Jake and I were completely blown away by Argentina. The country surpassed any expectations we had, and our bellies were happily full of red meat about 75% of the time! We never really considered how big Argentina is, specifically how long it is, and thus never realized how vastly different each region would be.
The next day we took the long and beautiful drive from San Pedro de Atacama toJujuy, and ultimately Tilcara. Everyone told us the drive is gorgeous, and they weren't lying! For 7 hours we drove through vast deserts, giant mountain passes, and through the Salinas Grandes. The landscape was interchangeably dotted with cacti, salt patches, colorful rocks, llamas, vicunyas, and bright yellow shrubs. The only part we didn't like was the border crossing. What should have been an easy process of stamping passports and scanning baggage turned into an almost two hour stop of standing around. Every other passenger on the bus got stamped and got back on the bus in about 45 minutes. But when we approached the counter to get stamped into Argentina and have our reciprocity receipts verified, the Internet stopped working. And, thanks to the brilliant management of the immigration office, we weren't allowed into the country until it came back on. They already stamped or passports - we were cleared for entry in terms of security, but they weren't able to verify that we had paid the reciprocity fee online. We did everything right on our end, but we weren't getting in until they could confirm that they had their money. So we waited. And waited. And waited. And no told us what was happening, or what they were doing to fix the problem. We even tried to help by asking if they can just call another immigration office and have them verify our payment, "No hay telefono," they told us. What? You don't have a phone?? So if the power goes out or the Internet breaks forever, there is no Plan B? How about they use one of the cell phones they're all playing with and use that? Absurd! At one point we thought they might be looking for a bribe, but they kept walking away from the desk so we couldn't even slip them money if we wanted to. I'm not sure that the Internet ever actually came back on, or if our bus driver finally sweet talked them into letting us through. All I know is that almost 2 hours after we arrived at the boarder we were finally back on the bus, and greeted by 60 irritated faces. Ugh! What a frustrating experience! We did everything we were supposed to do, and we did it back in August to ensure that we would have no problems. But sure enough, something out of our control happens and we cause a delay for a whole bunch of people eager to get to Salta. Oh well.
We finally arrived in Jujuy where we changed buses to head to Tilcara. The trip that was originally supposed to be about 6 hours was now more like 10. We were the only passengers getting off at Jujuy instead of continuing on to Salta. I could feel all of the eyes on us as we got off the bus, the other passengers saying with their glares "Really? We waited for you at the border and now we have to make a special stop just for you?" One girl had approached us at the border, asking us what the problem was, and explained that she had a flight to catch that night in Salta. When we pulled into the Jujuy terminal, she jumped out quickly to ask the driver how much longer it would be to Salta. I'd bet she missed her flight. We learned from her mistake, though- never book a flight for the same day as a long bus ride and border crossing! As we retrieved our bags from the carriage, a man who worked for the terminal opened the baggage door and grabbed them for us. We handed him the two bag tickets to prove they were ours, and then he asked for something else that we didn't understand. He repeated himself and we still didn't know what he wanted. We already gave him the tickets, what's going on? "Money" he says next. Ha! Money? He is asking for a tip!? Please! Strike two, Argentina - what's up with you so far? We stifled our laughs (really? A tip for opening a door and checking our bag tags?), and told him we had no Argentinian money yet having just come from Chile, which was true. But even if we had, we wouldn't have given him any. Man, this day is getting weird. We learned later that this is standard practice in Argentina, but we still think it's rude. Needless to say, Argentina was off to a bad start.
We finally arrived in Tilcara near 11pm when we had originally expected to be there for dinner. Oh well. Thanks to an expensive sandwich we ate at the bus station in Jujuy, my hunger monster did not attack anyone. In the dark, we meandered down the dirt roads through this small town to our hostel, where our private room and bathroom were waiting for us. It's weird how tired one can be after a day of doing nothing but sitting in the bus. Off to bed we went!
In the morning, we gorged ourselves on the free breakfast of tea, coffee, and bread with the best dulce de leche/manjar that we've had -it's basically the South American nutella, and tastes like milky caramel. YUM. With bellies full of sugar, we took off on foot to check out the ruins of Pucara, an old Inca fortification that sits on top of a hill on the outskirts of town. The stone and mud buildings that included homes, kitchens, animal pens, and meeting places were discovered in 1908. In 1935, a pyramid shaped monument was built on the site in honor of the two archaeologists who discovered Pucara. Sounds nice, right? The bummer is that in order to build to monument the builders knocked down old buildings and houses to make space! How backwards is that? We didn't understand how honor to archaeologists could be shown by knocking down what the archaeological site they discovered. We toured the site for awhile, awed by the structures, but even more by the giant (and I mean giant) cacti that grew everywhere. When we thought of Northern Argentina, we certainly didn’t envision desert and cactus plants! They were really beautiful.
