I was mulling it over, bouncing ideas around and what have you, and I came to the realization that I've never written anything about the brief weekend I spent on the Argentinian side of Iguazú Falls. And that just didn't seem right in my opinion. I mean, how can I have a travel blog that never mentions my trip to the largest waterfalls system in the world?
Well, dear reader, we no longer have to ask ourselves that question, because I am remedying the situation right now with this very post you are reading. It may have been over three years ago, I may have to rack my brain and look through a ton of photos to remember everything, but we are doing this, damn it.
To quote Heath Ledger's Joker: "And here... we... go!" (You better have read that with the appropriate pauses, or I will be deeply disappointed with you (P.S.: bonus points for adding in the hand gestures (P.P.S.: don't you just love my introductions?)).)
It started, as a handful of shenanigans do, with wine and whiskey. One after the other, poured in our little plastic cups as we sat all chummy on a Greyhound-type bus, heading north from the city of Buenos Aires into the Argentinian country side.
There were perhaps 12 of us students, mixed and mingled with a crowd of various others who were headed to the same place: Las Cataratas del Iguazú, which, as the world's largest waterfalls system, straddles the border of Argentina and Brazil.
Seventeen hours after saddling up for our overnight bus ride through the provinces of Entre Ríos and Corríentes and into Misiones, we arrived at the bus terminal in Puerto Iguazú, stationed at the corner of avenues Córdoba and Misiones. There, at the tip of Argentina's northeastern most province, we were but a half mile from Brazil and just a mile and a half from Paraguay, separated from each country by the Iguazu and Paraná rivers, respectively.
After purchasing tickets to get into Iguazú National Park, which were conveniently available at the bus terminal, we only stayed in town long enough for me to grab some cash from a questionable-looking ATM down the street. Then we were off, taxied away from the main part of town we'd first encountered upon exiting the bus and whisked to our lodgings just down the way along National Route 12.
Planning for this quick weekend getaway from our Spanish language studies in Buenos Aires had been what one might describe as helter-skelter, so I hardly knew what we were in for when we pulled into Hostel Inn Iguazu, the place we'd be staying just one night at before hurrying back to the Argentinian capital. It was not the fanciest hostel in the world — we paid only $15 USD per person for a reason, you know — but it would do for one night, plus they had cheap liters of beer.
(Hostel Inn Iguazu is now called the Tangoinn Club Iguazú and maintains a healthy 2.5-star rating, in case you were wondering.)
A couple of the students that had made the weekend trip opted to split from the group and stay at the snazzy Sheraton Iguazú Resort & Spa, which is actually located within the national park. They had the privilege of previewing the park and the falls before the rest of us would venture there the following day (those little rascals *endearing shake of the head*). The other eight or nine of us found some food in town, spent a little time by the pool, and played the always-revealing game of "Never Have I Ever" before hitting the hay.
In the morning, the rain came. And came. And came. And kept coming. Armed only with the blue sweatshirt visible in the photos above, I was no match for the torrential downpour. But we hadn't ridden seventeen hours on a bus through three Argentinian provinces to sit at a 2.5-star hostel all day. We got in a pair of taxis, and the rain fell down. We arrived at the park entrance, and the rain fell down. We headed for the waterfalls, already soaking.
There was a metal walkway through the trees and shrubs and brush. We followed it to a viewing platform and gazed at the water gushing down in unfathomable amounts, white and gold and brown. The largest waterfalls system in the world, and there was Brazil just across the river. Brazil, where the 2014 FIFA World Cup was getting underway — the tournament that concluded with Argentina falling to Germany, 1-0, in the championship.
Soggy group photos and candids commenced with plenty of just-went-swimming hair and, with temperatures hovering somewhere in the low 60s (Fahrenheit), maybe a shiver or two. Sometime later, we had climbed down to a dock — or some kind of launchpad for waterborne vessels, anyway — and boarded a boat that would take us right into the action (because we needed to be even wetter, obviously).
There comes a point when, after you've been soaked to the skin for a couple hours or so, you stop caring (a little bit, at least) and just accept it as a state of being. "This is the wettest I have ever been and probably ever will be in my life," you say to yourself, knowing that your inner voice speaks with the utmost veracity. "This is the wettest I have ever been, and there is nothing I can do about it right now," it says. And you concede, there is nothing to be done, so you might as well enjoy yourself anyway.
Enjoy ourselves we did, from the boat ride into the falls to the truck ride through the forest afterwards — the two main parts of what is called "La Gran Aventura." All I can recall from the truck ride through the trees are my attempts to avoid being hit in the face by overhanging branches, but there were probably some bird calls and other various animal noises providing background music.
From the forest we marched, soaked to the teeth, to the food court, Fortín Cataratas, and enjoyed a meal while pondering how much water weight our clothes contained. A stop in the lobby of the Sheraton hotel in the park, where I spotted and took über-crappy photos of a toucan that was chilling outside on the patio in the rain, followed lunch, but the rest of our time in the park is coming back to me blurry — you might even say, at the risk of sounding "punny," that it's been washed out.
Rain-soaked images of me waiting and shivering near the entrance of the park for the taxi that would take us back to the hostel — or maybe straight to the bus terminal? — do flash across my mind's eye, but I think that's all I've got for you as far as the falls are concerned.
And if that didn't paint a pretty enough picture for you, by all means, get yourself to South America and check this place out! If you're lucky, it will be sunny and you'll only get half as soaked as we did.
P.S. Totally forgot to mention that a few of us dared to enter/climb up to La Garganta del Diablo — the Devil's Throat. The giant, horseshoe-shaped waterfall meets all of your please-soak-my-clothes needs and can be seen in the video below: