Week two of our Intrepid trip went well, we’ve been mostly in Brazil but did a quick jaunt back to Argentina to see the Iguazu Falls from that side. The highlight of this week has certainly been our two days at the falls — they are just so amazing! Brazil so far is pretty incredible, actually. Pity about the two overnight bus trips, though.
Monday 5/9 I’m not the biggest fan of overnight buses, and this one did nothing to change my opinion of them. It was a little cold, I couldn’t find a comfortable way to lie, and the food was pretty much just bread. I did at least get some sleep, which shows that I’m learning how to deal with this travelling-on-overnight-buses thing — mostly I deal with it by not doing it, which works well for me.
After arriving in Puerto Iguazu, Argentina, we hopped in a minivan to cross the border to Brazil, and the rest of the people in our group headed to the Brazilian side of the Iguazu Falls in the late morning. Craig and I decided to stay behind to try to get some work done after finding some coffee to cure our fuzzyheadedness. Craig was feeling sick, so we spent more time relaxing than working, and never seemed to find time to record the podcast. In the evening we went out for dinner with Angie, Karen, Suzi, and Jennifer – who somehow managed to score us cheap caipirinhas.
Tuesday 6/9 Today, we hopped on an Urban Adventures day tour to visit the Argentinean side of the falls. The rest of our Intrepid group were there too, but not on the same tour as us — we ran into each other a couple of times though, which was pretty funny. We also saw Jack, another ex-Expanish student: I love that feeling of meeting people you know in unexpected places!
The falls were amazing, it’s such a huge volume of water! We walked along the Devil’s Throat walkway, which was apparently partially closed up until a couple of days ago due to flooding, then walked the upper and lower trails. The rest of our group (a Dutch family) was doing the boat trip, so we let ourselves be convinced to jump on as well. It was a fun experience, we got up close and personal with the water (the boat goes right up to the falls so you get completely soaked), but I’m not sure it’s worth the US$60 price tag.
On the way back to the hotel, we stopped at Hito Tres Fronteras to see the triple border, as well as at a market in Puerto Iguazu.
On the whole, visiting the falls as part of a tour was a good experience — we were picked up and dropped off at our hotel, had a couple of extra stops we couldn’t have done easily independently, and got to know more about the falls from a real local — our guide’s father was born within the park boundaries.
Wednesday 7/9 Clarice, our guide from yesterday, picked us up from the hotel relatively early to take us to the Brazilian side of the falls. The Brazilian side has less to do than the Argentinean side; there’s just one path along the river, but the views are fantastic — a full panorama of waterfalls. It was overcast and the cloud mixed with the spray of the waterfalls to almost hide them from our view for awhile, but luckily it cleared up. And we got to see monkeys!
In the afternoon we relaxed back at the hotel before heading to the bus station for another bus marathon. The first stage was an overnight bus (yay!) that left at around 7pm. It was quite a different experience than travelling on the Argentinean overnight bus, there was no movie and no food was provided. To make up for this, we made several quite long stops at roadhouses, where we could buy food and use the toilet.
Thursday 8/9 I woke up about half an hour before we arrived in Sao Paulo, where we got off the first bus and waited for about two hours for the next one. It was another five hours or so to Paraty, and the second bus was really comfortable. Unfortunately I was so tired when we arrived I could hardly function, so we had an early night after a pizza dinner.
Friday 9/9 We were feeling a lot more awake after a good night’s sleep, but I wasn’t keen to join the others on a trip to the beach — it would have meant another two hours in a bus, for one thing. We went out for breakfast and lunch, and I wandered the town around in the afternoon while Craig worked. It’s a lovely old Portuguese colonial town, and no motorised vehicles are allowed in the historical centre, so it’s kept a lot of its colonial feeling.
In the evening, Washington came to meet us, which was awesome! He was a student at my language school back in New Zealand (though not my student) and we’ve kept in touch through Facebook. It was so good to see him again. We went out for dinner and drinks and he taught us a bit of Portuguese, notably the word “pirata” (pirate) because there was a guy dressed as Captain Jack Sparrow wandering around near our restaurant.
Saturday 10/9 We spent our last morning in Paraty taking some extra photos and videos, then caught a bumpy local bus to Angra Dos Reis. From there we hopped on a ferry to Ilha Grande, where we have three nights. First order of business was ordering a few caipirinhas — Craig and I even bought one from a street stall (it was good).
Sunday 11/9 The wonderful thing about Ilha Grande is that there are no cars on the island, you can only get around by foot or by boat. We decided to hike over to the other side of the island, though we delayed our departure because it was raining when we woke up. The walk over took about two hours, with a steep uphill to start, and along the way we saw tiny monkeys! They were so cute. The beach was worth the walk, though the weather could have been better — there was no sunbathing going on. Everyone else caught a boat back, but we decided to return by foot — good exercise, right?
Next week, we’re planning on staying in Brazil. Our tour finishes on Wednesday in Rio de Janeiro, and we’ll couchsurf there for a couple of days then spend the weekend with Washington in his hometown. After that… we’re not sure.