The plan was, leave Rio De Janeiro and go to Iguazu Falls (on the border with Argentina and Paraguay). Simple! Wrong. We left Rio and boarded a fairly disgusting 24 hour bus to Foz do Igucu (Brazil side) which is the border town. There is very little to do in Foz do Igucu except this world famous waterfall. There were pictures of waterfalls everywhere. It should be easy to find. Apparently not. We asked so many people where to find it but alas no one knew. To this day, how no one could point us in the right direction baffles me. The town is built around tourism for this bloody waterfall!
We jumped on a bus from the bus station that we were told would take us to the waterfall. After about 2 hours riding around on this bus, we arrived back at the same bus station we left 2 hours previous. Brilliant. The bus ride has a television which was pretty entertaining. However, this got very annoying when the video kept looping. It was a 15 minute video that was on loop. I will never be able to listen to Avril Lavigne’s “What The Hell” ever again. I think I heard it six thousand times on that bus ride. Upon arrival back to the bus station, we had a new plan. I would like to think that we researched and spoke to people about what alternative bus to take and we chose carefully but I am pretty sure we jumped on a random bus. We assumed (big mistake) that this bus would take us to the city centre and we could plot our way to the waterfall from there. Perfect plan. Nothing can do wrong.
Our spirit was broken after the failed bus ride. My love for Avril Lavigne was dwindling. We all sat on the bus looking out the window in silence. There were two white girls at the back of the bus who were obviously going to the waterfall and just by having a map, they already more prepared than us. I decided that when they got off, we will follow them. I kept this plan to myself as I was too tired to express myself to the girls. The bus continued along and I watched us slowly leave behind buildings and approach more rural areas. I turned around to spot that the two other tourists have gone. They must have gotten off along the way. Now, this should have been where I worried about where they have gone and more importantly where we were going. I was concerned but continued to stare out the window. I noticed as I stared out the window a shopping centre called “Paraguay Shopping”. Now, I am sure that the penny has dropped to you where we are but in South America, they name a lot of streets and plaza’s after other countries. For instance, the park that I run around is called “Uruguay”. I regularly run around Uruguay five times. That sounds pretty bad ass. I still just sit and stare out the window ignoring the supermarket. Then, I see a flag that is very similar to the Paraguayan flag before finally seeing the Paraguayan flag and words “Paraguayan Policia” written on the jacket of a police officer.
Somehow this local bus crossed a border and we were in Paraguay. Crossing from Brazil to Paraguay is piss easy but harder on the way back. No border control to get into Paraguay but we were grilled getting back into Brazil. In disbelief, we jumped off the bus and asked where this bloody waterfall was. The directions that we were given made absolutely no sense and completely different to everything that we were originally told. We gave up and said we would see Iguazu falls from the Argentinean side. The falls border Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay (apparently). What do you do when you spend a small fortune and several hours on shitty buses to end up exactly where you started?
Go to MacDonalds and order everything. EVERYTHING. We stuffed our faces and headed back to the bus station where we waited around for a few hours for our bus to Asuncion and go back to Paraguay. You may be wondering when we entered Paraguay, why not just stay there and travel around? Unfortunately our bags were back in the Brazilian bus station. EL COMPLICADO EH?
Very rarely in your life will you hear about people entering a country by accident. If I am honest, I was not that excited to see the falls. I am not sure why but I assumed it would not be nearly as impressive as Niagra falls. I was mistaken.
There is not an awful lot to do in the town of Puerto Iguzua (Oh, this is in Argentina btw). It is pretty much just a place to see the falls. We went to an Italian restaurant one of the nights and it was easily one of the finest meals I have ever had. This is a rare thing to say whilst travelling through South America as everything is so plain. Rice and chicken. However, I fell madly in love with rice and chicken during the trip. More on that fascinating development later!
For any boys and girls reading this travelling to Puerto Iguazu, the restaurant is on the main street and it is called “La Mamma”. My god. Thank me afterwards.
I had never heard of the falls before I stepped onto the continent and actually opened my Lonely Planet. It may be very well known and I may be an uncultured swine. Who knows? Would you like a fact about Iguazu Falls? Ah yeah. Sure you do!
