Argentina, Igaussu Falls, South America

The Argentinian Diaries – Day 1

March 29, 2010

I checked out of my hotel this morning saying goodbye to my precious ocean view in Rio and hello to Igaussu Falls, Argentina.

The hotel staff called a taxi for me and had told the driver that I was en route to the airport. Or at least so I thought. Turns out my driver did not speak English and had no idea where he was taking me. Lucky for me I had a nice honest driver this time and he called his English speaking friend and had me talk on his cell with him. He kept referring to me as the gringa! Grr. Turns out there are two airports in Rio. Thankfully all was settled rather quickly and he got me to the required airport on time.

Had an absolute lovely flight abroad TAM airlines and arrived in the Brazilian side of Igaussu Falls in no time. Was greeted at the airport by a very lovely lady from GAP Adventures and she took me and another gentleman from Ottawa to our respective hotels after crossing the Argentinian border.

My hotel … well it´s wet, smelly, and a far cry from my last hotel and my next hotel. Its even a little dirty. I will have to grin and bear it for the next 3 days.

I went into the city and had another nice cab driver who drove me to a place where I could exchange my Brazilian real for local pesos.

I then hunted down an Internet cafe. What can I say? I like to be connected. Nerd alert!

Argentina, while green and beautiful is very poor. It reminds me of my time in Equador and Peru.This truly is a third world country. Where I was protected from the poverty in Ipanema, I am not here. There are kids chasing you down the street begging for money.

Tonight, while I dined on a local Malbec and some pizza, kids kept coming up to my table trying to sell me something so I offered them food instead. I gave out more than half my pizza and I can say that is the best thing I have done since I got here. They broke my heart – so cute, so young, and seemingly without parents supervising them. They probably thought they outsmarted me – the gringo white lady, but I don’t mind. 🙂

While I ate, a local man eyed me and began conversing with me. He tried speaking with me but I did not understand a word he said. I believe he invited me back to his place to have wine with him. He certainly was bold and annoyingly persistent. He came back three times. He also told me through hand gestures and some broken English that my eyes were as blue as the sky. LOL!

I look forward to meeting the rest of my group tomorrow. I hope we can hang out over the next few days.It has been kinda lonely so far! I hung out with 4 guys from Alabama during my  Corcovado-Sugarloaf tour but that has been it so far.

Had a glimpse of the waterfalls from the plane. SPECTACULAR! Tomorrow should be a good day.

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2 Comments

  • Reply Goytá F. Villela Jr. October 27, 2012 at 8:06 PM

    Puerto Iguazú is tiny, poor, and while it has a Sheraton Hotel, otherwise you’d have been able to get a much better hotel deal in Foz do Iguaçu, the much larger city on the Brazilian side. It has lots of good hotels of all ranges and prices, both in the city and on the road to the national park and the falls. It’s also a city with much better urban and tourist infrastructure than Puerto Iguazú. Plus, you’d only need to have border formalities once to enter Argentina and see their side of the falls.

    However, you got a wrong impression of Argentina. Northern Argentina is the country’s poorest region and the Misiones province, where Puerto Iguazú is located, is particularly underdeveloped – *well* below the national average. You’d have a very different impression of the country if you had gone further south. Whether Brazil or Argentina is more developed depends on the parameter: while Brazil has a larger, more dynamic and modern economy, Argentina has a much higher average living standard, education level, and Human Development Index – Puerto Iguazú is wealthy compared to some towns in the impoverished Brazilian Northeast, and further south, Argentina makes it hard for you to believe that you are in South America rather than in Europe. Buenos Aires is a European city placed in the wrong continent and an absolutely fabulous place to visit – every corner of it oozes with an Old World elegance, charm and flair that even Europe itself has forgotten. If I had to recommend only one South American city for someone to visit, it would be Buenos Aires – and mind you, this is an opinion from a Brazilian, supposed to have a strong rivalry with the Argentine (though I personally find it BS and have always got along very well with the Argentine, a people that fascinates me for the passion with which it lives every second of life).

    And as for Paraguay (specifically Ciudad del Este, their city near the falls), yes, great shopping there, especially for electronics and luxury goods, but you have to beware of counterfeit and damaged products, scams and corruption. It’s a very chaotic place and definitely not for someone who doesn’t know the tricks or the language. However, a visit to the Itaipu Hydroelectric Dam (the world’s largest power generation plant until the Three Gorges Dam in China is fully operational) on the Brazil-Paraguay border could have been nice. Visits must be authorized and arranged in advance, but can be done from both the Brazilian and Paraguayan sides and can be very interesting.

    • Reply Cheryl Howard October 29, 2012 at 9:27 AM

      @Goytá – Thanks again for your comment. I’m also very happy with where I stayed and what I did there as it was all part of my travel adventures … wouldn’t change it for anything.

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