Destinations, South America

The Spartans, Iguazu Falls and a Parasite?

April 10, 2009 • By

Congratulations to MSU!!!!

The Spartans had an amazing season making it all the way to the championship game. I knew my team was in trouble when the announcers were frantically shouting, “falta falta” every two seconds and the game had just started. Watching the game in Spanish proved to be less painful when the final outcome produced a UNC victory. As with all the teams I support, I echo a common theme…there’s always next year. Go Cubbies!!!!

My friend Maria and I explored the historic parts of Buenos Aires and took in a tango show. There are many diverse neighborhoods in Buenos Aires. Puerto Madero, a port area filled with upscale restaurants and shops, sits on the river. It’s a bustling area with tourists and locals. The buildings are a deep red brick and many wealthy locals live in the condos above the commercialized zones. My favorite a neighborhood called La Boca is home to the tango. It’s known as an immigrant area and the neighborhood is much poorer than the rest of the city. There are numerous artists lining the streets and many of the homes are colored like crayola crayons in red, yellow and green. Maria and I walked through the shops and checked out the artwork, jewelry and of course the impromptu tango dancers. Somehow I just can’t imagine being successful at the tango.

Later, we tasted our way through an authentic Argentinean meal complete with a tango performance that had us realizing quickly we could dress the part but not actually play the part. The tango dancers stepped, twisted, and turned more or less like pretzels. I’m still trying to figure out how their long, lean legs go in and out of poses without being permanently tangled. I was inspired. Don’t worry Maria has it all on film.

Since Maria is visiting, I decided being a tourist was in tall order so off we went to Uruguay. An hour ferry ride from Buenos Aires, it’s the perfect day-tripper. We arrived in Colonia, Uruguay in the morning and got right to work shopping and sightseeing. Colonia is an adorable historic town covered with cobble-stoned streets, a lighthouse, Catholic Church and cute little restaurants and shops. The town is located on a peninsula where a very brown and muddy river, the widest in the world, surrounds its shores. Over the years, Colonia has been occupied by the Spanish and Portuguese accounting for the interesting mix of architecture. Today, there are approximately 25,000 locals living and working in Colonia. As tourists do, Maria and I walked the historic streets making a very special wish on matrimony road. (Come on cut me some slack the 7 loops I made in Egypt have yet to produce Mr. Right). Before we returned to Argentina, we took in an amazing sunset sipping Uruguayan wine. It was the perfect end to our adventure.

The last few days we spent touring Iguazu Falls–land of rivers, jungle(mosquitoes) and the butterfly. Similar to Victoria Falls in Zambia, the falls are a wonder of the world. The name Iguazu comes from the natives meaning big water. Discovered first in 1541 by the Spanish, the falls are located between Argentina and Brazil but are actually created by two rivers running through three countries Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay. The intersection occurs about 10 miles upstream.

There are three peaks or sources if you will that make up Iguazu. To find the falls is not easy as they are buried deep in the jungle. I’m sure many an explorer regretted his voyage downstream. With our guide Wilson, Maria and I walked through the jungle, traveled on a “green” train for 10 minutes then trekked on a metal bridge with the river below us for another 30 minutes. The region hasn’t seen much rain lately so the river’s levels are low but I wouldn’t want to see it during the rainy season. The river is mighty powerful.

Eventually, our walking paid off and we began to hear the thunderous roars of the falls. It’s a magnificent show. Here we watched two forks of the river pouring down a gorge. The sun was shinning and made for a beautiful backdrop. The gushing water made me dizzy. The pounding water came down with such force and rhythm, it was hypnotizing. Maria and I fought our way through the crowds for our glamour shots and then moved on to the next part of the falls.

The two other sections of the falls we visited are no less beautiful just a bit more spread out. The Chico Falls consists of seven lines of waterfalls along the U of the mountain. Within a short walk of these falls, there is a cascading waterfall, which sort of trips on various ledges before emptying out at the bottom of a pool. Combining all the falls, Iguazu resembles a Y. The top part of the Y representing the falls and the bottom the downstream river.

To top off our Iguazu experience, we boarded the Grand Adventurer, a combination of a raft and a speed boat. It was a great time blasting us through the currents and deluging us with water. The power of the falls hitting my head briefly was enough to satisfy my thirst for going over them in a barrel. Seeing fat, unshapely men unnecessarily dressed in speedos cured my desire to marry a European(at least anytime soon). Lots of positives came out of this experience. I think Maria would add she is thankful people in the US enjoy deodorant.

We managed to dry out pool side at our hotel where one should never underestimated the power of the sun even in winter. It’s hot here! Our ambitions high, we trekked to the source of the falls for sunset. It’s fun to say two rivers, three countries. Unfortunately, we caught the tail end of sunset. I guess it had something to do with the full moon.

I’m not sure if I’m sick or have a parasite but my tummy is not being kind. I’m beginning to think people in South Africa have stomachs of steal. How can I conquer Africa without any issues and now feel like there is a devil beating to get out of my abdomen? Thank you to Jack who became the nurse of the hour calling my health insurance and finding an Argentinean hospital.