Still shaken but not broken
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At breakfast I was there in person but mainly not in mind. Somehow I organised starting the trip at 10 a.m. With Mike (New Zealander) and David (German), I recruited Marieke (Belgian) to join us. So with the plan to meet at reception at that time, I was surprised to not see Marieke. After giving her some time to appear, we gave up and went to the bus station located opposite the hostel
Impatiently waiting in reception I talked to the manager. It was just a follow up to a previous conversation as he told me the owner would get in touch in the first week of January. He seemed sincere, so ‘I did not tell him that I would not hold my breath’.
With the time at nearly eleven, the three of us headed to the bus station. As the bus appeared I reached down into my side pocket for my ticket. It was not there! Frantically I searched all my pockets; still nothing to be found! Thinking it had been dropped I needed to retrace my steps quickly. I asked the guys to wait and hold up the bus as I ran back to reception. There, I did not have to ask as the receptionist waved the ticket as he saw me. So with the ticket back in the form of a ‘relay exchange’, I ran back to the bus station. I just managed to get onto the bus. Mike: "you must have been a good runner when you were in school." I merely nodded as I was still in shock. It was disappointing as Mike and David obviously had a pact to leave me due to the inconvenience. My teeth were ‘gritted’ throughout this journey.
Iguazu Falls are taller than Niagara Falls and twice as wide over nearly two miles of the Iguazu River, Iguaz˙ Falls are the result of a volcanic eruption which left yet another large crack in the earth. During the rainy season of November to March, the rate of flow of water going over the falls can be 450,000 cubic feet (12,750 cubic m) per second.
Devil's Throat, (garganta del Diablo), where fourteen falls drop 350 feet with such force that there is always a 100 foot cloud of spray overhead. To get a close up view, walk through the subtropical forest of National Iguašu Park to the base of Salto Floriano and take the elevator to the top of the falls. Alternatively you can walk out over the falls at Salto Union. From the Argentine side you can take a series of catwalks over the water rushing into Devil's Gorge
Once we arrived at the Falls my mind was put at ease. Keeping your mind active and busy decrease the thoughts of negativity; so true. At the entrance gate I caught the first look at the difference in ‘local’ prices and ‘foreigner’ prices. It was along the lines of $AR80, with the latter price at $AR100.
We had to take a train to the main entrance which was pretty good. The sights of going more into the park heightened my expectations and pushed up my heart rate. Inside the park I marvelled at its’ size and beauty. I was at one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Hello Iguazu Falls! Presently sun and blue skies were about and it added to the spectacular sight. Waiting patiently at the gates was Marieke. I was very surprised but happy to see her. Thankfully the group managed to coexist as I ‘turned the other cheek’ but I could feel it was the wrong environment. One telling fact was that we all took pictures of each other alone. Looking back I am glad it went down that way.
We decided to take a small break for lunch and consume some overpriced food and drink. I merely ordered a sandwich as I was not sure how long the park would take to discover. Whilst eating, a funny chain of events occurred.
In the park we had seen some coatamundi but there were a lot near the cafÚ. An Oriental family decided to feed a few in spite of the restricted signs. So it was very amusing to see two of the coatamundis take the father’s sandwich. One of them even scratched him with it’s sloth like claws to release his food
Back exploring and the weather took a turn for the worse. Gone were the blue skies and sun. They were replaced by grey skies and a drizzle in the air. Due to the change in weather, getting nearer to the Falls and being wet, we decided to go on shirtless. So with that in mind, I left my ticket, wallet and keys in Mike’s backpack, as he offered. I heard the voice of a North American lady commenting on us. Maybe being shirtless was not allowed but as it was not a ‘religious’ site, I ignored any thoughts.
Having just my phone camera, I had used that to take pictures. I was wise not to get the phone near the Falls, with the guys taking pictures from five feet away. So I would be the only thing getting wet. What I failed to take into account was the drizzle and slight wind from the Falls. Soon my phone was very wet and had switched off. Although I had not taken enough pictures, it did switch on when needed to and that was good enough.
In addition to entrance tickets, I purchased a raft ticket. There were three option s presented: a short, medium or long trip. I opted for the medium option as did Mike and David. Not knowing what to expect we queued up for life jackets and satchels.
