You will probably guess from the title of this post that we have spent a lot of time on buses just lately. An incredible 47 of the last 120 hours of our lives have been spent sitting still with nothing but some views, some books and some podcasts (oh, and each other!) for company. We are quite completely bussed out and are extremely excited about the prospect of a couple of days without even seeing one of the damn things!
Things began with an 18 hour ride from Buenos Aires overnight to Puerto Iguazu. We once again paid top dollar for the most reclinable seats – this time on Via Bariloche – in the hope of getting a good nights rest but as it turned out the roads weren’t so good on this route, the seats weren’t as comfortable and the service wasn’t up to our usual standards of luxury. The weather forecast for Iguazu was bad and the rain, having moved in as we drove north during the night, managed to wake me up in a very direct fashion by cascading onto me from the electric panel above my head! As it turned out, the precipitation had been so heavy that the entire length of the bus’ overhead electrics had flooded and a few people started their days in similar fashion.
The rain was incessant, causing rivers on almost every road, often rivers of red mud that had been washed down from nearby hills. We made it to our hostel without too much soaking but the outlook for our proposed trip to the nearby Iguazu Falls was not good.
We decided to take a chance and got up nice and early next morning and took the bus to the national park. It wasn’t raining but there were some ominous looking clouds around so it was on its way. We started by doing a nature trail which took us on a path through the rainforest in the hope of seeing some wildlife. However, by the time we’d been walking for 20 minutes, the rain had begun and there were no beasts to be seen, bar the odd enormous spider sitting on its web suspended from either side of the path! The path led us to a small waterfall which was reasonably unremarkable, given why we were in the park in the first place so we simply turned and walked back. The rain had stopped by now and we did see some coaties, little skunk-like things that apparently get violent when fed.
Walking back to the main part of the park, the bulk of tourists had arrived and we joined them on the free train to get to the main falls, Garganta del Diablo (Devil’s Mouth). We’ve all seen waterfalls before and you’d think ‘seen one, seen em all’ but these are incredible! Water from nearby rivers in Paraguay and Brazil comes together and plunges into an enormous valley from every perceivable angle – there are a couple of huge ones and hundreds of smaller ones, everywhere you look. Having taken the standard photos, we headed off on one of the trails that take you round to view the falls from the other side and at this point the weather began to improve, changing the views as the sun came out along with some wildlife and before long everyone seemed to have a brightly coloured butterfly on their hands or clothes, trying to take close up photos of the artwork on their wings.
We spent most of the day in the park and really enjoyed it. However, we made a mistake and should have booked our bus to Tucuman for that night as we could have made it easily. Instead, we had the rest of the evening and the whole of the next day with absolutely nothing to do. The rain returned overnight and the town had little going for it bar the odd restaurant and Annika managed to visit the local gym so she could sweat a lot in the tropical heat.
After the most boring day of the trip so far, we embarked on our longest bus trip so far. It took 22 hours to get to Tucuman in the north west, and it has to be said that we were both a bit fed up by the time we arrived. We found an old run-down hotel for the night, had some dinner and attempted to sleep on the softest mattress known to mankind.
Annika had found out about a Jesuit Mission nearby which she wanted to see before we went to Cafayate so in the morning we took a local bus to the middle of nowhere. The driver gave us a very odd look when we jumped off between towns and rightly so – the old church was vaguely interesting but had long since been abandoned as a tourist attraction and our only tour guide was a lone duck which wandered through the ruins with us, struggling to explain the history with its limited vocabulary. Returning to town, we were just in time to catch the bus to Cafayate – hoorah, more buses!
We’d been told the journey would take 3 hours but it ended up taking nearly 6 so we had definitely had enough by the time we arrived although the route, winding its way up and through a spectacular valley was fascinating and I caught sight of my first cactii and some llamas. The cactii, around 10 feet tall and usually having one long piece in the middle sticking up a lot higher than the others, looked to me like they’d been running down the hill when the bus had come around the corner when they were forced to stop dead in their tracks to avoid being caught – but then maybe I was delirious by then?!
We are now in Cafayate, a very cute little town which just happens to produce a lot of wine – here we go again!