Our culinary journey through Argentina started on the right foot in Tilcara, too. Dinner at a small restaurant called Khuska was so, so good! And for the first time in months, we had red wine! While it was just the house wine, it tasted like the nectar of the gods! The restaurant was highly reviewed for its traditional dishes, especially humitas (not quite a tamale, they are little pockets of what I would liken to thick corn pudding with cheese in the middle, wrapped in corn husks and steamed. Yum! Our favorite thing we ate that night!) and locro (stew with hominy, beans, chorizo, and other bits of meat). As we chowed on our delicious meal, I looked a little closer at our locro, curious about what all was in it as the menu wasn't all that specific. I eyed round bits that didn't resemble any vegetable I'd ever seen and realized quickly what it was - intestine. Oh dear. And then I found the tripe. Oh geez. We wereeating the "nasty bits", as our hero Anthony Bourdain would say. Had they been listed on the menu, we probablywouldn't have ordered it. And had we known about it before taking a the first bite, we wouldn't have eaten it. Fortunately for us, we had already eaten about half of it and loved the flavor, so we kept on working through it! Jake really wishes I hadn't let him know about my discovery mid-meal though. Next time I'll keep it to myself. Look at us, adventurous eaters! I'm still not eating bugs, though. We capped off the night with a delicious dark beer, Salta Negra, back at our hostel.
The next day we visited the small town of Purmamarca, just 20 minutes south, to see the famed Hill of Seven Colors. It was very pretty! Surrounded by drab looking gray hills is one section of the range that is bright rust colored, with one face a rainbow of mineral colors showing the age of the mountain. Purple, pink, turquoise, white, orange all alternated. Perhaps there are 7 colors, but we could really only distinguish five. To get a good view we climbed to the top of Cerro Verde, a hill across the highway from the town. This climb was free and a much better view than the teeny tiny hilltop viewpoint in the town that costs 3 pesos each. We finished or exploration of the town and the hill in about an hour, and had 45 more minutes to kill, so we sat in the tiny square listening to someone playing the flute and watching the many puppies run around. Side note: South America has so many dogs! Dogs are everywhere!
The next afternoon we snacked on street food empanadas before catching our 4 hour bus to our next destination, Salta. When we arrived in the large city, the baggage man at the bus stop there demanded a tip. In fact, almost every man who has put our bags on the bus or taken them off has demanded a tip. Yes demanded. It's fine if that's the norm to pay them for the small service (we looked it up to be sure, and a tip is indeed expected), but it's not fine how rude they all are when they demand the tip. "Moneda! Money!" They keep repeating in an authoritative tone. Never once did they say please or thank you, they just tap their opposite palm and demand cash. Rude. We tipped him, but we didn't feel good about it! In our whole time in Argentina, only one baggage guy was polite and grateful, and even said "Thank you". We were happy to tip him!
Salta is the second largest city in the country, and it seems to appear out of nowhere. While we expected to be enraptured by the city, we didn't really find much to do during our three night stay. We're glad we went and saw it, but it's kind of a big boring city.
Probably the most exciting thing we did there was change money on the black market for the first time! When we entered Argentina, the Blue Dollar was still around. So what's the Blue Dollar? When the old president, Christina Fernandez de Kirchner, introduced tough currency change restrictions and artificial controls on the exchange rate to incentivize internal investment, the black market exchange was born. People could either exchange US dollars at the official desks for one rate, or change them with an unofficial trader and get it at the "blue" rate, which was typically about a third better. While it's not legal, the police didn't really do anything to stop the exchange, and men stood on street corners shouting "Cambio! Cambio!" to tourists as they walked by. As we walked through the main square, we chatted with a few blue dollar traders and asked what rate they were giving that day. Most of them were within 25 cents of the blue dollar rate that was listed online for that day. So we picked the guy we liked best and made the deal. Here's where the mob boss movie feeling kicked in - he led us into the back of a mostly deserted diner where we sat down at a table and made the cash exchange. We each checked our bills for signs of fraud, shook hands, and walked out. While it was all very normal, I'm not gonna lie, we felt pretty badass.