Having left everything with Mike, I left my phone in my pocket to take pictures on the raft. This was to prove foolish. The trip started off fine but the waterfall spray started to build up near the ‘Devil’s throat’. I grew worried and put my phone into my pocket and rested my forearm above it as a shield. Unfortunately this was not enough. Not only did we get nearer the ‘Devil’s Throat’, but we actually went underneath it for a good minute. There were a few shrieks and people frantically trying to shield themselves. As for me: thanks to having worn my sunglasses I could look up with ease at the heavy volume of water descending on us. It was a strange sight but pretty cool. It was one for one on decisions. Bad in not keeping my phone in a satchel, but a good idea to carry sunglasses.
Being ‘drenched to the bone’, the general consist was to do a little more exploring and than return to the hostel. Marieke, who decided not to do the raft ride, was pleased as she was a lot drier than us. (I was to find out a couple of tourists died in an accident here in March 2011. With that in mind, being soaked and having damaged my phone was nothing to complain about).
With the time at 3.54 p.m. Mike and David wanted to get the 4 p.m. train to the first entrance
Having just made the train I was exhausted but pleased at making the distance in a quick time. It took a while to get onto the bus back into town as there was a big queue. Due to that I was just happy to get in and not be crowded out. We reached back at 5.30 p.m. and I immediately ‘ducked’ into my room to get ready for the party later. In my mind I noted the penultimate bus was at 7.30 p.m. as I did not want to rely on the last bus for the night.
Waiting in the reception, I was joined by Mike, Tano and Marieke. Once we got on the bus a few other hostel guests joined us. There were three Oriental girls and an Australian girl. As they were dressed pretty fancy I told them how good they looked. The Australian spoke but was less than impressed. This was going to be a long night, I thought.
Once we arrived at the bigger Marcopolo Inn hostel, I noticed that it looked like the place in George Michael’s ‘Club Tropicana’ video. The pool was huge and behind it, the building looked like a hotel complex
I recall lightly flirting with Marieke, Katja and the Australian at different times up until dinner. Needless to say with all that had gone on in the last thirty six hours, my ‘head’ was not in it and it did not lead anywhere. Example one: “it is a good thing I can speak English as we would not be able to communicate otherwise.” Me: oh, we could communicate in the language of love.” Example two: “do you know any French?” Me: “just French kissing.” Okay, not the greatest of responses; send me to jail, why don’t you?
For dinner there was a buffet table. It contained vegetables, meat, potatoes, salad, sandwiches, pasta, fruit and cold cuts. It was a long table and as I was hungry, I visited it on three occasions.
With my phone unresponsive I had to rely on others to be informed towards the countdown to midnight. There was some champagne handed out as we counted down but the moment was anti-climatic. Half expecting warm embraces, there was more of a muted celebration. Thinking ahead I had positioned myself around women but it was nothing like a ‘New York’ celebration
I watched on at the dance floor with Mike dancing with Marieke. My own fault, as I should have asked some of the girls to dance, but I felt drained. I conversed with a few people and just wanted the night to end. As more and more people mimicked the jumping into the pool of ‘Club Tropicana’, I sat on the sidelines. Having just a few clothers remaining that I could not get wet nor did I feel to enter the pool, I ended up talking to Martin’s family.
Some of the people to enhance the night and this trip were Tano and Martin and his parents. Martin’s father wanted to buy me a few drinks and did give me a glass of his red wine. It was a nice gesture. I single out Martin as we chatted for a while after his parents called it a night and he kept my spirits up.
With the time heading towards 2 a.m. Martin invited me to go to a nightclub with him and his sister. I had half wanted to go but I was unsure. Thinking of tightening my spending due to the money I had lost, I had to decline. So I spent around an hour drinking and watching people frolic in the pool. Not a great decision but one that was forced on me. I did not feel trying to get a taxi on my own and in my confused state, so I had to wait until others were finished.
It was a while waiting on the main road when we tried to hail a taxi. As there was five of us, most drivers did not stop. Mike tried to thumb a lift as he was ‘flipped off’ by a passing motorist
Bart (Belgian) had tried to ask the reception to call us a taxi but we were still waiting twenty minutes later. He was about to do the same thing as a taxi finally stopped for us. So with Marieke on my lap and David, Mike and Bart in, we departed. A funny note during this time was my phone turning on randomly. Mike heard it and suggested “something was turned on.” I laughed, as my attention was to check my phone but it was not possible until Marieke was off my lap.
When we got home I went to bed as the others with Tano and Mindee (American) celebrated by jumping into our hostel pool. I could hear patio furniture being thrown in and multiple jumps into the pool. Most jumped in with their underwear on and some were fully clothered. (This was found out through picture exchanges in the future). I was just glad to be in one piece and to have ended this night. My eyes closed as I thought of 2011 and what it had in store for me?