Monday, August 16, 2010

Iguazú Falls y Provincia de Misiones

Hola friends & family!
I hope everything is going well for you. Things are going better here for me, and so I'm glad you won't have to read a blog where something goes wrong.

Anyway, this weekend CEA took us to Iguazú Falls (las Cataratas del Iguazú, if you'd like to know the Spanish), for 3 days. We left on Thursday - I skipped my tango class to run home and get my bug spray and go to the bus station, so it was a shortened day and I enjoyed that. We took a bus from Buenos Aires to the city Posadas, which is the capital of the region Misiones. Misiones is north of the city and is wedged in between Brazil and Paraguay, so it SHOULD have been warm, but while we were busing (13 hours) it rained and cooled off the weather there by 20 degrees. I was not the happiest camper about that one...
But we arrived in Posadas and our first stop was the Ruins of San Ignacio which is a Jesuit Mission for the Guaraní people, who are native to Argentina. The mission was especially interesting because on Thursday I learned about missions in my Gender in Latin America class, so I had a little bit of a historical background, but of course I learned more there. It's also crazy because I watched a suggested movie (The Mission with Robert DiNero), and I thought they exaggerated the size of the mission in the movie, but they definitely did not. The parts that were left of the mission - they've started to rebuild and now 7 missions in the area are UNESCO World Heritage Sites and are fully protected - were massive, but there were not remnants of houses that the Guaraní people used to live in, so it used to be much bigger than it appears now.

After the las Ruinas de San Ignacio we went to a ranch to have lunch - traditional Argentine asado (barbecue). This ranch - estancia - had produced tea, mate (a traditional type of Argentine tea), and pine. So after we ate lunch we were able to see how they prepared the pine and what they use it to build/sell, and how they try the mate leaves for preparation to drink. It was really interesting, but I don't know how Argentinians who work in the mate preparation process can still like mate if they're around it all day - but they do! I'm still not a fan of it, but that's okay, I've come to the realization that I'm never going to be Argentine. The estancia also had a pool, a tennis court, etc., but it was a really cold day (50ish degrees) so the majority of us stayed clustered around the fire and the food.

The next day we woke up early and headed to Iguazú Falls. It was spectacular. Beyond words. I took so many pictures, and yet none of them do any justice to the sight. The Falls are the widest in the world, and they're on the border with Argentina and Brazil. From Argentina's side you can go really close to the waterfalls, and visit all different parts of them, but from Brazil's side you get the panoramic view of the falls (which we didn't get to see). We started by visiting the biggest one. It's called Garganta del Diablo, which means Throat of the Devil. It's so loud, and as you're walking towards it you can hear it and see the mist from it rising into the sky - long before you ever see the actual waterfall. In total we walked about 8km at Iguazú, and it didn't ever feel that bad. It was really crowded, but I can't imagine what it would be like had the day been really nice! There are walkways built to so many different waterfalls, and it makes it really easy to see all of them.
After lunch, 6 or 7 of us elected to go on a boat ride to the falls. It allows you to actually get completely drenched by the falls, and it was totally worth it. I didn't have the best seat in the house view-wise, but I did get completely soaked, so it was great!

I was so tired after walking around all day, and I slept like a baby that night. You can ask Jen, she woke me up because I was snoring while her and Sydney (my Iguazú roommates in the hotel) were trying to watch a movie! Haha.

On the third day we went to a Guaraní village and learned about how the indigenous people used to survived before colonization and modernization. Now, they still live together, but they've had to open their community to tourists and travelers alike to try and survive. Our guide explained to us the importance of the naming process, and how the shaman of the village would decide what the baby was destined to do when he was older. He also showed us what their houses used to look like and explained to us all of their trapping methods from when they used to survive off hunting. After a group of children sang songs to us, and we were able to buy handmade goods that each family makes to help support themselves. It felt very touristy, and it's really sad that they have to exploit their lives like that in order to survive today, but it was also really interesting to imagine what life had to have been like.
After the village we were able to walk around Puerto Iguazú (the town) and get lunch until it was time to leave. As it was the day we had to fly back to Buenos Aires, it decided to be nice and warm. I got to sit by the pool of the hotel, but only for a few moments...

Now I'm back in the big, bad city, and preparing for school tomorrow. We had school off today because it was el Día de San Martin, a national holiday, and it was nice to come back from the trip and still have a break. I slept in and went and saw Inception (El Origen, here) with Jen and Sydney. We walked around a little bit, but I'm not feeling well anymore, so I came back to relax. It probably has something to do with going under the waterfall in shorts and a raincoat, but I'm not 100% positive about that... (I would have done it anyway!)

Antes de mi viaje en barco

Alas, I am going to do some homework and such. I still have the house to myself because my family is away for the long weekend and should be returning any second, and my roommate is arriving tonight from Cordoba.

Hasta luego, ¡chau!

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