With pesos in our pocket we enjoyed a free walking tour around the town, that took us past the beautiful pink cathedral and large monument to Guemes. Even better, we were the only two on the tour! We enjoyed the company of the other travelers staying at the hostel, especially that of Florencia and Marcella, two girls originally from Rosario, another large city that we would be visiting in just a few weeks. We chatted with them over the meals we cooked at the hostel (we cooked most meals to save some dough), and enjoyed a three hour walk through the town and up Cerro San Bernardo, a hill that offered a nice view of the whole city and the mountains beyond it. As we got to know these two hilarious ladies, Florencia told us about the soap opera that is Argentinian politics. We were in Argentina at a very interesting time! Here's a short synopsis of what we learned:
- From 2007 to 2015, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner was president, she is the widow of the former president, Nestor Kirchner.
- Many believe that Cristina came to power because she either killed her husband, or ordered her son to murder him.
- Interestingly enough, the new governor of Buenos Aires was Cristina's husband's VP - there's something fishy about the relationship between Cristina and this guy.
- As Peronist ruler, Cristina was considered to be bad for businesses in Argentina, and lots of people did not like her, citing a stagnant economy.
- In 2015, Argentina held its presidential election. Cristina lost by only 3% to Macri. Macri will take office on December 10th, when Jake and I are due to arrive in Buenos Aires!
- As president, Macri has declared that he will release the clamp on the dollar, allowing the Argentinians to have more economic power and this the ability to travel more. We were already seeing the effects on the Blue Dollar!
There's a lot more to this soap opera, and I encourage you to check it out. Politics in South America are crazy!
Speaking of soap operas, we won't even go into detail about the girls who took our bunks in our shared room! While we did cook most meals at the hostel, we made sure to take advantage of the northern specialties, humitas and empanadas, before heading south. Sure, empanadas are everywhere in Argentina, but, as we learned from Florencia and Marcella, each region of Argentina makes a slightly different empanada. So of course we need to understand the culinary differences in each spot. Here in Salta, the typical empanadas are made with ground beef and potatoes, and even after traveling all over the country the Salteña empanada is still my favorite kind of empanada. Humitas, though, still win overall deliciousness.
Enough with the north - it's time do what we do best - DRINK WINE!
A four hour drive through farm land and over mountains brought us to Cafayate (pronounced Caf-a-jate by the locals) the home of the deliciously aromatic white wine Torrontes! Yay wine tasting!!! Cafayate itself is quite a small little town, and it's just starting to gain traction on the tourist beat. Most people don't think of white wine when they think Argentina. They think red wine, Malbec, from Mendoza. But Argentina is home to so much more than just Malbec! It'd be a shame not to try the Torrontes from Cafayate, the Malbec from Mendoza, and the Pinot from Patagonia. I mean, it's all in the name of my wine education!
We wandered from the tiny bus stop down the dirt roads of town to our adorable hostel, Hostel Casa Arbol. With its bright, cobalt blue door, rustic yet chic Anthropologie-style décor, and adorable kitty cat, it's no surprise that we (ok really mostly I) fell in love with this place immediately. We were very comfortable in our private room, loved the free breakfast of cereal, fresh baked bread with dulce de leche, coffee, and tea, in a relaxing sun room with grapes growing over the banisters outside.
There wasn't much to the town, so we were able to cover just about the whole thing on foot as we walked from winery to winery. The main square was lined with trees, providing a lovely meeting place for locals, and great spots to sit and eat the wine ice cream, which, of course, we tried! The Torrontes ice cream was quite refreshing, while the Malbec left something to be desired. In any case, they were way better than the beer ice cream we had in Warsaw! Our culinary exploration didn’t end there. Even though we were only in Cafayate for three days, we ended up eating at the local empanada joint, La Casa de Empanadas, three times! The empanadas were, clearly, so delicious, and we also loved the house red wine that was served in a clay pitcher. Our favorite meal, though, and perhaps one of our favorite meals of the trip, was at a local parrilla or grill restaurant. While sipping some vino at one of the wineries, we asked the girl working the tasting room for some recommendations for dinner. "Walk down the street a few blocks after dark until you see some brick buildings with smoke coming out of the chimneys. It's basically a room with a giant grill in it and tables on the sidewalk. You walk up, point to the meat you want on the grill, and sit down." With a description like that, how could we not go? So we followed her directions down the street several blocks until we came across the smoke stacks seeping from a brick building. Just as she instructed, we picked out our meats (some sausage and a rib eye), and were quickly served salad, fries, and Salta Negra beer by one of the nicest men we've met! Before we got the bill, Jake and I tried to guess how much it would be - $40US? $60US? Imagine our delight when we handed over the equivalent of about $12US! We were stuffed to the gills with delicious food, and it also turned out to be the highest rated parrilla in town (according to Trip Advisor)! What a perfect evening!
