Another one of those incredible ‘wow’ moments this week, how utterly ennui. Do you actually do anything else, Reed?
We’ve been bouncing around in the last two weeks, whilst at the same time staying still. Which is odd, this staying still bit (I can feel my girlfriend’s eyes rolling from 12,000km!). A few days to rest in Buenos Aires, and to give Izzy a full-service, felt like a month went by. Lovely restaurants, cool graffiti, learning the history of another coup and a nation morning the disappeared, a city of Eva and the upcoming Summer Youth Olympics, BA is incredibly endearing. We even made time to pop over to the wonderful Uruguay on a catamaran for a few days, as you do, crossing the chocolate-milk River Plate.
Time plays a lot of tricks when you travel, and travel with such freedom and speed: a week and a half ago I was hunting orcas (shooting photos, not guns) on the eastern coast of Argentina; I rocketed up the coast through traffic and mayhem of Buenos Aires rush-hour to meet old friends; I picked upmmy travelling buddy for the next few weeks, Richard Clayton; we then visited the picturesque Uruguay, chilled out in cafes and got bitten the crap out of by mosquitoes at Cornito del Sacremento, a mash of Spanish and Portuguese influence; we picked up some more hitchhikers; spent two great days at Iguazu Falls; then went to Paraguay via Brazil, which was a bit unexpected.
In the past I tended to research places to death: the planning for London to Sydney took four years. This trip has been more ‘well that sounds all right, let’s try for there’. Hence driving across the bridge from Argentina, not knowing that I was in fact arriving to Brazil not Paraguay, and then having to circumnavigate across open-border immigration where effectively you can stroll right on through three countries if you were so inclined i.e. we did it and had some back tracking and apologies to do. Incidentally, rocking up at a border and saying you want to go to a city that’s not actually in that country, does make you look a bit of a tit.
Iguazu / The Great Water
Argentina’s Iguazu Falls fits into one of those wonders of the earth highlight reels (or the universal Reed ‘let’s try there’ system), along with Victoria Falls, Niagra and Angel – the latter is the only one now to evade my glare. I always find facts a little meaningless unless you can relate to them: everyone knows how much a litre of water is, but if you say the rate of flow is an annual peak of 6.5 million litres a second . . . the brain just says ‘yeah, sounds big’. To make sense of it all, you need a comparison, which is probably easiest with Niagra since it’s one of the most visited. Iguazu is taller than Niagra and twice as wide, with twice as many peak litres per second. In scientific terms, it’s referred to as a shit-tonne of water. Unlike when I was at Niagra when the Maid of the Mist ambled up to the colossal waterfalls and slams the engines into full-power to avoid getting sucked under, Argentina has a different policy: send everyone over on small speed-boats and get everyone on board absolutely soaking wet. I don’t think I’ve ever been to a UNESCO World Heritage Site that was as photogenic, vast and fun in my life. Oh and wet, staggeringly wet.
One of the many things I adore about travel is opening yourself up to meeting new people treading vastly different paths. Life is beautiful with people drift in and out of your lives, sometimes only fleetingly, sometimes for years and then many years apart. A chance encounter after being robbed of all my possessions in Madrid on my 21st birthday has endeared me with one of my dearest friends, and meeting a pastry-chef on a horrendously dodgy flight in Indonesia ten years ago has blessed me with another. In the last ten days alone I’ve met with lawyers, expedition guides, teachers, resource consultants and social workers, all following their passions, and I wonder which ones I may meet again. When working in London and learning Spanish, I was lucky enough to meet Anthony, a hard-working high-flyer buying a property in Argentina. Fast forward 15 years and although Anthony now lives in Singapore, the four-bedroom house in cool San Telmo, Buenos Aires, remains, and Myriam, our lovely Spanish teacher at the time, manages the property. Having showers and proper beds every day felt like a bit of undeserved luxury, which is the best kind of luxury known to man. A huge thank you to both of them for their time, kindness and generosity!
Onwards to Paraguay! Via Brazil, obviously, everyone knows that.
4/25/2018 05:05:54 pm
ok...so this is weird Richard. Your friend, Myriam, was my Spanish teacher in BA when I was there in 2009. And we tried to continue via Skye lessons once we came back but only lasted around a month. Trying to get a good time for both sides of the world wasn't easy. Lovely to see her face in that photo....she hasn't changed at all!
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You can find the excellent 2006 Antipodean Adventure blog by Dwyer Rooney here