water drowned out any other noise.

The horseshoe shaped mouth of these falls is a white vortex that seems to be sucking endless amounts of water away into nothing. It is a void- there is nothing down there as far as the eye can tell- just white oblivion. Pure sound and the odd shimmer of shadow are the only clues that this liquid chasm might have a base. The white extends through the canyon and up into the sky, and everyone so often spray rises up out of the depths and covers everyone on the platform. You feel very, very small peering down over this unimaginable power into nothingness.

Scary stuff

More photos soon...

Thursday, June 14, 2007


El Gato Julio- not to be trusted

I've been battling some sort of cold/flu type infliction, which has kept me pretty quiet for the past week. Our hostel is inhabited by a bipolar cat who viciously attacked me with a lightning one-two and then wouldn't get off my bed. We've done lots of exciting things like walking around, shopping for socks and perhaps most thrilling of all, going under the drill at the dentist. It's not all beer and skittles here.

Angie takes advantage of the gratis abrazos (free hugs) on offer in San Telmo markets

So, in between maintenance we went to some art galleries, further explored the tremendous vegetarian opportunities, browsed markets and drank lots of coffee. Not much to write home about... dental ordeal over -time to leave- we head North to the sun.

To Iguazu....

15 hours after leaving Buenos Aires we stepped off the bus and into the glorious warmth of Iguazu. A taxi dropped us off at the hostel where we spent the afternoon getting our fluro white bodies reacquainted with UV rays.