Ok, ok, we were there to drink wine! We spent a day walking around to several different wineries, starting with my favorite, El Porvenir. We arrived just moments before it opened and were greeted on the sidewalk by the woman working the tasting room. She welcomed us into the lovely property and we immediately fell in love with the place. Gorgeous succulents decorated the patio, big wine barrels lined the walkway, and the tasting room was crisp and clean (thank goodness for AC - it was hot!). We did our best to muddle through with Spanish, but she also spoke perfect English, so we took advantage of the lack of a language barrier to ask all of the questions we wanted. It was just the two of us in the room, and we got to take our time with our pours (which were huge). The wine was delicious; I only wish it were cheaper to ship some bottles home!
Our second favorite tasting spot was Domingos Hermanos, a large scale production winery that had more of a Napa atmosphere. The tasting room was attached to a hotel, and all of it was next to some of their vineyards. This tasting was more formal, or at least it seemed formal - we were seated at a table outside by the roses and grapes and served all of the wines at once, along with a cheese plate. Maybe it wasn't formal, maybe they were just understaffed…I don’t know. Had I had tons of questions I probably wouldn't have liked this setup. Fortunately it wasn’t our first rodeo and I loved that we could sit peacefully and enjoy our wine in the beautiful setting at our own pace. We bought a bottle to bring to Buenos Aires later.
The cheese we ate actually came from the goat farm owned and operated by Domingos Hermanos winery. Many years ago, the brothers decided that they wanted goat manure for the vineyards, so they started raising them on part of the property. Then they realized that they might as well make cheese since they had the goats. Little did they know that they'd end up with really wonderful product! We took a tour of the farm (in Spanish!) and were impressed by all that goes on there - there are cows (including a giant bull!), ducks, goats with all kinds of long horns, and the standard milking goats. We even saw a baby goat that had been born that day! Dogs roamed theranch, and a delightfully snuggly kitty greeted guests inside the cheese tasting room. We devoured our tasting that came with the tour - few things can beat fresh cheese!
Cafayate may be totally out of the way, but it was so worth the stop. My love of Torrontes is even stronger, and my palate was primed for all of the Malbec we would consume in Mendoza. But first we had to get there. By 4pm we were on the bus, taking the four hour drive from Cafayate to Tucuman, where we caught another bus for the 15 hour overnight journey to Mendoza.
Ahhhhh Mendoza! The wine capital of Argentina! I had some high expectations of this place, thinking that it would be something similar to Napa or Sonoma, that the town would be adorable and that we'd love just spending time there. And then we started talking to some friends who had been there. "Eh, don't spend much time in Mendoza. Just go drink the wine and get out. There's not much to do." What? What do you mean there's not much to do? It's a wine town, there must be tons do see!
When we arrived, we quickly learned that our friends were right. Mendoza is nothing like Sonoma or Napa or any other wine town we've been to. It's actually just another big dirty city without much to look at. The pedestrian shopping street is kind of boring. The main square, while pretty, isn't all that interesting. There aren't even any free walking tours to show important cultural or historical sights. There's really not much to do there. And, unfortunately, we didn't pre-plan our arrival very well - we arrived on a Sunday and everything was very slow or closed, and then there were two holidays in a row on Monday and Tuesday, so the wineries were closed! So we took the down time to edit photos and plan our Patagonia trip a bit more. We cooked our meals at the hostel and got our laundry done.
On Wednesday, our last full day in Mendoza, we got a chance to get out for some wine tasting. We had originally hoped to go to at least two of the three wine regions in the area (from highest rated to lowest, there's the Lujan de Cuyo, the Uco Valley, and the Maipu), but since we were on a budget for time and money, we opted to visit the more accessible Maipu region. The Maipu might not have the best Malbec in Argentina, but it was all still pretty darn tasty! And it's the most backpacker friendly of the regions - it can be explored by bicycle and without appointments at many of the wineries. Sounded like a good place for us! We hopped on the bus from the center of town and took the one hour ride out to Maipu.
