Saturday, March 31, 2012
Friday, March 30, 2012
Thursday, March 29, 2012
No words can describe the first sight of Iguazu Falls in person. Your heart stops beating for a moment and then it flutters back to life as you gasp to catch your breath. I was not prepared. It's one of those things everyone tells you, "Iguazu Falls is the most incredible thing you've ever seen." All the standard cliches apply. I was afraid it wouldn't live up to the hype. I was dead wrong.
I arrived early enough to catch the first train of the day, which was already packed to the gills with tourists. I departed at the first stop: Central Station but noticed that I was only one of four people disembarking here and was wondering if I was in the wrong place. I checked the map and this was indeed the right place to access the high and low circuits to view the falls. The next station was to access the Devil's Throat.
In hindsight, doing the high circuit first thing, at the beginning of the day was the best thing to do. Not only is it a great way to orient yourself to the falls, but it seemed as though all the other tourists flocked to the Devil's Throat first, leaving the high and low circuits abandoned. I was in relative solitude as I explored the falls. Looking at the river that feeds the falls it seems like an impossibility that they flow with such volume and over such a great expanse of land. The river at the mouth of the falls seems so tranquil and deceptively shallow. How is it possible to feed such infinite magnificence? You can’t quite grasp it all on first sight.
Because of the power behind the falls, creating the mist, you’re never far from a rainbow, eternally, it seems, hanging in the atmosphere here. The mist means that you’re also usually damp, too. The high circuit takes you on a journey across the top of the Argentine side of the falls, allowing visitors to look down over the falls, and catch a glimpse of the Brazilian side as well. The low circuit puts you mid-level and below, down to the base of the falls, offering an entirely different perspective, each spectacular and unique in their own right.
Wednesday, March 28, 2012
Tuesday, March 27, 2012
Monday, March 26, 2012
Looking at the map I considered what I wanted to see. Unfortunately, Pablo Neruda's house is closed on Mondays so that was out. There was a restaurant I read about in Bellavista that sounded promising for lunch and an acensor that was supposed to be "a must". But at the top of my list was finding a post office. I know it sounds silly to some but scoping out the nearest post office is always at the top of my list in any new country. When I arrived into Santiago it was the weekend, so the post office was closed. It was now my mission to find one here.
Well, the post office on the map was no longer there. I was out of luck. But I was close to Bellavista so I headed toward the acensor to take me up the hill. When I found it, it was closed and looked like it had been for a long time. Strike Two. Okay. I guess I'm hoofing it. I swear the people who live here have got to be in the best shape ever because these hills are butt busters times ten. (Cheree, Ruthie, Michelle you know what I'm talking about!) And by the time I got to the top I forgot the name of the restaurant, but there was one that I thought might be the right one. As I approached I overheard an American voice telling a French couple that he had just dined there and had the best meal of his trip. I interrupted and asked him if it was that good. He said it was so I started to enter when he asked if he could join me and buy me a glass of wine perhaps. I could tell we were both starved for conversation so I conceded.
I'm glad I said yes. Joe and I spent the rest of the day together talking and wandering. His girlfriend was back at home and unable to come on this trip because she has two small kids and he was eager for a little company. He was at the end of his trip and spent most of it in solitude, like me, with the occasional breech by other tourists here and there. After lunch we started wandering the streets of Valpo. The street art here is amazing. Seriously, if I had more time I would do a book on it. Valpo is a colorful city to begin with, but the street art just takes it to another level.
We ended the night with an amazing meal near my B&B and a nice bottle of wine. Talking about our past and future travels. It was wonderful to be able to share the day with a fellow traveler. Being older, and no longer in the hostel culture it becomes more difficult to meet other people while traveling. But traveling definitely makes me more open. There is no way in hell I would have given a stranger the time of day if I were at home. Somehow being in a foreign country demands you let your guard down. And I think that should be something we all carry everyday. Not just on the road.