Friday, March 5, 2010

Back in the Homeland

Honestly, if you had told me 3 months ago that I would be this happy to be back in Argentina, I would have laughed in your face. I was so excited to get out and do something different at the time. Now I´ve had this incredible trip, have experienced so many beautiful and different things, and frankly, it feels so good to be back in a country I know. Argentina might be insane and disorganized and have a billion problems, but it´s also a country that is a part of me. I settled here for a long and important part of my life, and it makes me laugh how crossing that border from Brasil back here made me smile, because I really did feel like I´d come home. And I´m not even in Buenos Aires!

No, I´m in Iguazu! And it is as good as I´d hoped. After a 15 hour bus ride from Florianopolis, I arrived on the Brasilian side of Iguazu arund 8:30 this morning. It took me 3.5 hours to get from there to my hostel on the Argentine side, as of course they make everything as complicated and disorganized as possible. First I had to buy a bus ticket for tomorrow to Cordoba, but naturally they only accept cash, and the only 2 banks in the entire town each had lines for their one worknig ATM that had about 40-50 people in them, so I waited for over an hour in the hot sun to get cash. Then I took one bus from the central bus terminal to another terminal. Then I took a bus to the Brasilian border, where I had to get off an get a stamp from customs to leave Brasil. The bus had left so I had to wait for another, which I then had to take to the Argentine border to get an entry stamp and visa. Then I got back on the bus, got to the Argentine side´s terminal, and then got another bus to the hostel. Confused? Yeah, me too. Anyway, I made it.

Oh, but the best thing happened! So Argentina apparently has finally gotten their act together and is now officially charging a US $131 visa fee (good for 10 years) upon entry into the country. They´ve been talking about doing this since like January of 2009, but in true Argentine style, it appears the guy who processes the paperwork fell asleep. Anyway, he finally woke up. Not sure which countries this effects, but it´s definitely for Americans. I found this out from several travelers along the way who´d had to pay the fee upon entry, and was quite unpleasantly surprised, as I´ve been entering for free for the past year. I don´t want to suddenly pay now, after so long! But then a beautiful thing happened-- the guy at customs never asked me for any money! And naturally I didn´t offer any. Not sure why or how this fluke happened, but I´m not asking questions. $131 saved, yay.

Anyway I arrived at the hostel in time to throw my things down and head over to the falls for a half day. I hopped on yet another bus, and afte paying my AR$85 entry fee, spent about 3 hours at Iguazu Falls today. They did not disappoint! They are just as magnificent as described! I walked/ trained out to Garganta del Diablo Devil´s Throat), which is the biggest and most impressive area of the falls, where water is just rushing everywhere from such icredible heights, and you just cannot believe your eyes or your ears. I also took walks to some of the smaller falls, which are all also HUGE. And every single one of them had its own rainbow. It was simply stunning, magical. I can´t wait to go back again tomorrow morning (for an additional AR$45, but who´s counting?) and take a boat ride under the falls!!

Once again, stupid blogspot won't upload my cool video of the water at Garganta del Diablo (maybe when I get back to the 1st world, these problems will just melt away), so here's some pictures instead:

After spending tomorrow morning and early afternoon enjoying the falls again, I will be hopping on a 21 hour bus to Cordoba, a city I´ve been meaning to visit forever and never did. And the best part is, my dear friend Claire is meeting me there! Colo reunion! I absolutely cannot wait. We´ll check out Cordoba and Rosario together and then head back to Buenos Aires probably by next weekend. I´m disturbingly stoked about it. I don´t even have a house of my own when I get there, and yet I still feel like I´m on my way home. :-)


Caroline said...

erica! it's caroline. i love love LOVE reading your blog. just pqs about the entrance fee - you don't have to pay it unless you fly into far as i've heard anyway. random and kind of stupid on part of the argentines if you ask me, gotta love em, but good for anyone who wants to bus into the country! hope to see you once you're back stateside :)

Hi, I'm Erica. said...

caroline!!! oooh so nice to see you're reading and commenting, yay! welcome back to the states dude. so yes, i recently heard the same thing, that you only have to pay the visa fee when entering by plane to buenos aires. ridiculous, but i guess argentina can only handle organizing this bit by bit. jajaja! typical. anyhoo, i'll be back in the states in a couple weeks and will of course see you. not sure exaccccctly when, but we'll make it happen. xo