While there are several bike rental options to choose from on the main road in Maipu, the one company that came up time and time again in my research was Mr. Hugo's, family owned and operated under the direction of Mr. Hugo, of course! As we walked to his place from the bus stop, two young guys working for Mr. Hugo's competitors tried to sell us on their companies. When I told them that we already had a plan to go visit Mr. Hugo, they told me, "He died! It's closed! No more bikes there!" All lies of course. Once we arrived it was clear why it's so highly rated - the bikes are in pretty good condition and rented for a good price, they gave us a map with a suggested route and wineries to visit, and had refreshments waiting for us when we returned from the day, along with an invitation to a giant backyard BBQ party. We were in good hands!
By the time we got on our bikes and on our way to the first winery, it was already after 11am, and I was thirsty! It would be another hour until I would get my first taste of wine, though. Stop #1, La Rural, turned out to be wayyyyyyy too expensive ($40US for a taste? This ain't Napa!), andStop #2, Trapiche, wasn't taking walkins until 2pm. The third time was the charm and we finally downed some delicious Malbec and Malbec Rose at Tempus Alba in their very pretty and very modern tasting room, overlooking the vineyards. We also stopped by El Cerno, where we had lunch (a combo plate of a sandwich and wine - now that's a good combo special!), as well as Familia de Tommaso where we got to try a vertical of Malbecs of varying ages. We both loved the oldest one the most and bought a bottle to take to Buenos Aires later.
We ended the day by taking Mr. Hugo up on that offer of the backyard BBQ. We'd heard about this event, actually, from some of the other people staying at our hostel. From the sound of it, we were in for a fun night! We walked with about a dozen other dinner guests down the street to Mr. Hugo's buddy's house (I still don't know the guy's name), and made ourselves at home in the back yard. A long table was set and wine glasses were at the ready. Nearby on the homemade brick island, wood was burning and coals were heating up, the grill waiting patiently next to the fire before being placed on top and filled with meat. Music was playing and appetizers were set out - marinated olives and fresh bread topped with prosciutto, basil, and olive oil. We tried not to fill up on the apps, knowing what was coming, but it was all too good! Then the rounds and rounds and rounds of perfectly grilled steak and sausage came around, as well as the potatoes and salad. For dessert, the typical dish of sweet potato paste and cheese! We ate and drank, and ate, and drank, as we mingled and laughed with the other dinner guests. I even bonded with a guy from the Yucutan Peninsula of Mexica over our mutual love of panuchos and conchinita pibil (my favorite dishes at El Portal in Pasadena). With all of the wine we had to drink, we became instant besties. The party would have raged all night long - there seemed to be no end of the wine and meat - had we not had to catch the last bus back to Mendoza. Since basically everyone at the party was staying in Mendoza, we lead the mass exodus to the bus stop. The 12 of us clambered onto the back of the midnight bus and continued our loud chatting and laughing for the whole 45 minute ride back to town. Our new friends invited us to go play pool into the wee hours of the morning, but we thought better of that and declined - it was definitely time for us to get some sleep!
Oh man did we have a blast at that party! What a fun group! What incredible food! What great wine! What a deal! WHAT A HANGOVER! The next morning, the morning we needed to check out of our private room, was just terrible. We both felt so, so awful. This was, possibly, the worst hangover either one of us have ever experienced. And we couldn't even just lie in bed all day. Ugh! And what's worse, our bus to Buenos Aires wasn't until 4pm, so we had all day to sit in the living room of the hostel, lying and sleeping on the hard couches. We were definitely "those" people in the hostel. It was terrible. Jake slept on the couch all day while I watched TV, glassy-eyed, on my computer from the chair. This, my friends, is exactly why we don't do "all you can drink" events - we're not 21 anymore, for goodness sake! After I forced us to eat a sandwich, we dragged our very tired, still pretty hungover butts to the bus stop where we boarded our 16 hour bus to Buenos Aires. As we drove, we both started to feel a little better. We even had enough energy to watch one of our favorite movies, "Inside Out", playing on the bus TVs in Spanish before falling asleep.
Adios Mendoza! Perhaps we'll be back when our livers recover!
While our next, chronological destination was Buenos Aires, I'm going to jump ahead to our time in Iguazu Falls to cap off our story of Northern Argentina and come back to Buenos Aires in my next post.
Instead of taking the 16 hour bus ride from Buenos Aires to Puerto Iguazu, we decided to fly. Thankfully, the tickets for the plane weren't much more than the tickets for the bus, so we really wouldn’t have saved much for all that time! It's been a couple months since we'd been in an airport - I forgot how nice it is to not have to be paranoid about our stuff all the time like we are on buses.
