The Beautiful Iguazú Falls in Argentina and Brazil

Well! It is about time I start writing and sharing my experience in this heaven on Earth destination!

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The Iguazú Waterfalls are in the most northern part of Argentina. They mark the border of Brazil and Argentina, but Paraguay and the famous three-way boarder is not too far away. The falls, are unbelievably *insert beautiful word here* and I would recommend anyone to visit there if they have the chance. PSIFX_2015_WEB[1]

I actually flew from Cordoba, Argentina for about 90 dollars. I was giving myself a break from taking buses left and right. I was getting pretty tired of practically living in a bus. So I treated myself and got there in 2 hours versus the 18-20 hour trip it would have been

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I arrived at the airport, bought a small bus ticket to arrive at my hostel, and I arrived without a problem. Arriving in the town was so peaceful and calm. The vegetation drastically changed, because we were entering a more jungle terrain area. The smells and sounds were both different and to be honest they were incredibly inviting if that makes sense.

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I met two nice Porteno lads from Buenos Aires who I shared a common room for sleeping. The room consisted of 10 beds. It was cheap, and it was cool. Literally the only reason to go there is to go to the falls or go to Paraguay, which apparently is just shopping in that area.

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The Next Day -The Falls

I woke up as early as I could. I went outside, bought some food to pack in and eat there to save money, and caught the first bus to the park entrance. The fee for a US citizen was roughly 100 dollars, which is quite a bit yes, but you can spend the whole day there and get your money’s worth.

 

I entered the park, and I also heard it was worth buying some tours, so I bought the waterfalls boat tour, which was another 40 dollars or so, but was also so so so worth it. I had a few hours to kill, so I started walking the trail to see the falls. There were two trails. There was the high trail to see the waterfalls from up top, and the low trail to see them from below. Both were INCREDIBLE. I walked the high trail first, and there was literally NO ONE. I was literally the only one on this trail hovering in the jungle with the most spectacular waterfalls I have seen. Writing this makes me want to go back because it was just too beautiful. When I finished seeing the waterfalls from the top, the trail takes you back into this serene jungle area. It was silent. It was peaceful. I was alone in the jungle (as alone as I ever had been anyway). I could only hear the birds chirping, the animals moving around in the trees, and I was at peace. There was only one issue. MY PHONE CAMERA WASN’T WORKING! 😥

 

SO… As I am walking to go around the second trail, I run into someone I had met at the hostel!! And her camera worked! jaja. So we I accompanied her around the top of the falls again, and we took pictures together. She was so nice. We spent the whole day together and she saved me by taking the pictures and sending me them later.

 

THE TOUR

We then boarded our boat for the waterfall tour. I had to strip to my boxers because they informed us we would be getting wet, and there would be no way I was going to get wet and walk around the park for 8 more hours while it is chilly. So, I did the best I could and stripped and covered my body with a transparent poncho. Woohoo! One of the ladies working there helped me out as well and actually recommended me to do so. ;).

 

The boat ride was amazing. We got to go to The Devil’s Throat, which is an enormous waterfall bordering the Brazilian side. And we also went to the Argentina side and viewed the other set from below, and it was WELL worth it. We also went partially under the waterfalls and got SOAKED. Gracias a dios me quite mi ropa! jaja.

The Lower Trail 

We took a break and ate lunch before doing the second trail. They have these weird monkey raccoons that literally are racoons but look like monkeys and they will eat and take your food. They are adorably annoying. But they are hilarious with their behavior as they sneak around your legs and snatch your belongings running along into the jungle never to be seen again. This also happens with the real monkeys but with phones!  Be careful!

 

The lower trail was just as beautiful allowing us to see different panoramic views of the falls. The lush green vegetation that thrives with the forever pouring falls. It is just a sight that you cannot get used to. It is just awesome. Awesome awesome.

 

We also took a small convey jungle tour through the jungle which was also another highlight. We didn’t see much wildlife, but the jungle was thick! By the time the park had closed, we were getting on a small train to take us out of the park, but man oh man, I would go again and spend every single minute I can there again. I almost didn’t take this side trip, but I am now so thankful that I did!

Thanks for reading! I hope you get a chance to go someday!

Cheers,

Chris

Back to Peru Round Two – What’s new?

I am back!!

My last post was in October, and there is so much to share between then and now.  My last post was about the culture of the famous Argentina Mate. Well, between then and now. I have done quite a few things. I have visited Ecuador, had issues crossing the boarder, suffered a bit with some personal issues, surprised visited my family in Wisconsin for a month, returned to Peru, visited Machu Pichu, Cusco, and other beautiful areas in the region, but I am now back in Peru with a new plan!

I am still teaching English, but I am not going to lie, it is quite tiring and exhausting and there is little reward in teaching for me personally. I do it to basically pay my rent and food which is great for something temporary. I am trying to get my foot in the door in the environmental field. I brought my diploma down here to verify it in the Peruvian system and hopefully will be getting into the actual professional field (nothing against teachers, just teaching English online isn’t my thing nor my professional expertise).

