Saturday, March 31, 2007


We have arrived! And we don´t understand a damned word of Portugese which is making it slightly harder! So they let me into Brazil and my first ever border crossing was smoother than dulce con leche. Incredibly surreal though to cross into one country from the other by taxi and just get down, walk across, get your passport stamped and Bob´s your uncle. You get the drift.

However we are just across the river from Argentina in a town called Foz do Iguacu, the answer to Puerto. So it doesnt feel like Brazil just yet. This is a large city though with 250,000 people in comparison to the Argentine side which only houses 40,000. This is thanks to the huge Itaipu Dam that Brazil built out of the Falls and that brought in several thousand Muslims, Japanese and Koreans, weirdly enough.

The Brazilian side of the Iguacu Falls which we visited with our new English buddy Lexi, was much much better purely because there so many less tourists and the walkways took you to spitting distance of some of the falls, making them so much more humungous and thunderous! Though there were alot less butterflies too. Will post pictures shortly.

The hostel we are staying in is lovely with a pool and delicious caiparinhas - that is all we have been drinking since we got close to the border. We have met a cool Brazilian from Sao Paolo who has been giving us some super advice on our upcoming journey. Lee and I have decided to head to the beach as we are itching for some surf and the beach bum lifestyle that is calling us. We are buying a hammock on Monday, renting a car and heading for an island called Ilha Santa Catarina which is by a town called Florianopolis... it is supposed to be a pristine beached island with great surf and tiny bays with many undiscovered beaches. Whooo flippin hoooo!!!!

Last pictures of Argentina

Before we left Argentina, we managed to go through a number of small towns that were off the beaten track and were immensely beautiful - some you will see below, like Barreal and Belen, but there were others like Cafayate where we saw the most incredible mountains and river valleys with more colours than I have written about below! We then made our way to Salta which was our last big town of the country, we met a lovely English couple who we hung out with there and partied with in some local bars. Only to then make our way to Iguacu through Corrientes.

Due to the fact that I was unable to get a good internet connection most of the way, I am just posting some photos of a few towns and fantastic scenery we managed to see along the way. What a astounding two months we have had! Brazil here we come!

Today Argentina, Tomorrow Brazil!

So here it is, the final part of our fantastic journey through Argentina. I feel really sentimental about it - i think having immersed ourselves in this country, its culture, its quirks, its language and its people not to mention the food and the drinks... it is just weird to think for the next 2 months we are going to be in a new one starting from tomorrow.

Currently we are in Puerto Iguacu, the town that borders with Brazil seperated by a massive river which is by the most important thing, the Parque Nacionale Iguacu - home of the Iguacu Falls, the worlds' largest waterfalls. Roughly 275 rivers and streams meet up to form these thunderous wonders with their shiny rainbows and teeming with 1000's of fabulously coloured butterflies! At one point we were walking along the catwalks to each different fall with butterflies on our heads, arms, backpacks and t'shirts, they just love hanging on to our bodies as they soak up the water on our skin with their long little luminous green tongues. You can´t even feel it and it isn´t at all squeamish. Its beautiful.

We took a boat ride that takes you under the slightly smaller falls and they douse you in the spray and it is like a harsh shower but immensely fun! Being so close to the thrashing waterfalls, it makes you feel so small and in awe of so much water that just does not stop gushing down to the river. What an immense source of nature.
Following that, we were left to wander the islands and lush sub-tropical forest of the Parque Nacional Iguacu. Though the only comment I have is that there were too many tourists - so you felt like you were trying to get to the parts that had no festering groups of people who were too busy filming the falls and fiddling with their cameras than actually looking at this world wonder. Fools!

Still... click on Lee´s web album for the 12,546 pictures that we took of the Falls.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Belen and some Quilmes Indian Relics!

So we decided to take the small sleepy town route up to Salta which was going to be our last main stop before we made our way east towards Iguacu Falls and Brazil.

Belen, is a beautiful little town, centred in a valley and we stayed in what is one of north Argentina´s more stylish boutique hotels. And honestly, it was! Especially considering that we have been hostelling it and staying in some rather run down but lovely places, this was a real welcome stay for us. But the highlight of our trip to the town was the incredibly warm locals, who we befriended on our first night because the town was having its huge artesenal market - where all the locals displayed their crafts, jewelry, handwoven items plus there was food, drink and folkloric music! It was such a nice way to get into the whole vibe of the town, plus we got to put our money right into the income of the town by buying locally, which always makes me feel much better than buying it off some market seller who ´claims´to have made the item themselves.

We also ended up having the craftsmen and women (about40 of them) offering to share their very delicious and hearty bbq lunch the next day to celebrate the success of their artesenal fair. It was such an eye-opener as they were fascinated to have us two foreigners there, which they toasted a few times! We had a chance to talk to some of them about culture, world politics, their lives and ours, late into the afternoon/evening. All in spanish!

And we visited an old relic site of the Quilmes Indians - who were one of the last tribes in the area to have contact with the Inca´s.

Click here for more photos.

Barreal and land sailing!

The journey was long and there is only one bus a day that goes to this sleepy town, but oh wow it was worth every sleepless moment. Barreal is off the map - a town that is what you would imagine a quaint little South American town to be, dusty wide roads, willow trees draping the sides, horses and ranches, stunning landscapes, colourful little buildings and everyone on bicycles. We stayed in a beautiful little cabaƱa which had a kitchenette and our very own private back garden that spread out into a valley and then mutli coloured mountains! Just round the back was a rushing aqua green river, and the owner even had the funniest Alsatien dog that befriended us.

