Thursday, November 26, 2009

(new) Three countries one day.

Hasta pronto Buenos Aires. We’ll be back in a week or two but today we were headed to Iguazu or at least to the bus station. We were going to take the bus but when Mintaut heard that she gave us another one of her helpful tips. The subway station just two blocks away had a train that went directly to Retiro. That information saved us schlepping our big bags on a crowded city bus and also from transferring stations. Instead we schlepped our bags in the hot midday sun through the humid city streets and down the stairs. But the trip took us just 15 minutes.

We needed the time we’d saved to navigate the bus station. Our first stop was the ticket desk so we could find out at which of the 75 bays we could find our bus. The clerk told us somewhere between #29 and 40 so we went downstairs and sat in the middle of those numbers with time to cool off before we boarded our 20-hour bus to the Brazilian border. As the bus pulled out of Buenos Aires the rain that had been threatening for the last week finally came. The sky opened and it poured rendering our view from the front seats useless. That’s okay, we just wanted to sleep and wake up in the city. So after dinner we stuck on our facemasks and earplugs and went right out.

We woke up sore and stiff but we were a few hours away from Iguazu. The scenery was a flashback to central America. All green and jungle and hills and tropical fruits growing alongside the road. It almost made me homesick for Honduran taxi drivers – just kidding. But it was certainly a nice change after the last month or two of mountains, deserts, pampas and other dry stuff. And it momentarily distracted us from the fact that at least one limb was numb after sleeping on it all night. Night buses. I will not miss these when we’re in Africa (although now that I’ve typed that I imagine we’ll have a few coming up). They’re just not getting any easier.

Just before noon the bus pulled in to Iguazu and we got off. Immediately we were hit with a wall of sticky humid and hot air. It was like we were in the middle of the jungle or something. Within 30 seconds we were covered in a layer of slimy sweat. So we forced the circulation back into our limbs and began the walk to the hostel which was located on the main street in the middle of the town. And it wasn’t what I expected. Having stayed at the snazzy new Che Lagarto in Calafate I almost walked by the one here in Iguazu. Actually we did walk by it but a woman saw us looking at signs and came rushing out to greet us. This hostel was an old hotel in the midst of being renovated. The manager was nice and showed us our room. The room was nice too with a private room (although obviously furnished with the old hostel stuff) but the rest of the hostel was a mess of construction – there was no pool or bar or computers. Now I understood why it was so cheap. But at least our room had air conditioning.

We showered the bus slime and sweat off of us and decided to take a peak around this frontier town. The shower was wasted. Within minutes of exiting the hostel we were covered in sweat again. Oh fun. But we had a destination in mind. We were headed to the intersection known as Tres Fronteras. This wasn’t just a street intersection it was the intersection of three countries – Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina – all at once. It was a fair trek from the city in this heat and humidity so we did our best to stick to the shade. It should have been a straightforward walk but the map of town the hostel had given us had the hostel marked in the wrong place and was missing a few streets. In this case it was the 5-year old Lonely Planet that set us on the right path. I guess it’s allowed to be helpful every so often. We eventually found the Tres Fronteras. While we stood on the Argentinean side of the river we could see Brazil across from us and Paraguay right beside it. Since time and high visa costs were keeping us from visiting the other two this was as close as we were getting. So we (and by we I mean Adrian) posed with Paraguay and then Brazil and then Argentina and finally with all three. And that was it. There was nothing else to see or do. So we guzzled 2 litres of water in the shade and then headed back to cool off in our air conditioned hostel room.

Eventually we had to head out for something to eat and without Mintaut around to tell give us one of her tips we once again had to consult the Lonely Planet to recommend a parrilla and headed out. It was a lot pricier than we expected or wanted to pay. The waiter recommended one dish that he said was big enough for two. It was barely. So we were done quickly and back in the cool hostel. After all we’d been to (almost) three countries in one day and we were tired.

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