Saturday, February 04, 2006

Feb 4-7 - Buenos Aires

We flew back to BA from Iguazu where we would be spending a few days just checking out the city. We were also able to meet up with Wade and Rena and Shari and Eamon again.

We did a city tour and wandered around a couple of the shopping districts. We were also able to get tickets to a Boca Juniors soccer (futbol) game. As the game was on Super Bowl Sunday, Gary and JoAnn took a pass on the soccer and watched the Super Bowl, while the 6 of us headed to the futbol game.

Boca is supposed to be the most popular team in BA (which reportedly has the highest concentration of first division football teams in the world) and after seeing a game, I can believe it. We were told it wasn't an important game so tickets would be easy to get. The stadium probably wasn't sold out, but it might have been close. The one end of the stadium was for the standing room tickets and it was packed. From about 30 minutes before kick off, they started singing and except for a break at half time, didn't stop the entire game. The rest of the stadium joined in from time to time. The final was either 2-0 or 3-0 for Boca over Lanus so everyone left happy.

BA was where we parted company with Wade and Rena after a very successful month of travelling. We decided to end on a good note and go out for a big meal. We lucked out and found a place that served all you can eat meat. You have a little tab at your table that you flip over to the green side when you want more, and they just bring by tray after tray, skewer after skewer of steaks, ribs, chorizo, chicken, pork, you name it. I think there may have also been a salad bar.
Needless to say, everyone left happy.

The next day ourselves and Gary and JoAnn packed up and flew north to Salta. The plan was to rent a car and drive around the northern part of Argentina near to Salta, and then make our way south towards the wine region of Mendoza. Sounds simple enough, right?

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Feb 1-3 - Iguazu

We left Wade and Rena in Santiago and headed to the airport for our flight to Buenos Aires (from now on 'BA'). Tanis' parents (Gary and JoAnn) had flown into BA a couple of days before hand and we would be meeting them in the airport and then all of us flying up to Puerto Iguazu. We had two hours of connection time, so we thought we had all sorts of time. Except that our flight left from a different airport(the domestic one), which was about an hour away. But we made it in time and met up with Tanis' folks and made it to Iguazu with no problems. We spent the rest of the day relaxing and figuring out our plans for the next two days.

The big attraction in Iguazu are the Iguazu falls. The falls are on the border with Brazil and are massive. We took a bus into the national park in the morning and spent the day walking around the various walkways, bridges and paths to view the different sections of the falls. I think there are about 200 hunderd separate cascades.

It was very hot, and after walking around for 4 or 5 hours We decided to then take the 'Grand Adventure' tour, which consisted of a boat ride in the falls, a boat ride down the river, and then a 4x4 ride through the jungle back to the park entrance. Perfect.

We had watched the boats going up to certain sections of the falls all day, and you could see that everyone was getting soaked by the spray.

So everything of value had to go in the dry bags. But they took us up the entrance of the Garganta del Diablo (throat of the devil) to start with and basically backed the boat right under one of the falls. Gary and JoAnn were sitting in the last row and were just about washed out of the boat.

We were in the row ahead of them so it wasn't quite as bad, but you couldn't see anything there was so much water. Needless to say, we spent the rest of the tour in wet clothes.

For the 3rd, we decided to rent a car and drive a ways to see some of the ruins from the Jesuit Missions. The Jesuits had a number of Reducciones in the area in the 15th and 16th centuries where they would house large populations of indigenous. In return for their labour, they would be housed and educated (to some degree). The ruins we saw were at San Igancio, which used to house a few thousand people in its hey day. We were lucky enough to tag along with an english tour so were actually able to learn a little about it. The settlements were eventually abandoned, as apparently the Spanish were quite jealous of the Jesuits success with the indigenous populations and eventually banned them from the area. There's a movie called The Mission (with Robert de Niro) that is about the Reducciones, but I think it might be more to do with when they were driven out of Brazil into Argentina, but I haven't seen it (although I may rent it now).