Where: Iguazú Falls, Argentina
Plate of food: The breakfast buffet at our hotel was a huge affair including tropical fruit, smoked salmon, caramel crepes, and even a diet section which as far as I could tell consisted of apples, turkey, and non-fat yoghurt. The way I felt when I looked at that section of the buffet is strangely the same way I feel about diets in general: nauseated and cranky.
I discovered a traditional section of the buffet full of earthen ware pots with the most delicious smells wafting out of them.
One item was puchero which is a rustic meat stew with as many variations as there are people in Argentina. This one contained tender pieces of beef in a thick gravy with peppers and onions. It was served with a homemade pasta/dumpling dish (very similar to “knepfle“, if that helps at all!). Never have I had a heartier start to my day, or tastier for that matter.
Plus, it went surprisingly well with a Mimosa.
If you can pour yourself a glass of orange juice at a buffet without topping it up with the bubbly conveniently sitting on ice, then you are a better person than I am. I, however, am completely content being lesser than because, guess what, I get a Mimosa out of this deal.
The Best: Those gosh-darn waterfalls. Criminy, they will take your breath away.
Iguazú Falls are shared by Brazil and Argentina. They span 3km and are split into many drops – the most dramatic being The Devil’s Throat (there could be no better name, could there?).
There was something so powerful and exhilirating about walking through dense jungle with butterflies and birds flitting around, hearing the rush of water get louder, until finally you are standing on the edge of a thundering waterfall with spray on your face and your heart in your throat.
It was one of the most beautiful sights I have ever laid eyes on. Truly magical.
Story that needs to be told: I feel as though this trip highlighted a few reasons why I should not be dispensing travel tips…
Firstly, we functioned in our own time zone for the majority of our trip. I don’t mean that we ditched our watches and consciously decided it’s “holiday time”, I mean that 4 adults all remained totally unaware of the fact that we had crossed into another time zone.
This had a number of repercussions: we were confounded as to why the dining room was never open on time, we marveled at how quiet the breakfast buffet was, and we cursed the tardiness of the jungle train with its complete disregard for the schedule.
It was on our final day that the time warp was corrected, and days of mysteries were suddenly solved: “Oh! So, that’s why….”
Secondly, we naively had no Argentinian pesos on us when we arrived at the national park gates…in our hideous rental van…in the middle of the night. The guards helpfully directed us to a cash machine at the main gates. But when they said ‘cash machine’ they meant a small windowless hut on the edge of a dense, looming jungle. Not surprisingly it was not working because, well, that whole JUNGLE thing.
We were then led to the “commercial hub” of the park where there are small shops and restaurants, and supposedly access to another cash machine.
I will tell you this: there are fewer things more butt-clenchingly fearsome than your husband and your father-in-law walking off into the darkness of a deserted national park with two armed guards.
They were gone a long time. Long enough for me to listen to the entire nocturnal repetoire of the jungle creatures. Long enough that the kidlets started softly snoring. Long enough that I decided pesos were the LEAST of our worries.
And, then, out of a darkness so deep it looked tangible, came our men and the guards. Breathe a sigh of relief with me.
You know, come to think of it, maybe they weren’t gone so long after all….we cannot be relied upon for proper time keeping.
“Adventure is worthwhile.” – Aristotle