Iguazu falls made my hair stand on end. Literally. Something to do with the negative ions generated…I don’t really understand it and a quick google search doesn’t leave me any more informed, but something about the power of those falls left me giggling like I was drunk and with my hair standing straight up in the air.
We spent a full day exploring the Argentina side of the falls for up close views. They used to do row boat tours that took to near the edge…yes, on the TOP side. Your life was literally in the hands of one (hopefully) super buff rower. But too many boats full of tourists went over the edge (not a fall you can survive) so they shut that operation down.
Now they do motor boat tours at the bottom of the falls. About a month ago, on the day our friend Suz was there, a boat got too close and someone died, but it’s generally considered safe. We decided what-the-heck and payed for the 10 minute adventure of zipping into the immense spray. It was worth every penny. People stared when I climbed aboard in my bikini, but when we debarked, wringing out our hair, they were all wishing they had shed their modesty and followed suit (no pun intended). It was a rollercoaster-like adrenaline rush to drive into that spray- It’s beyond amazing how much power water can hold.
The next day we decided to head for Brazil’s half of the falls. As US Citizens we can’t legally enter Brazil without a visa, but word on the street is that officals will look the other way if you just want to visit Iguazu for the day. Those of you who know Cameron and myself well know that we both have “Oldest Child Syndrome” in which we have an irrational fear of getting our hands slapped by authority figures. I thought I was bad…until I met Cameron. Just crossing the Canadian border gets his palms sweating for some reason (I’ll never forget the time a few years ago when we were crossing back into Washington from B.C. The border guard asked him what our relationship was and all he could manage was to stutter “Uh…um….uh…” until I came to the rescue and clarified for all involved that I was The Girlfriend, thank-you-very-much.) So I took on the role of reasurring Cam that our “illegal” border crossing into Brazil would be no big deal, even though I wasn’t so sure what exactly we were getting ourselves into. Sure enough, true to rumor, we rode a local bus right across without even stopping at Brazil’s immigration office for permission. No one batted an eye, but we sure felt like rebels all day long! Funny how easy it is to get our goody-two-shoes adrenaline going! 😉
Getting to Iguazu involved us taking a 20 hour bus all the way from Buenos Aires and back in just a few days. We spent more money than I care to think about on both the bus and the entrance to the Falls. But it really was an awe inspiring place. The sheer amount of
water and energy created by those Falls is mind boggling. I loved the feeling of the wind the falls generate and the fine spray that manages to soak you in a couple minutes time, the rainbows that live eternally in the midst of that spray and the birds that swoop in and out, nesting in the cliff behind the falls. No doubt to me that it was worth the 40 hours of travel and entrance fees.
Iguazu was our last hoorah in Argentina. Argentina was lovely and luxurious, but it was so huge and had so much to see that we spent too much time and money, and were both eager to get out. Arriving back in Colombia felt like
coming home; the noise of the streets, vendors hawking goods and ringing bells at 6:00 in the morning, dinner of mystery meat on a stick and grilled arepas(corn flour pancakes filled with cheese, egg etc.) on the street corner, huge colorful markets where you can buy anything your heart desires…all the parts of Latin America that have captured our hearts and that most of Argentina in it’s civility and class doesn’t have. We both walked around Bogota with goofy grins on our faces, exploring that wonderful city. We made fun of (between ourselves) the dozens of pimply faced 16 year old “Policia” guarding every street corner and doing absolutely nothing. (Cam heard somewhere that up to 25% of the Columbian workforce is in law enforcement. Every corner has groups of them standing around doing nothing).
We gorged of piping hot arepas fresh off the grill and tropical fruits we’ve never seen before. We ohhed and awed for hours at the Botero museum (I’m in love with Botero’s work which is easily recognizable by it…roundness) and got a tour of the very strange Police museum where we got to see the blood stained roof tile where Pablo Escobar’s head fell when we was killed. And of course, every night, we went to the corner bar and shared a hallowed out
coconut shell with two straws brimming with a fresh batch of chicha(fermented corn beer that supposedly involves the maker’s saliva at some point in the process but tastes like a good apple cider in the end). Bogota is one of my favorite capital cities.
But alas, we were being beckoned by the Carribean. As much as I adore Bogota, I adore the beach more. So off we went to Santa Marta, Colombia to while away the hours of our last few weeks in South America. We decided to fly- partly because we are feeling the time pressure of only having a few weeks left. But also partly because we have made it through nearly a year without a single mugging or robbery, on foot or during travel, (know on wood!) and we’re both feeling a bit superstitious about these last few weeks. Most routes throughout Colombia are safe by bus, but I think we’re both feeling like our number must be coming up soon and would rather not push our luck.
Tayrona National Park, with it’s coastal jungle and white sand beaches is not a secret by any means. But it’s still hard enough to get to that it’s not quite overrun yet. From the Park entrance you can hike 2 hours through the jungle and beach to reach Cabo San Juan del Guia beach. We cheated on the way in and paid for a motor boat because we were carrying in 4 days worth of food and water. The Park is full of deserted white sand beaches and tropical jungle, but much of it is still hard to access. The park rents our fancy cabins near the entrance, but beyond that there are only a handful of camping/hammock rental sites. Believe it or not, neither of us had ever slept in a hammock, so we decided to give it a go. We paid a few dollars extra for the hammocks over the sea, as opposed to the ones about 100 feet inland. Connected to the mainland by only a thin strip of sand, our hammocks were in an open air palapa surrounded on all sides by crashing waves. During the day we stretched out on the sand to read, swam in the crystal clear water, learned how to crack open the coconuts that fell around us (after the local guy stood by and amusedly watched an embarrassed Cameron bang the coconut on a slab of cement for a good 5 minutes, he decided to give us a lesson). By night, the ocean wind rocked us in our hammocks (When my one long sleeve shirt wasn’t enough- everything is perpetually damp that close to the ocean- I resorted to wrapping myself up in my yoga mat. Once again, yoga was my saving grace). Every night brought a lightening storm. From our hammocks we could head the ocean waves constantly, but all we could see was the sky, lit up by a strobe flashing of lightening. The first night there was no thunder, but the second night the storm was over us. The rain blew in and the thunder shook our palapa. We rocked away in our hammocks, surrounded by a stormy ocean, and even while I
was feeling a bit nervous about the thunder, I knew that it was a beautiful experience. But no matter how stormy or windy the night, morning always greeted us with sunshine and calm waters. So it was that we spent 4 days snacking on cans of tuna fish and a jar of peanut butter and learning how to sleep in a hammock. I loved it and slept like a baby. Cameron wasn’t such a fan.
The last week has been pretty much the same. Fresh fruit smoothies on the corner every morning, an avocado a day for lunch, lots of beaches and sunscreen…it’s been lovely and perfectly uneventful. On June 10th or friend from home, Amanda, is coming for a visit, but until then our plan consists of more fruit and more beaches. Tomorrow we head west to a less touristy beach called Tolu that we know very little about. But in all honesty, as long as we have a patch of sand and some water to dip in, we’re pretty dang happy.
Hope the sunshine at hope is lifting everyone’s spirits! Sending lots of love from our Colombian paradise…