Archive for the ‘Argentina’ Category

The AmericasI have travelled the length and bredth of the Americas since I started this trip back in December, but the time has come for me to move on.

It also means that I will no longer need to keep butchering the Spanish language that I have learned to some degree as I have moved south from the USA.

There have certainly been plenty of highs as well as a few lows to keep me grounded on the road, but as ever it is time to move on because the planet has so many more waves on offer for me to enjoy along the rest of this trip.

Las OlasRather fittingly I saw this road sign next to the pizza place on my last night in Chile.

It translates to The Waves, which is an odd name for a road if you ask me, but the sign was pointing westward towards the east and that is exactly where I am going.

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Chile Flag

Chile is the final country of my American odyssey. It is 3000 miles long and never more than 200 miles wide.

It stretches from Peru all the way down to sharing Patagonia with Argentina (although sadly not the Welsh speaking areas which I would love to have seen on this trip.)

Chile Map

It’s recent history is dominated by Augusto Pinochet who was the leader of the military junta who doesn’t seem to have had the best interests of his country’s population at heart.

Far more entertaining however is the wonderfully named Bernardo O’Higgins Riquelme the Chilean independence leader who is considered one of the country’s founding fathers. He was the first holder of leader of a fully independent Chilean state. O’Higgins was of Spanish and Irish ancestry.  

150 foot waveAll this is wonderful stuff but we all know why I am here.

This picture of two guys managing to catch a 150 foot wave off the Pacific coast of Chile was taken earlier this year.

I’m not sure I want to be out seas quite that big, but think you would be walking on air after bagging such a monster. We will see what I am offered.

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the-andesFlying from Brazil to my next stop in Peru I have to cross the longest mountain range in the world, the Andes. 

They are over 4,000 miles long and extend through seven South American countries: Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Venezuela.

The Andes range is the world’s highest mountain range outside of Asia and I have learnt that the peak of Chimborazo in the Ecuadorean Andes is actually farther from centre of the Earth than any other location on the planet’s surface, due to the equatorial bulge resulting from its rotation.

AliveIn October 1972 a plane carrying a rugby team from Uruguay to Chile crashed in the Andes. The survivors had to fend for themselves amidst the freezing weather at altitude with a very limited supply of food, after the search and rescue operation for them was called off. Only16 of the 45 on board actually survived, and they had to resort to eating the flesh of their team mates who had died to do so.

It is common knowledge that rugby clubs foreign tours can get a little out of hand, but this took things to a whole new level!

The movie Alive told the story of these events, but I am hoping not to have anything similar happen on my own flight. The plane seems to be full of Japanese tourists, most of whom are pensioners. I doubt they would feed a big lump like myself for long! 

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Iguacu Falls

The Iguazu Falls, the Iguazú Falls, the Iguassu Falls or even the Iguaçu Falls (depending on where you come from) are the waterfalls of the Iguazu River on the border of the Brazilian state of Paraná and the Argentine province of Misiones.

The falls divide the river into the upper and lower Iguazu, and are the main reason that I came to the Iguacu National Park. My guide book described them as making Niagara Falls look like a mere trickle.

The Iguazu River flows through Brazil for most of its course. Below its confluence with the San Antonio River, the Iguazu River forms the boundary between Argentina and Brazil. 

IMAG0125Thanks to Panamanian customs seeing Argentina from across the other side of the river is as close as I will get to that huge country.

It is a shame because all the Argentinians I have met on this trip have been fantastic people and few have anything like as much animosity towards the UK as their Prime Minister Cristina Fernández de Kirchner would have us all believe.

IMAG0154There are developments to allow tourists as close as possible to the falls themselves on both sides of the river.

This walkway (that I really have no idea how one would go about building) sticks out right into the middle of the falls from the Brazilian side. 

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As you can see, you get drenched going out along the walkway and the down pressure of all the water going over the falls creates so much wind that the spray is driven into you and soaks you in seconds.

The falls which actaully compromise over 270 separate waterfalls stretching over 3km are breathtaking. 

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On the Brazilian side this is the last place to get close to the falls but you can almost stick your hand into the torrent of water.

I took some video while I was there which you can check out here using the link below:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=97Qo8ctWnmk

I can admit to not noticing the rather menacing spiders lurking above me whilst filming! 

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I spent an entire afternoon just marvelling at the power of this place which my pictures will never do justice to.

It was awesome.

Nuff said!

IMAG0131Any foolish notions of bombing in were quickly set packing you would not even last seconds in the water, with or without surfboard!

The only other thing to report was this amusing sign.

I didn’t know banisters could drive!

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JaguarI left the coast because I was flying down to Foz De Iguacu in Brazil to check out the Iguacu National Park.

It is a vast nature reserve extending 225 thousand hectares into both Brazil and Argentina that was set up in the 1930s to protect the local fauna and flora.

Caiman

It is home to more than fifty species of wild cats including pumas, jaguars and ocelots

The River Iguacu that flows through the middle of the park is home to cayman, and represents the border between Argentina and Brazil.Toucan

There are also countless birds including many eagles and toucans such as the one I spotted here.

In the park there are also a huge number of deer, monkeys, and a several very poisonous snakes and spiders. DCIM100GOPRO

However the things that I had the most contact with are these little fluffy things called coatis.

Don’t let their appearance deceive you though, they have very sharp clawws and have long sinced recognised that carrier bags carried by tourists are a potential source of easy food.

DCIM100GOPROThroughout the day I saw several people fighting them off after the coati had crept up on their purchases from the souvenir shop unnoticed.

They would immediately set about ripping any packaging to pieces.

To try and minimise the ongoing assaults the national park have put up signs all over the park asking you not to feed the animals.

However and I checked this several times, nowhere did it say that you were not allowed to get them drunk!

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DCIM100GOPROJulia (which would be pronounced Hulia back in the UK) is from Argentina. She works in Mexico City for an Argentinian fashion company who are trying to expand, and she is tasked with turning around their new store there. She is in Acapulco on her own, enjoying her day off and trying to see a bit more of Mexico during her time here.

After our turtle encounter, which Julia told me she had initially thought was a dead sea-lion, we get on famously over a beer and get to know one another. However I am surprised that she is completely unaware of the world famous cliff divers here in Acapulco and tell her she really must see them if nothing else while here. I invite her for join me for dinner at my hotel where she can do so, and am very pleased when she accepts, because if I have one complaint about this trip it is that I have been severely lacking in female company so far.

We agree to meet later at my hotel, and after being taught how to kiss like an Argentinian I rush into town to sort out the shopping I had originally planned for today. It takes longer to find the things I am looking for and then I get stuck in such a bad traffic jam that I am almost late for our date. However Julia is also caught by the same traffic and thankfully doesn’t arrive until after I have had to time to make myself more presentable.

Cliff SunsetAfter enjoying another of the amzing sunsets here, we go down to dinner where I show off by pointing out Jupiter which has been visible in the night sky ever since Hawaii. Julia gets to enjoy the Mexican traditional show laid on by the hotel, and is as amazed as I was by the cliff divers’ acrobatic performance.

Me and JuliaWe share a lovely bottle of wine over our meal and even navigate a conversation on Las Malvinas or The Falkland Islands, depending on where you live, without going to war.

We are looked after by the hotel staff, who took this photo of us with the cliffs in the background.

We have a wonderful night together, but Julia has to be back in Mexico City for work and I need to push on myself so I make sure she gets home in a cab. One day Julia hopes to visit the UK and I hope she does. After I get back of course!

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