Three weeks in and already so many different experiences, many that don’t appear in the travel guides, a combination of good and bad luck, highs and lows. I should’ve known internet access would become intermittent the further from big cities I travelled, so that’s one reason I haven’t been updating as much as I’d’ve liked to. Another reason is that I have a Brazilian power chord for my laptop, and now I find myself in Argentina (at last).
I’ve been keeping an eye on wall sockets, and they’re as irregular as the exchange rate for dollars to pesos. This laptop experience has been a lot like life: You think you have it all figured out – three pronged, thin and straight as opposed to a peg – then BAM a socket I’ve not seen anywhere else. I will spare you the photographs of the wall sockets; this is my personal journey to finding an all-purpose solution. Please pray.
Had fun in Foz do Iguacu (16 and 17 January) or The Foz, as I and no one else calls it. By accident I ended up booking into the same hostel as three rad British girls I met in Sao Paulo. Familiar faces 17 hours outside that massive city were surprisingly comforting. We greeted each other as if we’d been friends for years.
I set up camp for the first time. It was the best two nights’ sleep I had yet had in South America. So glad I persisted and bought this puppy, she is going to serve me very well.
It was here that I finally became acquainted with South America’s unholy heat. Recourse? That first day in The Foz, after setting up camp and sweating buckets, I parked myself next to the lukewarm swimming pool and that’s where I stayed all day. Strategy: a half-hourly dip and ice cold Stol beer (not half-hourly, but you do have to drink them quickly because heat). Incidentally, also got my first sunburn that day, although I couldn’t have been tanning for more than 15 minutes. Let it be known, the sun and the heat and the rain (and the lightning, oh Lord the lightning) are very different beasts here.
The memory card incident
Doudou arrived a day after me and we went to Iguazu Falls. I took out my camera to start snapping. “No memory card.” That’s right folks, two cards, neither in the camera. I also didn’t bring my credit card because I didn’t want to overspend/lose it (oh, hahaha, life). Doudou spotted me R$100 and to my massive relief I found one at the park hotel. I should’ve known this would be the most expensive place to get one, but I was just so relieved to be able to take pictures. I also should’ve known that if I walked about 100m to my right, I would find the tourism kiosk where memory cards were half the price.
Nevertheless, how worth it are those pics of Iguazu.
Rodney was the staffer at Klein Hostel. What a cool dude! I peg him in his early 20s (I’ve stopped asking people’s age. You figure it out) and he was cheerful and funny and interested and informative and casual to the max. My favourite thing about him was the way he’d utter offbeat observations in passing. Even when he was speaking Portuguese, his wit and sarcasm shone through. One of so many amazing people I’ve met on the trip so far.
I dashed through the acclaimed Parque das Aves, the bird park next to Iguazu, on that same day. I was hungry and hot (calore!) so I’m not sure how much that affected my experience, but I didn’t love it. There’s something so sad and final about a bird in a cage. And the way I was brought up means I want to see that bird in flight after having waited and searched for it for hours. It just doesn’t feel right otherwise.
From the signs I could tell the park is hugely involved in bird rescue and conservation, and that’s the inevitable toss-up when it comes to zoos and bird parks. From personal experience, I know the staff at these places are animal lovers, not demented circus ringleaders. And this bird park was bigger than most. But the sky’s the limit for a wild vulture – seeing them totally motionless was weird and felt really unfair.
With the tourism noise at Iguazu and surrounds, there was no way I was going to see a bloody toucan in the wild. I visited a zoo by accident in Corrientes about a week later … But I think that was my final foray into that caged world.
Nevertheless, I got pictures of fuckin’ toucans, yo!
Agony in Argentina, coming up.