When my parents left the day before (read about their visit next week!), they told us about some protest that was happening at their airport that had caused crazy traffic and delays. While the protest was not at the airport we were using, we still wanted to be sure to give ourselves plenty of time there. And good thing, too - the line to check bags took almost an hour! The flight itself was one of our worst in terms of fellow passengers. Sure, it was nothing compared to the harrowing experience my parents had (read about that in our next post), but it was still an agonizing two hours. There were three or four small children who were just screaming bloody murder the whole time. And they were never given a bottle, a pacifier, a toy. They just sat there and screamed. We couldn't get off the plane fast enough!
As soon as we got outside it was obvious that we were in the jungle again. The humidity and heat and heaviness of the air hit us smack in the face. We're glad we were only staying for a couple days!
Our hostel, Nomads Hostel, was pretty great. Other than the front yard of rebar and bricks, the building was open and decorated for Christmas (as it was mid-December), there was a small pool, a nice breakfast room, and the AC in our room worked like a charm! We had two roommates, a couple from Ireland on a trip around the word as well, Seamus and Olive. We enjoyed chatting with them and comparing notes - they also went to Vietnam, but they quite enjoyed it. Lucky bastards. The four of us grabbed dinner together after Jake and I explored the Argentina side of the famous waterfalls and they the Brazil side.
Ok let's get to the reason for our trip back up north - Iguazu Falls. Considered one of the "New Seven Wonders of Nature", Iguazu Falls is the fifth largest (by width) waterfall in the world. It is shared by Brazil and Argentina, split at the top by a narrow and deep cut of the Rio Iguazu called "Devil's Throat". Brazil lays claim to just 20% of the falls, giving Argentina a large platform to explore the other 80%, and all of the amazing views that come with it. Since we're not going to Brazil on this trip and, therefore, did not get a Brazil visa, we stayed on the Argentina side. Being the rainy season in Northern Argentina, a few of the biggest attractions were closed due to flooding, so we were not able to go all the way our to Devil's Throat, or explore the island in the middle. And that was probably a good thing since we could see the tops of the trail markers on the island just barely popping out of the water!
Even though we weren't able to go absolutely everywhere, we still spent the better part of the day exploring the upper and lower circuits. We actually did the upper circuit twice, once when we arrived under the thick overcast sky, and once in the afternoon when the bright blue of the jungle sky started to poke through the clouds, giving the green surroundings even more brilliance.
The waterfalls are, in a word, breathtaking. They are HUGE. I have never seen so much water before in my life! The sheer power and force of all that water sure made for some great pictures and some scary thoughts of going over the edge! But it's all safe, though - the trails are built on raised metal walkways with strong handrails. The water rushed and swirled beneath our feet, a chocolatey brown color making me think of Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory. Giant black vultures circled high overhead over the pooled water below. Tourists crowded the viewpoints, all vying for the one corner spot that provided the most spectacular view. Some waited patiently, some cut in line. Jake and I watched everyone interact in multiple languages, no one really making sense to the others, as we waited for our turn in the prime location. Tourist attractions like this are always a great place for people watching since they bring together so many people from so many places. Most of the people we saw were South American, followed by American, German, French, and Singaporean. And, the majority group reminded us that people in South America are among the most rude we've encountered, regularly cutting in lines. Oh well.
On the lower circuit, we got to walk around the base of the falls a bit, and get drenched by them, too! In one spot, people can walk out onto a platform near the splash zone and take pictures. Most people wear ponchos or strip down to bathing suits, but Jake and I didn't have either of those things! So we went out just a few feet onto the platform and quickly snapped a shot. With water coming at us from all directions, we were soaked within seconds!
We walked around a bit more to dry off before catching the bus back to town. I love how easy it was to do this major attractions - our hostel gave us all the information on how and where to get the bus, how much it costs, what to expect. It was so nice to not have to wade through group tours, or figure out a taxi, or any other hoops that are usually associated with these types of popular places. And, for being a tourist town, Puerto Iguazu is pretty great! The restaurants and grocery stores are reasonably priced, and the surrounding homes and cottages look pretty good. I was expecting a town more like Huaraz, with dirt roads and half built homes, but what we got was a flourishing town with modern architecture and yummy food!
Northern Argentina was a great surprise. We loved exploring the incredible landscape and drinking all of the delicious wine. I didn't write about it because it just wasn't that interesting, but we also spent a few days in Rosario where we saw our final movie of the trip, Star Wars: The Force Awakens. We loved the movie, and that's about the most exciting thing we did there. While, chronologically, we were on our way to Patagonia after Iguazu Falls, in my next post we'll go back in time a few days and talk about our visit to Buenos Aires with my parents!