Projects:

  • Working and publishing my book
  • Giving workshops
  • Finding professional experience 
  • Creating better daily routines
  • Self development 

SUB STORIES

  1. Ecuador was pretty! I went to renew my tourist visa (stamp). I was a beach bum..literally a beach bum for a week doing nothing but drinking, surfing, and eating and dancing all night long. That was a nice week even though it was not very sunny. I took a bus to Tumbes, Peru in the north. I crossed the boarder sketchily. I arrived in Guayaquil, Ecuador. Took another bus to Montanita for like 3 hours. There I arrived and there I stayed. I returned with a bus directly from Montanita to Tumbes, Peru, but I had problems at the boarder. They almost didn’t let me back in, but after some talking, they gave me 30 days. WOOH! Long story in a big paragraph.
  2. A surprise visit to the family happened as well. My buddy Jacob picked me up at the airport Chicago. We drove back to his place. We caught up after a year without chatting/seeing each other.  Jacob brought me to my house, and I hid around the corner of my garage while my mother talked to Jacob awkwardly about what he was doing there lol. All of my family ended up being very very surprised and we spent some nice times for the holidays together! It was also so nice to see my dogs! ❤
  3. My trip to Cusco was incredible and I had the best luck! I took a bus for almost 20 hours to the city of Cusco. When I arrived I stayed a hostal for $3.50 per night, so so so cheap! I ate many cheap 5 soles menus (1.50ish) and planned my stay there. I traveled to Pisac, Moray, Salineras, Sacred Valley, Ollantaytambo, walked some train tracks to get to Aguas Calientes, got stuck in a river in a bus, and of course, MACHU PICHU. This trip will be something I will for sure write more on as it was such a beautiful trip. I came back on another bus after zooming up and down a mountain by taxi to catch up to the bus back to Lima. That was another adventure in itself. All in all, you will see a separate post on these stories.

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There is quite a lot for me to do in Lima, but if I do not make it work in the next few months, I have a backup plan that most likely will require me to go back to the States, or maybe perhaps just backpacking throughout South America and teaching English online. That could also be an interesting way as well. Either way, I hope to be writing more to share with you my life and adventures. There really aren’t many dull moments to share with you as I am always planning, always thinking, and always pushing forward down here. I love South America so much, but I am not going to lie, if and when I become more stable, it will become much much more enjoyable all together! Stay tuned my family and friends!

Cheers,

Chris

Argentina Culture – What is Mate?

MATE is embraced by all Argentina. If you wander around the streets and towns of Argentina, you will almost never  go a day without someone drinking mate or carrying their mate and a thermos around, or seeing someone at the park with their friends and family sharing mate. So what the heck is mate with the weird looking ‘cups’ and the weird looking ‘straws’ (bombillas)? I am here to tell you!

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Mate may look like a tea it also might look like marijuana. Well, it is neither of those in all honesty. However, it is funny that I mention this (short story), when I was walking around Lima recently with my mate, I entered a store. A security guard told me I could not bring it with me. I told him, “no, it is okay, it is just ‘Yerba'”……Well, guess what Yerba means in Peru….marijuana… Okay!

You place the yerba (dried mate leaves) in the mate (cup) and then slowly infuse it with hot water. The mate (cup), is traditionally made out of a small gourd, and the bombilla (the straw), is made out of silver, or in most cases nickel silver. This drink is most popular in Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, Parts of southern Chile, and southern parts of Bolivia, and lastly Syria.

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The indigenous people, the Guarani, were said to be the first ones to drink this iconic drink, and was spread by the Tupi.

Preparation

Preparation to Mate is easy! There are various types as well. There are the glass mates, wooden mates, and a few others to mention, but I am going to stick to the regular and glass mates.

To start, you fill your mate about half way.

Next, you tilt your mate to an angle and shake it allowing for the small dust particles to separate and settle away from the bottom, so it does not get sucked up your bombilla (straw). Then without evening it out, you slowly place the mate right side up, and walah, you add hot water and you are ready to go.

*NOTE* Do not stir with the bombilla. This will cause the yerba particles to get stuck in your straw, and it is not a smoothie, sooo don’t do it.

Culture – how to properly drink it

The culture of drinking mate is typically drank in groups. The server pours himself/herself the first round. You sip on it eating cookies as well until you hear the end of the slurping. This means you pour another round, and pass it around the circle/group. You continue this process until you no longer want to drink mate.

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Some Portenos that I met in Iguazu. We shared mate every night. 

Check out that chubby face of mine…wooh, I gained some weight on that trip! 

To end your drinking experience, you say “gracias”. This means thank you, I am done for this experience.

When I first drank mate I said thank you. The server quickly told me not to say that if I still wanted to drink more. Me, from the Midwest say thank you all the time, due to our exceptional manners 😉

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed and learned a little bit about mate. If you have some fun mate experiences, or have tried different types of yerba that you recommend, let me know!

Cheers,

Worldwide Chris