The other reason for the lack of blogging is the credit card incident.
Self-made caipirinhas flowed at Klein Hostel (sugar, lime, ice and a heavy dose of cachaça) and on Friday morning (18 January) Doudou and I left for Puerto Iguazu to cross the border to Argentinia. The journey, passport control included, couldn’t have lasted more than an hour. I have 90 days in Argentina.
This was a big day for me, as Argentina is the place that first called me when this whole thing began.
Let’s cut to the chase. I forgot my credit card in the ATM, and only realised this the next morning, a Saturday. This is not your average stupid. I was mildly relieved to learn that this had happened to another South African traveller and brilliant blogger Alison Westwood, but that didn’t change the fact: I was down to one bank account, doubling my chances of being entirely cashless. I called South Africa to block the card but had to wait till Monday to order a new one.
I went onto Virgin Money’s website to check out the procedure, they promised a 72-hour delivery time to “anywhere in the world”. Complete and utter bullshit. Virgin has been incredibly difficult to work with. On the Monday I made five phonecalls and every call centre agent gave me a different set of instructions. I am hugely unhappy with their client service and you know what I do when I’m unhappy with client service! Write a snotty letter in my finest scathing English.
As my dear Stephen Holt likes to say: “Banks: quick to take your money, not so quick to give it back.”
I just read through my journal entries from that weekend. Think Kurt Cobain circa 1994. The self-loathing was strong in this one. And the doubt, oh the doubt. I am not too big to admit that I considered coming home; an email to my mother suggested as much, but as she said – “Nobody died”. Never have I ever so desperately needed to speak to her, and to my friends, but I was also so low that I couldn’t even reach out. I had vivid idyllic dreams and loathed waking up. Every day was a different drama with Virgin, which ultimately means I didn’t even make it to the Argentinian side of Iguazu Falls. Listen, don’t lecture me, I had bad vibes there from the start (it’s all about the money) and I needed to get out. I have resolved to return to Puerto Iguazu at the end of the year to make peace with the place, now that I have distance and perspective.
It certainly ain’t all bad
Doudou and I found the street market where the locals are on Saturday nights and it was the moment I had been waiting for. Olives, oils, nuts, meats, cheeses, beers, empanadas. An Enrique Iglesias lookalike on guitar sang to backtracks under fairy lights. He stopped mid-track to track down the owners of a little lost boy. A spontaneous tango from lovers in the corner; pure, simple, exquisite. I was spellbound, as were they. Everything seemed quite fine that night.
I also took a stroll to the Hito Tres Fronteres (three borders obelisk) which was great for my legs and my lungs and my head. Watched a family – mom, dad, two teenagers and a little one – partake in the mate ritual that I had only heard and read about. When would I have my turn with this mystical liquid?
Regarding meeting new people
Obviously I’ve been meeting people left, far left, right, far right, and centre. It’s like going on a million first dates: exhausting.