Our time in Salta was pleasantly spent. On Sunday (May 23rd) we took the bus to San Pedro de Atacama, Chile. The road takes a pass over the Andes mountains which was 5,200 meters (17,100 feet). Being at such high altitude caused my stomach to rumble and tumble and I felt like I had a bayonet twirling around in there. Add to that a headache and difficulty breathing and it all adds up to a very miserable twelve hour bus ride. Thomas and his iron constitution did not have any trouble and pleasantly read his book during the bus ride.
After arriving at San Pedro we had to walk a bit into town from the customs station on the edge of town and got settled in to the Hostel International. San Pedro is a very cool little town with adobe buildings and dusty streets. The town and desert landscape is straight from the planet Tattoine (Star Wars). On Monday we did a tour to the Valley of the Moon, Tuesday a early morning (4AM) tour to the Geysers and Wednesday we did an all day tour to the Salama salt flats, some lakes & mountains and a caynon. After getting back to San Pedro at 6pm we hopped onto a bus and headed for Calama which is about an hour and a half away.
In Calama we checked out our bus options and found that there was a bus leaving at 9:30pm heading overnight to Arica, which is where we wanted to wind up. So we bought tickets from a little too friendly ticket agent and headed down the street to the local pub to kill the time before the bus. The bus ride went well and we got to Arica at 6am. After a quick taxi to the hotel we slept off the travel weariness and had a look around town. The plan from here is to head to Arequipa, Peru.
Our foray into Paraguay on Tuesday was interesting. We took the bus from Puerto Iquazu for about an hour (only that long due to the traffic) through Brazil and over the Friendship bridge into Paraguay. The part of Cuiduad de el Este that we visited was basically a big market and really not that nice. However, Paraguay is blessed with a wide variety of Fanta flavors and the only thing I bought during my short stay in Paraguay was a strawberry flavored Fanta. Delicious! So we trotted around and got harassed by people for a few hours and then caught the bus back to Puerto Iquazu. And that was that.
Our long bus ride went pretty well and flew by except for the last couple hours when we knew we would be arriving soon and started getting antsy. Today we have been touring the town of Salta and took a cable car to the top of a hill overlooking the town. The plan from here is to leave Sunday morning for the Chilean town of San Pedro de Atacama.
From Rosario we took an overnight bus north to Posada. Upon arriving in Posada we waited around a couple hours at the bus terminal and got on the next bus to Puerto Iquazu, which is a town very close to Iquazu Falls. The bus was of the local variety and we spent the next six hours picking up and dropping off a variety of people about every 10 minutes and visiting each little town and side road along the route to Puerto Iquazu. But we made it finally and got settled in fine.
Today (May 17th) Thomas and I visited the mighty Iquazu Falls. Simple put, it is an area where the river has 275 waterfalls all contained in a fairly small area. There were two main areas to see, one with lots of walking paths and the other with a grand view from above the falls. There is a little train that drops people off at each spot. Along the walking trails there were a variety of different views of the waterfalls and we could get very close at a few spots. We took a little boat across the channel at one spot to get a closer view of the smaller of the two main clusters of waterfalls. Then after getting back up to the train we visited the Garganta del Diablo (the Devil´s mouth). The view from there was amazing as we were basically right on top of a huge cluster of waterfalls with many more all around us. But that spot was easier to walk to so there were loads of people all over and was a bit crowded. After heading back towards the train we discovered a raft that offered to take us down the river back to the train station so we decided to go on that. It was very cool and we got to see some turtles, alligators and some different birds. At one point the boat paddler slash guide motioned for me to come close and then flicked something off my shoulder. It was giant ant that had landed on me I guess. I am just glad it was not a spider! After disembarking the boat we had a short walk back to the entrance and caught the next bus back to town.
Tomorrow we are going to attempt a foray into Paraguay and then come back to Puerto Iguazu to leave tomorrow night at 9:45pm to head to the town of Salta. It is going to be an endurance test as we will not arrive into Salta until 11pm on the following night. So about 25 hours on the bus which is unfortunately not the Cama (the best kind) class that has three seats across but just a Semi-Cama which has four seats.
We stayed in Buenos Aires from Monday until today (Friday). Thomas and I had a great time exploring the huge city and checking out it´s many sights. We took a city tour one day, visited the Recoleta neighborhood, did a shit load of walking and ate at a bunch of different restaurants, saw the movie Troy, and of course had our obligatory dining experience at the Golden Arches.
Today we headed four hours north to Rosario on a very stuffy and hot bus and the plan is to head further north towards Iguazu falls tomorrow on the overnight bus.
Well, when we were planning on going on the overnight bus we showed up at the station in Viedma only to find there were no buses going that night. So we chilled another night in Viedma and bought a ticket for the overnight bus on Sunday. In Viedma little kids seem to be very intrigued by me. At one restaurant we went to there was a kid who was staring at me the whole meal then when he went to leave he came up to me and asked me where I was from and I told him and then he looked like he was thinking “Ok, that makes sense,” and then said “bye”. The other day at the bus station a little kid was starting at me so hard he walked right into a chair!
The bus journey went well though. We left at 7pm and got in at 7am this morning. Stopping at a restaurant to eat a meal that was included in the bus fair. My only problem on the bus was they had the heater cranked on high and I was literally sweating all night. But better then being too cold.
We checked into the Hotel Marbella this morning and slept for a bit and then today walked around for a while and checked things out.
We left Trelew yesterday and caught a bus north to Viedma. We had a ninety year old taxi driver with no teeth take us into the center of town and checked into another posh hotel for about US$16. Ate some more pizza last night. There seems to be more pizza restaurants then any other kind here, but that is fine by me. Tonight we are heading on the overnight bus to Buenos Aires.
Happy Birthday Pa!
Today we took the bus north to Trelew. It is a pretty nice town that was originally a Welsh colony. Today we visited the Museo Paleontologico Edidio Feruglio which has a whole bunch of dinosaur skeletons. It is really cheap here in Argentina. Here in Trelew we are staying at a pretty nice big old hotel and it is only A$45 (US$15) for a nice double room. We were paying about the same for much more rugged places in Chile. Other things like internet and food and really cheap as well.