A Travellerspoint blog

Week Three

Iguacu Falls and a series of unexpected events in Buenos Aires

semi-overcast 15 °C

According to the original plan I should be writing to you from Montevideo right now. But I am in fact still in Buenos Aires, due to the slight mishap of having lost my passport. I´ll get round to explaining that shortly. Its all fine though. There are much worse places to be stranded, and I´ve had such a good time here the last few days that it sort of feels like Buenos Aires wasn´t quite ready to let me go. I´ll start with where I left off in the last entry, when I was just about to head off to see some very special waterfalls.

The Iguacu falls cross the border between Argentina and Brazil. I spent a day at each and was blown away. Í recommend seeing both. The Brazilian side gives you a more panoramic view whilst the Argentinian side gets you close up to the falls.

The Brazilian side



The Argentinian side


I spent over an hour at the top of the biggest fall, the Devils Throat, just standing and staring - the river roaring, spray rising up, big black birds circling in and out of the flume. Beautiful.

Following the bus ride back from the falls, which was around 18 hours long, I felt pretty travel sick and groggy for a couple of days. So in preparation for my trip to Montevideo I took it easy. Or at least that was the plan. On Sunday evening, which was supposed to be my last night in Buenos Aires, I went for a couple of drinks with Brian and my friend Torra. It wasn´t a hevy night and we just went to two bars and then got the taxi back. It was as I was walking to the door of my apartment that I felt in my pocket to make sure my passport was still there and got a nasty shock. I have no idea how it escaped. There´s a small chance it was stolen but to be honest there´s also a chance it just slipped out of my pocket somewhere. I should have had it somewhere more secure. In fact I shouldn´t have had it on me at all. But there you go. It was a sickening feeling. After a few hours of troubled sleep I went straight to the British Embassy. They were very helpful and it was a relatively painless procedure. I had to pay 600 pesos (about 110 pounds) to get a new one, which smarts but I can claim it back on insurance, and they say they´ll have it ready for me by tomorrow.

Finding myself with an extra couple of days in Buenos Aires, I used the internet at the embassy to locate a highly recommended hostel in the city centre, Estoril. I feel like I´ve really landed on my feet here. Its one of the the best hostels I´ve stayed in and I would strongly recommend it to anyone who comes here. Its kind of quiet and not really a party hostel, but its got a really nice laid back and friendly atmosphere. Í´m sharing a room with two lovely Aussies, Kirsty and John, and we´ve been hanging out quite a bit. I really love it here. In fact I´d go so far as to say this is the most consistently relaxed and happy I´ve felt since I arrived. I´m not saying I´m glad I lost my passport or anything, but there´s nothing like a run of good luck following a run of bad.

Yesterday I found myself missing my ukulele, so I went wandering down a road of something like forty guitar shops (seriously) in search of a cheap one. The thing is, they don´t really do ukuleles here (aside from my Myspace amigo Paul Maudit, who is awesome. http://myspace.com/paulmauditukeleleman ). Ukuleles are near impossible to find, even given the run of a ridiculous number of guitar shops. Instead they play the charango. The charango is the same size as a ukulele but with ten strings close together in pairs. So its like a cross between the uke and the mandolin. The tuning is very similar to ukulele (ukulele:GCEA, charango:GGCCEEAAEE) so its easy to pick up and play with. It originated in Bolivia, I think. I really loved it when i tried it and thought: Well, when in Rome...so now I have myself a lovely charango to accompany me on my travels. I can see it becoming very addictive. Brian saw one in Chile, the body of which was made from a hollowed out armadillo. So if you´re wondering what to do with your dead armadillos, there´s a project for you. Blue Peter eat your heart out. Or better still hollow your armadillo out.

Last night Kirsty´s Columbian friend Andreas took us to a Milonga (tango hall) for a lesson and some live tango and music. It pays to have a resident take you to places off the tourist track. I think it was called Catedral, which is appropriate somehow. It was absolutely stunning, with high ceilings and strange artwork and this gorgeous dark and smokey atmosphere. The wine and food was incredible too. We learnt a few steps and patterns, which was really tricky but great fun once you start to get the hang of it. After our lesson there was an advanced class that we watched as we ate, and then a tango band played. The whole night was beautiful. By the way, the must-know name in tango here is the singer Carlos Gardel. His image and his music are everywhere. He´s sort of like the Argentinian Elvis. He died in his thirties in a plane crash, so actually maybe Buddy Holly is the better comparison. Why does being a musician seem to greatly increase your chances of dying in a plane crash? In the case of Lynyrd Skynyrd I figure it was divine retribution for the ten minute guitar solo in Freebird, but for Buddy, Carlos, the Big Bopper and the others I struggle to explain.

I´ve just heard through Kirsty that a guy staying at a hostel nearby is offering a free bus ride to Lima in Peru. He drove it down to Buenos from Lima with a bunch of people and now he has to take it back. But there are only three passengers so far, two Aussies and an Irish girl, so he just wants to have a few more people on board for company. Should I? I definitely should. But can I? They´re leaving tomorrow morning at 9:30am. I don´t know if the office will have my passport ready by then. The embassy said it would be ready for tomorrow but advised not travelling till after midday. And then I just got this email from them saying they´re still waiting for an important response from a UK office regarding my application. What does that mean? They may not have my application ready tomorrow at all? I´m going to go down there 8:45 tomorrow morning and find out whats going on. Catching the bus to Lima and blagging my way on to an Inca Trail is looking like a long shot, but what if?


How´s that for a shameless cliffhanger? Hasta luego,

Mark x

Posted by MPemb 07:28 Archived in Argentina

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