10/5 Monday: We had to choose between visiting the Brazilian side or the Argentinian side of the Iguacu Falls, and since the transfer for the Brazilian side left later, we opted for that one. We’d looked into getting there independently, but it was going to mean catching three buses – and for an extra A$10 we could go in chauffeur-driven style.
Getting across the border was easy, though getting into the complex was a little harder – we didn’t have Brazilian real and none of our credit cards could be used for various reasons. Luckily there was an ATM! The falls were absolutely incredible, so powerful and extensive. We went out under them and got totally soaked, it was great.
We also visited the bird park across the highway, where Ange got shat on and Craig got attacked by a toucan. There were heaps of interesting birds, it was well worth the entry price of about NZ$10. We ate in in the evening and watched a bit of 30 Rock before bed.
11/5 Tuesday: We decided to have a day off, or rather a work day. It was strange to not be doing anything exciting and we all felt a bit blah. At least we had guacamole in the evening!
12/5 Wednesday: Today we went to Argentininan side of the Iguacu Falls. It was a totally different experience from the Brazilian side – there were a lot more paths and viewing platforms, but there were also what seemed like thousands more tourists. The views were incredible, on the Devil’s Throat platform we were standing directly over one of the falls. We also went for a walk through the jungle to a much smaller waterfall, and on this walk we saw monkeys, a tarantula, and some of the birds we’d seen in the bird park on Monday. We went to a parilla for dinner and ate far far too much meat (yum) and finished it off with some ice-cream.
13/5 Thursday: We slept in until just before breakfast finished, then us girls left Craig behind to go for a walk. We went to Arepuca, which was basically a house made out of tree trunks and a whole bunch of souvenir shops – not very exciting but at least a destination for our walk. After lunch we went on a wifi hunt, and Janine and I walked to the river. Then it was time for another overnight bus.
14/5 Friday: The bus was supposed to drop us off ten blocks from the bus station, and I suppose it did – if each block was a kilometre long. The taxi driver waiting there charged us whatever he felt like (it seemed like a lot) but it was seven in the morning and we didn’t have another option. At the bus station we discovered that we’d been given more wrong information – buses to Montevideo left twice daily instead of hourly, and were more expensive and a longer than we’d been told. But we made it across the border with only the loss of our mandarins, and arriving in Montevideo three hours late wasn’t a problem either – our host Matias’s girlfriend had been delayed too and arrived just five minutes before us.
We had a great evening with Matias, Josefina, and Matias’s dad. They have the traditional South American outdoor barbecue, and we spent the night sitting around slowly making hamburgers and drinking excellent Uruguan wine. And most of the conversation was in Spanish – which always makes me happy.
15/5 Saturday: After a long sleep in and a lazy early afternoon, we headed out to a bar to watch a football game. The bar was filled with kids having birthday parties, who all cheered enthusiastically, which made for a great atmosphere. We ate pizza and drank beer – it was awesome. Afterwards, we hit the road to go to Matias’s family’s lake house, where we spent the rest of the weekend. We cooked dinner over the fire, drank wine and chatted until late.
16/5 Sunday: Craig feels like we’re finally in South America – we’re eating lots of meat, drinking a fair bit of wine, and sleeping until midday. We had a long slow breakfast that started at about 1pm and finished at three, and which was partly cooked over the fire. After that we were joined by Matias’s friend Sebo, and went for a drive to Punta del Este, where we tried a typical Uruguan snack made of pastry.
Matias, Josefina and Sebo cooked an awesome dinner of lentils and rice (not over the fire though) and we spent the eveing drinking fernet and playing yahtzee.