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Colin and Sue’s Travel Diary

Friday, 08 Dec 2006

Location: Buenos Aires & Puerto Iguazu, Argentina

MapWine tasting at the South American Explorers Club - more talk (in Spanish) than drink so was something of a disappointment - but afterwards we went to a traditional Parilla for barbequed steaks. We had to wait for a table as it was absolutely packed but it was well worth it as the food was great.

On Saturday we went to the River Plate stadium to buy our tickets for Sunday´s game and a t-shirt for Colin. We got a taxi there or nearly there - the driver dropped us off by a little park saying the stadium was just across the park. It was actually across the park and then some - about 10 minutes walk - we could only think he was a Boca fan who couldn´t bear to go any closer to the enemy´s ground. Question for John (our football phone a friend) - why River Plate not Rio del Plata?

We then went to Tigre, a town on the Paraña river delta which was amazingly like Stratford upon Avon - the river, bridges, lots of tourists, rowing boats, boat excursions and even half timbered buildings (although not the real thing). We had a circular boat trip and then caught the river bus - the houses on the delta are only accessible by boat and have river addresses (eg Paraña 48) and the boat stops on request at the jetties - all very bizarre.

We´ve discovered buses in Buenos Aires, especially the wonderful 60 bus which goes everywhere so went off to Boca to see the traditional colourful buildings, tango dancers in the street and of course the stadium. Then across town to the game. River Plate had no chance of winning the championship as it´s the end of the season so the stadium was half empty but the home end terraces were completely packed with the hard core fans singing and drumming throughout the game, and furling and unfurling a huge flag across the whole end. The game itself started promisingly with River scoring in the first 3 minutes and then went downhill with the final score River 1, Nuevo Chicago 2. Oddly the away fans leave first but they were enjoying their triumph too much to leave quickly so we had a very slow exit (nothing wrong with the English practice of treating away fans like scum and keeping them behind, we thought).

We spent our final day in BA sightseeing in Palermo - parks with lots more multiple dog walkers and plazas. Colin had the strangest lunch - arrollado primavera (arrollado translated as rolled pork in our phrase book). We imagined pork rolled round spring vegetables not what can only be described as swiss roll with the cake rolled round ham and cheese topped with mayonnaise and ketchup - not a culinary triumph.

We got the overnight bus to Puerto Iguazu and have spent 3 days viewing Iguazu Falls which are truly impressive - not just the series of huge falls and the volume of water but the tropical backdrop with plants growing at every opportunity. We saw them from from all angles and countries. The Argentinian side gives you the close-ups - the trails right by the river and the tops of the falls, the walkways over the river to the Garganta del Diablo (Devil´s Throat), swimming in the river and the obligatory speedboat ride right under the spray. The Brazilian side gives you a much better panoramic overview of the whole series of falls. We spent 2 days on the Argentinian side - the first soaked by spray and the second by a massive thunderstorm and then had a nice dry day in Brazil. We also hoped to do a full moon walk but following our cloudy stargazing in Chile we were thwarted by clouds again. Perhaps our previous bad luck with weather is now limited to astronomical events only.

Wildlife viewing was mixed - despite loads of signs telling you not to feed coatis (and to hide food from them suggesting they might attack) we only saw two coatis and no monkeys. But we did see an alligator, a turtle, lots of lizards and iguanas, and a baby toucan poking its head out of a hole in a tree looking for its mother. There were also loads of colourful butterflies and amazing great dusky swifts flying into the spray and perching on the cliffs right by the water.

We didn´t have time for much else in Puerto Iguazu but did walk to the Hito Tres Fronteras where you can see Brazil and Paraguay from Argentina across the confluence of the Iguazu and Paraña rivers.