Wow. What a weekend.
Our odyssey started on Thursday evening, when we piled into a huge two-level bus for our 12-hour overnight trip to the estancia (ranch) where we would spend the day on Friday. We didn’t get to see much for scenery that night—by the time we were completely outside city limits it was too dark to see much, and at about midnight I hunkered down in my seat and went to sleep. At about 5:30 Friday morning I woke up in time to watch the sun rise, lighting up the mist hovering over tiny creeks that snaked through the green fields…and then promptly fell back asleep. We were all woken at 7 a.m. sharp with a showing of the movie Priest—which, for those of you who don’t know, is a vampire sci-fi/action/horror movie and is therefore pretty weighty/gory/awful stuff to wake up to—and a small packaged Argentine breakfast. This consisted of salty crackers, a pat of jam, sweet crackers, an alfajor, and coffee.
(What, you may ask, is an alfajor? Have I really not told you? Ohhh, you are in for a treat. An alfajor is a dessert of Arabic origin that is now considered a staple of Argentine food and culture. It is composed of two cookies—commonly shortbread or biscuit texture, but sometimes softer—sandwiched together with some kind of sweet filling, which is usually dulce de leche but can also be mousse or jam of any flavor. Sometimes the entire shebang is then dipped in chocolate or coated with a powdered-sugar glaze. There are as many varieties as you can imagine, they are delicious, and they are everywhere!)
After a quick stop at about 10 in the city of Posadas (in the province of Misiones) to stretch our legs and switch buses, we were shuttled off to an estancia called Santa Cecilia. What an oasis! After hours and hours on the bus, we were so excited to be turned loose to run around and explore. Some people started a pickup game of soccer/fútbol, others headed straight for the pool (!), and others, like myself, just shambled around aimlessly enjoying the fresh air and all the new sights.
After lunch (mmmm delicious asado) we got to watch a demonstration of gauchos (similar to cowboys) at work!
We watched a gaucho artificially inseminate a cow (no pictures of that, sorry), check the pregnancy status of a handful of other cows, administer anti-parasite medication, and ear-tag a group of young cows. This involved herding the cows one by one into a narrow wooden pen and trapping them in place with wooden vices at the neck and hindquarters (see picture below).
After lazing around in the sun for a little while longer, we packed up and grudgingly piled into the bus again for a short trip to our hotel. Short. Hah! Two hours later (three? it all runs together), we descended on the Orquídeas Hotel in a sweaty, sun-baked, starving horde, and all was right with the world as we devoured dinner and fell into bed.
Saturday morning I woke up with a little stomachache which was no doubt my own fault—too much rich food and too much sun—but there was no way I was staying behind while the rest of my program went to Iguazú Falls. It was sprinkling as we pulled up to the park, and shortly after we entered, the light drizzle turned into pouring rain that did not let up once throughout the day. I guess that’s to be expected in a rainforest 😉 We walked 5 miles that day, along slippery metal catwalks through the rainforest and over some of the most beautiful waterfalls in the world. I had to stop and remind myself several times that yes, this was real life.
Unfortunately I don’t have any pictures of the biggest waterfall, La Garganta del Diablo (The Devil’s Throat)—it was raining way too hard to take out my camera. All in all, it was a fantastic experience and completely worth getting soaked to the bone for. I have never been so glad for a hot shower at the end of the day in all my life!
On Sunday we were supposed to visit a Guaraní reserve, but because of the huge amount of rain the previous day our excursion was cancelled. Instead, I took the bus in to Puerto de Iguazú with a couple of girlfriends to have lunch and wander around town—a perfect low-key way to wrap up the trip. A short two-hour flight on Sunday evening brought us back into Buenos Aires, completely worn out and ready for our own beds.
An unforgettable trip, to be sure! (Also an unforgivably long post—did you make it through the whole thing?! I’m impressed!) I’m so glad to have had this opportunity.
All for now!