Two things made this trip even more amazing - at night, it is a star gazers absolute dream - I have never in all my life seen this many stars, more than even in Trincomalee, and you can easily see the milky way. Plus Lee and I must have spotted 4 shooting stars whie we sat under a blanket with a jug of delicious wine and watched for a few hours. I promise you it wasnt the wine that was making the stars fly.

The second thing, was the really cool extreme thing we did - its called Carrovelismo. In English, it is pretty much land sailing/yachting! It is all to do with the weather, and is so much fun. You get to go upto 80km per hour and it is so fast when its just you, the gadget and the dude who drives it - by the way this dude was such a gnarly old chap. He took us to these flat salt lakes, which basically used to be a vast lake but due to drought and sediments, it just dried up. Really cool. Check out the pictures here for our Barreal adventure!

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Punta Del Inca - ink stained mountains

I kid you not, this was one of the more spectacular scenic delights we were able to see in Argentina. The only downer was that we had little choice about being stuck on a small bus with 10 other tourists for most of the day. But in a way, it was so worth it. I will post the pictures because that is the only way anyone will be able to understand the awesomeness of this landscape. Basically, it is a point near the border of Chile (yes my attempts to enter without a visa worked again! ha ha).

The mountain range consists of The Andes and a range called the cordillero, which means the pre-Andes, very old mountains range that sort of sits infront of them. These are teeming with colour, faint tinges of ultra violet, cian, turquoise, terra cotta, pink, brown, orange, aubergine, grey, ochra, straw and olive green just to name a few! It was like a festival of my favourite colours.

Oddly enough the river that ran alongside it, looked like it was flowing with chocolate milk and this was no Willie Wonka fantasy. We couldn´t have asked for better weather - sun shining, blue skies and light breeze. After we drove past these coloured mountains, we arrived at Punta del Inca which is a point where minerals from the mountains had been swept down through cracks on to boulders by way of trickling waters - forming the most intense burst of yellows, oranges, and brown stains (almost) on the rocks itself, so fascinating. Also teamed with some fluttering luminous green parrots, it was quite the sight.

Following that, we drove up to the border of Chile and Argentina which was 4200 metres up in a mountain - the drive gave me the real heebies because it was windy and narrow... yeesh. Once we got up there though, you could tell we were at that altitude because you felt a little lightheaded and wobbly initially. Didn´t stop Lee from running up to the highest point to take pictures! There was a huge statue of Christ right between the flag posts, meant to signify the peace between the 2 countries... if only Sri Lanka would take note.

Mendoza - wineries!

Is not as incredibly fascinating as I hoped, to be honest it was more of a big colonial city. Some parts were beautiful yes, with the posh neighbourhoods, expansive plaza´s and lovely buildings with sidewalk cafes but there was something lacking. I think Lee and I have begun to like the small towns more, with their quaint and quiet charm - plus you feel more secure. there is something contrived about the big cities, however this comment does not include Buenos Aires. That city has a charm of its´own.

So we hired another cool tandem bike and did a bike tour of 3 bodegas (wineries), the company that rents out the bikes was called Bikes and Wines, so even as you get drunk the pedaling keeps you more or less sober plus if you´re going to wobble off - all you´ll hit is a tree, fall into a vineyard or crash into another bikes and wines biker.

The bodegas were really educational, not to mention slightly hazy with all the tasting, however I have to say that the more industrial ones with the big steel vats, coloured dials blinking and tubes whirring did rip the romance out of it all. There was one bodega which was the oldest functioning one in Argentina, built in1869 with cement brought over from France, bricks from London and construction engineers from Spain to make the storage tanks earthquake proof, it was a beautiful old musty smelling adventure. Plus there were no tourists and they had a secret recipe dessert wine. It was lovely.

We visited Tempus Alba, La Rural and Familia Di Tomasso (the old one), just in case one of you are sipping on any of these fine wines while you read this.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Endless road to Mendoza

This is from our bus journey from San Martin de Los Andes to Mendoza where we are now, just an idea of the vast plains and endless road that we have to watch during our journey...

Friday, March 09, 2007

A little sentimental

I've just been cruising through some of my sister Tasha's facebook pictures, and I am missing her a fair bit, along with my parents, though I thought I would post a picture of my sassy little sister. So here she is.

And I thought I'd post a picture of my wonderful parents too, cause I miss seeing their smiling happy faces.

We've made it to Mendoza and had a really long arduous overnight journey where we didn't sleep well at all even though we splurged on the first class cama seats... anyway, we're in a cool hostel called Lao and there are alot of hammocks and a gorgeously funny Alsatien dog that keeps following us around... and its HOT! finally. Wine tours tomorrow!

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Horse riding and Cerro Catedral Mountain Walk

This is from our walk up the Cerro Catedral, which is a mountain about 2000 metres high, and yes we climbed to the top. It took 10 hours, and we started from about 600 to 700 metres, however it was beautiful, really scary as we had to traverse and rock climb along some insanely steep bits, and really lush with rich forestry in other parts. We made it to a Refugio Frey which is where all the rock climbers go to, and camp overnight...that is the tiny house you see on the horizon in the picture above. Click here for more pictures of that adventure.

Have managed to upload some pictures, just click here to see Lee's photo album for the rest of them, they are pretty cool. This is a few of us horse riding through an estancia that was 2800 hectares, all owned by older woman whose great grandfather once had Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid stay with him on that estancia when they were running from the law in N. America!