THERE ARE 275 DROPS AND THE BIGGEST IS 269 FEET
Wow! 275 drops! Hate to fall down one of them, eh? Notice that I am interacting with the reader. Writing tip for all you aspiring travel writers. Another tip is learning grammar and how to spell. I am yet to get past the interaction part.
The falls were pretty sensational. I found them far more impressive than Niagra falls. Not only for the sheer size but the amount of them. There are so many, like. I always find writing about beautiful things difficult because…well….I suck at writing. So, I shall say that the waterfalls were incredibly beautiful, inspiring and I shed a tear from the beauty. I learnt that while at the falls that people who have seen this particular waterfall become better and more interesting than those who have not.
What is the opposite of beautiful and inspiring? Yes. You guessed it. An elderly woman shitting herself. I suppose some may find it inspiring. As we were Q-ing to enter the park (the falls are in a national park). My travel partners and I were chatting away, the girls most likely laughing at something hilarious I said. We detect a smell. It smelt like shit. Literally, shit. It could not have been shit though. The national park is in a relatively rural part of Argentina so I foolishly assumed it was from a cow. Not from an old woman.
I think that is a safe assumption. Emma then noticed an old lady with a stained behind and dripping from her trousers. Now, I never asked why Emma was checking out this ladies behind as we had a more pressing issue at the time. A mixture of laughter and tears ensued. What would you do if you were in that situation? Your friend shits themselves and its going to be embarrassing to tell them but on a group tour? Horrific stuff. It was a full tour of elderly people so maybe they are all used to shitting themselves. Maybe this is socially acceptable at that age. If so, I look forward to retirement. Shitting my pants around the world.
We saw the old girl later on in the park with her jumper wrapped around her waist. Covering her backside. Well played, Granny.
After a beautiful day of watching Waterfalls and speculating about the elderly and their toilet habits, it was time to head towards our next destination. Beautiful Buenos Aires. Oh hell yes. Our trio would become a 5 piece as two more friends were joining the crew.
We booked our bus to Buenos Aires from Puerto Iguazu. Simple stuff, eh? Just jump on a bus and fly down to BA. Of course not. Of course not. Not for us anyway. The bus station was just down the road from our hostel (easily walking distance). The woman we bought the ticket off said there would be a van picking us up and bringing us to the bus station. Confused, we tried to explain how we were within walking distance but she insisted. Grand.
We are sitting by the pool catching some rays when a guy from our hostel says our lift is outside. Wonderful. We walk out the front to see a woman in a mini van. This woman dropped her children to football practice moments before picking us up, I am sure of it. We laughed and in typical style, just jumped in the car. Not questioning anything.
USEFUL TRAVELLING TIP – maybe ask a few questions once in a while. The cheapest option is the cheapest option for a reason.
The mini van drove past the bus station. I sat in the front of the car, watching the bus station vanish into the distance. We then approached border control. “Oh god. We are leaving Argentina”. Were we going to accidentally end up in Paraguay again?! I asked the soccer mom where we were going. She smiled and said “Brazil”.
Note – We are heading to Buenos Aires which is the capital of Argentina. Argentina is a different country than Brazil. Brazil, being the country we were heading to.
We entered Brazil. Got our exit stamp for Argentina and our entry stamp for Brazil. The woman than left us at the border saying that the bus will be along within the next hour.
There was a genuine fear that we got horribly ripped off and that there was no bus. We did buy it from a desk in the bus station. It should have been legit. We were waiting for this potentially mythical bus for 5 hours. Not “within the next hour”. This is a pretty common theme in South America. It sounds like a pain but you really grow accustomed to it. It actually becomes a huge treat when you leave or arrive anywhere on time.
We see our bus pull up in the distance. Hooray! Our three sweaty Irish heroes are saved. The bus has no record of us. Our names are not on the list.
We somehow managed to get onto the bus. I am not entirely sure how but some very friendly Brazilian helped us. I think the girls looking like they were on the verge of crying also assisted. We boarded the bus. It smelled like death. It was supposed to be a 16 hour journey but turned into a 28 hour journey but….South America.
So, there you have it. That was a nice instalment. I was hoping these blogs to be a handy reference for other travellers. Lets face it, it really isn’t. In a post containing one of the most popular and beautiful sites in South America, I seemed to focus on an elderly woman soiling herself.