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Puerta Iguazu, Argentina


Torrential rains greeted us on our arrival to this city, best known as home to one of the world's most beautiful waterfalls, Iguazu Falls.  After some missteps, flight postponements, and cancellations, it seemed that this was not going to be the fairy tale portion of the South American trip we were expecting.  After settling in, we shared a bottle of a mellow, flavorful Malbec, as we waited for the rains to subside.  Argentina is known for their red wines and grass fed beef, and the wine did not disappoint.

The following morning, we awoke to blue skies filled with puffy white clouds, perfection.  Staying at a B&B in Puerto Iguazu, we walked several blocks over the cobblestone streets to the downtown area to board a bus to Iguazu Falls National Park, founded in 1934.  About 30-minutes later, we were standing in line at the park entrance.  A system of small trains takes visitors to a central station, and then to the walkway leading to Devil's Throat.  This narrow, U-shaped portion of the falls is undoubtably the most spectacular, but we spent about 6 hours walking around the park, and were repeatedly blown away by the beauty.  The Iguazu River descends at approximately 275 spots along the Parana plateau, the exact number of falls is dependent on recent rainfall.

In addition to the falls, we were treated to an exotic variety of flora and fauna in the surrounding subtropical jungle.  Most prevalent is the coati, a raccoon-like animal, with hundreds of the critters sighted as we moved through the park.  As aggressive beggars at the outdoor restaurants, it was safer to stand while eating.  Toucan sighting was the most desired for bird watchers, but we spotted only one elusive fellow; the Plush-crested Jay being far more cooperative.

As our energies were waning, the rains moved in for the day, so perfect timing for our departure.  An incredible visit, and worth the hassles of getting here.  Without going into all the details, I'll just mention the first oversight which threw a monkey wrench into our plans.  On Sunday evening, 48-hours before our first planned flight, we learned from a friend, that #1--it is necessary to have a visa to travel in Brazil if you are from the USA, and #2 --it takes 2-3 weeks to obtain a visa, needless to say we didn't have the visa, and we were scheduled to fly into Sao Paulo, and then catch a flight to Fao do Iguocu (in Brazil).  Non-refundable tickets already purchased, things sort of went downhill from there, but in the end it all worked out, and 24-hours after planned, we were at the beginning of our South American adventures.

Expecting a small village, we were surprised to learn this is a community of around 80,000.  By staying in the center of town, however, it felt like a small village.  "This town is boring," a local businessman said, in his way of describing the safety in the area.  Prioritizing Argentinian beef, Alan indulged in tender, perfectly cooked steak both evenings, and I enjoyed the local river fish.  Pacu and suburi are found only in the rivers here, so I wasn't going to bypass the opportunity to try them.  Buttery and sweet, the small grilled pacu was perfect, served with a mango chutney.

Heading next to Buenos Aries, we boarded a bus for an eighteen hour trip.  Having opted for the upgraded ticket, we were able to recline our seats for sleeping but then everyone else did too, so once we were all settled in for the evening, it was something like being packed in like sardines, especially if you had an inside seat.  First-run movies in English, with Spanish subtitles, provided entertainment, but dinner was questionable, and I was glad we had some bananas and nuts to snack on instead.  All in all though a comfortable trip.  Now time to explore our new destination.

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