Due to work or class, the rest of the crew departed after a week of snowboarding, leaving me to my own devices. When planning the trip I thought the week alone would be welcomed but the prior weeks were great because of the company and their presence was sorely missed. Though I met some strangers on the slopes and at the hostel, it's not the same sharing your experiences with people where the jokes that have worked all trip don't resonate.
I ended up riding with a New Zealander who works in the U.K. as a chef whom I met at Penthouse 1004 and when she had to leave early to take an international call, I rode with three others from another hostel, 41 Below. A Texan who works at Mammoth, a Brit, and a Michigan native who was a school teacher in my neighborhood back in Brooklyn. Surprisingly there were a number of travelers from Brooklyn. On the morning I was leaving for BsAs, I chatted with two girls from Brooklyn who were looking to move into Fort Greene as I packed.
On my final day on the slopes, the sky as usual was clear, another bluebird day. At 4:30pm when lifts were shutting down, we hiked on over to the far left of the mountain and rode down a small bowl into a tree run before we emerged at the bottom of the Del Bosque lift. From there we took the Del Bosque blue trail, at around 7pm we finally reached the base. By then most of it was closed so I couldn't get the resort stickers that I had promised people (I did give 40 pesos to Chris the fellow Brooklynite to grab 10 for me, let's hope he comes through!). We headed over to Mute where a bunch of old guys were trying to dance and woo the much younger ladies there. The only thing of interest to me was the hot chocolate which was surprisingly good. The place was also sponsored by Honda, their logo was everywhere.
Returning to BsAs, I suffered through the infamous BsAs rush hour traffic to the hostel where I was to leave my luggage in storage before departing that night to the Retiro Bus Station to catch my bus to Puerto Iguazu. The hostel was recommended to me by the three guys I rode with the previous day, the Garden Hostel in San Telmo. Leaving the airport and passing the shanty town by La Boca and then walking through San Telmo away from the touristy area really gave me the 'other view' of BsAs. What I saw was a huge difference from what we were used to in Palermo and Recoleta. The drive to the bus station was awful. BsAs traffic like everything else DOESN'T make sense. In the states, we can attribute traffic to a car collision, construction, lane mergers or the like, but in BsAs the reasons for traffic is the following. People block the box ALL the time, and people don't know how to take side streets. My cab was trying to make it across this intersection to the bus terminal, and was completely blocked by tractor trailers going perpendicular to us. They wouldn't stop at a red either. They would just cut across the grid trying to stay bumper to bumper preventing any other traffic from getting through. When it finally cleared up and we were able to get across, an idiot came from our right got in front of us and then got stuck trying to make a left onto that traffic. Why she didn't let us go straight first before making the left is beyond me. When my cabbie started honking at her and flashing his lights, she had the nerve to get out of the car and yell at my cabbie, smacking his hand too. RIDICULOUS! She was in the wrong and had the nerve to do that... I was speechless. Stupidity knows no bounds.
The Retiro bus station is shadier than the Port Authority Bus Terminal in Manhattan. Did not feel comfortable at all walking through there. The buses were a different story though, I signed up for the most luxurious ride on Via Bariloche. The buses were larger than the ones in the States, two levels with only three seats per row. I was able to lay flat whenever I wanted, the food was great and for those of you who drink, an unlimited amount is available. The ride through Argentina was interesting, I didn't see any huge pastures roaming with cows, but I did see enough of the countryside to realize that much of Argentina still remains undeveloped.
Puerto Iguazu was what I expected, the food was better than Bariloche but didn't approach BsAs standards. A German traveler checked in with me at the Timbó Posada hostel and I stuck with her for the rest of my time at Iguazu because she knew Spanish =T. The location was perfect, just a few minutes from the bus terminal and on the other side of the hostel, just a few minutes to the town center. That afternoon we walked around the town center looking for things to buy, but our shopping was hampered by the insanely long siestas the shop keepers took. We also went to the area where the three countries (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay) meet, took some photos and went on our way. It was weird when while looking at some souvenirs I heard Mandarin being spoken behind me. Turning around I saw an entire tour bus of Chinese people parked by the shops.
The next morning we took one of the first buses to the national park. Our initial introduction to the falls was by truck and raft (we signed up for one of the Jungle Explorer excursions). The raft ride was awesome, but I got soaked. I wish I had placed my Passport and wallet in the waterproof bag, but at least my shoes and socks were in there. Though I didn't get an Iguazu Falls stamp in my Passport, my Passport did get soaked by the water there. To be honest, there isn't much to see. For any future visitors, 5-6 hours is good enough for a visit, unless you want to go to the island and relax at the beach for a bit. We strolled through all the walkways taking the required photos and by 3pm I was headed back to the hostel and then to the bus station.
By Saturday morning I was back in BsAs, dumping my backpack in storage, I walked around for most of the day seeing parts of BsAs we didn't visit during the week we were there. I came across a few markets but didn't see anything of interest. I ended up at Florida where all the memories of our time there two weeks ago came rushing back at me. In the afternoon, I took a train to Palermo and just relaxed in a park waiting for my appetite to kick in so I could enjoy another crocante de lomo at Lelé de Troya. The meal marked the end of my trip. Walking back to the train, I came across a street market and bought two leather messenger bags which didn't leave me with much cash left, just enough to pay the hostel and cab fair. I timed it perfectly, by the time I got back to the hostel I had about 15 minutes to shower and pack before heading to the airport. My experience at the airport wasn't bad, but we did depart late which got me worried about my connection (I only had 55 minutes for my connection). During the first leg, we made up time in the air but still only had less than half an hour to make my connection. Surprisingly both my luggage and I made the connection. LAN comes through again, but the plane they used for the Lima to NYC leg could have been newer. And... as you can imagine, I'm pretty burned out from the trip, back to a NYC state of mind.
Photo Gallery: My photos of Iguazu Falls and Bariloche all mixed in...