Returning to The Tropical Warmth of Salvador, Bahia, Brazil

On the first of June I flew north from Porto Alegre via Sao Paulo to tropical Salvador. This was my first hot weather in months and a pleasant change from cool and wet. Even in winter Salvador’s days were hot and nights warm.

Flying over Porto Alegre, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil

Porto Alegre and neighbouring Guaíba River from the aeroplane Continue reading

Porto Alegre, Friends and Food in Southern Brazil

The final week of May I spent in Porto Alegre, capital of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil’s southernmost state. From Foz do Iguaçu I took a 21 hour bus ride that, after a vehicle breakdown and wait for replacement, lasted almost 24 hours .

The climate from Foz do Iguaçu to Porto Alegre is subtropical. I’ve never seen as much green foliage as on this journey. At one of the trip’s many stops was a sculpture exhibition by Katielly Lanzini. The models seemed out of place, surrounding a dimly lit concrete bus station stairway.

Chapecó Prefecture, Santa Catarina

Katielly Lanzini dinosaur sculptures at Chapecó Prefecture bus station in Santa Catarina Continue reading

Waterfalls, Birds and a Dam at Foz do Iguaçu, back in Brazil

The 22 May bus trip from Argentina’s Puerto Iguazú, across Fraternity Bridge, through both sets of immigration and to my hostel in Brazil’s Foz do Iguaçu only took half an hour. This contrasts greatly to my Argentinian entry when I waited for seven hours. The towns’ proximities belie their different languages and out of habit I thanked people with “gracias” many times before adjusting to the Portuguese “obrigado”.

Foz do Iguaçu has a significant population of Lebanese descent. When the local Arab restaurant didn’t have individual pieces of baklava, I performed exceptionally, eating a whole tray. The baklava tasted delicious, too.

The next day, Vimia and I caught a suburban bus to Iguaçu National Park, home of Brazil’s Iguassu Falls. The bus also stops at the city’s airport terminal, convenient and cheap for people with air connections. Prior to entering the park, we visited the adjacent Parque das Aves (Bird Park).

Video of a bird mimicking a boy at Parque das Aves. The bird chases the boy and even copies his jump
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Puerto Iguazu: Waterfalls, Rainbows and Butterflies on the Argentinian Side

Puerto Iguazu is the Argentinian gateway to one of the largest and most spectacular waterfall systems in the world: Iguazu. Near Iguazu the borders of Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay join, although the waterfalls lie within Argentina and Brazil, with most occurring in Argentina.

Upon arriving to Puerto Iguazu Airport in May I transferred to a bus for the final journey to the town of the same name. Outside Puerto Iguazu the bus stopped for passengers to pay a town entry fee. Being squeezed on the bus, I left my wallet on my lap instead of placing it in my pocket. Once at the bus terminal I exited the bus, forgetting about my wallet until I arrived to my accommodation. The hostel staff member assisted selflessly, calling the bus company and advising them about the missing wallet. Later, a driver arrived with a wallet. Alas, it was not mine. Luckily my wallet only contained limited cash and a debit card which I blocked.

Iguazu Waterfalls, Argentina

Watching the Iguazu waterfalls from the Argentinian side Continue reading

Returning to Buenos Aires and My First South American Soccer Match

In mid-May I returned to Argentina’s capital Buenos Aires, a city I inhabited in the summer. This time I was lucky enough to spend time with Rebecca and her enthusiastic children Kaye and Robbie in Belgrano. West of Palermo, Belgrano is one of Buenos Aires’ grandest suburbs, full of old mansions and tree-lined streets.

I was also fortunate to catch up with Australian expatriate Pat. Pat is a mad Huracan fan. Huracan is the best Buenos Aires soccer team no one has heard of. If you come to Buenos Aires, don’t ride on the Boca Juniors, Racing Club or River Plate bandwagons, join Huracan’s passionate supporters instead. Pat initiated me into Huracan at a Primera Division match against Unión de Santa Fe.

Huracan Match, Buenos Aires, Argentina

With Pat at Huracan’s Tomás Adolfo Ducó Stadium; note the empty ‘away’ end Continue reading

Córdoba, Argentina’s Second City

From Mendoza in early May I took my most comfortable South American bus ride yet, a nine hour overnight Andesmar “suite 1st class” bus to Córdoba. Córdoba is Argentina’s second largest city (behind Buenos Aires) and with world heritage listed 17th century architecture it has something for tourists.

Santi, who I’d met in Santiago, kindly showed me around the centre, pointing out interesting places. Importantly, Santi also recommended places to eat typical local food including lomito, a South American steak sandwich and locro, Córdoban stew.

Córdoba, Argentina

Lighting features at one of Córdoba’s entertainment areas Continue reading

Thermal Resort and Wine Tour; Fantastic Days in Mendoza, Argentina

Travelling from Santiago to Mendoza in early May took time but was worth it. Famous for its Malbec wine, I experienced two of my best days in the Mendoza region, despite overcast and rainy weather.

On a whim and inspired by a British couple in my hostel, I booked a day trip to the Termas Cacheuta spa resort outside of Mendoza. Another couple on the morning bus were already enjoying the day, drinking from a wine bottle.

Located next to a river in Cacheuta, Luján de Cuyo, Termas Cacheuta features several indoor and outdoor thermal pools of varying temperatures, a cold pool and a sauna. The resort also provides an amazing buffet lunch!

Termas Cacheuta, Mendoza, Argentina

Termas Cacheuta’s lunch buffet contains great meat, vegetables and salad Continue reading

From Santiago, Chile to Mendoza, Argentina: Border Delays, Snow and Beautiful Andes Scenery

I planned to leave Santiago on the 1st of May and take a bus to Mendoza, Argentina. The only problem was the high altitude Andes Mountains border crossing’s exposure to snow storms, landslides and other road-closing events.

On the 1st I caught the metro and eventually found the correct bus station (Santiago has several). There I was told the border was closed. As I had bought my ticket online, I could not change it at the bus station and needed to telephone the website operator for a refund.

The next day the border remained closed.

The border reopened on the 3rd of May so I packed up again and took the metro with Noe and Santiago (the person) who were returning to Cordoba, Argentina. At the bus station we met Aivy, a Lithuanian materials scientist going home via Rio. Aivy had accepted a post-doctorate position in the USA researching adhesives for climbing robots on a project funded by NASA. Together the four of us bought tickets, visited a nearby supermarket and waited to catch our van.

From Santiago, Chile to Mendoza, Argentina

Andes Mountains on the Chilean side Continue reading