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Uruguay, Iguazu Falls and Familia en Santa Fe

How quickly time flies...

sunny 67 °F

We are spending these last few weeks running around Argentina to get to everything before we have to leave. In a nutshell Amber arrive in BA on September 27th and we left our apartment on September 30th and traveled to Uruguay and after a week there left for Iguazu falls in Argentina, and now we reside in a wonderful home in Santa Fe at a friend of my aunt’s, acting as part of the family. For those that like more details continue reading…

It was hard to leave our apartment knowing that we would be leaving the comfort of our fantastic apartment for a few weeks of sleeping on buses and in hostels, but it has turned out to be worth it. We first made our way to Puerto Madera where we took a one hour boat ride to Colonia, Uruguay then immediately grabbed our bags once there and boarded our bus to Montivideo. The terminal in Montivideo was great, it had McDonalds and many small food vendors with shops and tons of people wondering around to find their bus. We didn’t have a ticket yet, so we wondered around with all our luggage (and we have a lot!) to find the best deal to get to Punta del Este. We found a bus immediately and jumped on. We arrived in Punta del Este past dark, so no one was in the small town terminal. We finally found the taxi guy coming back from dinner and he took us out to our Hotel, Casapueblo. This is where the frustration begun. We hadn’t eaten in a while because we had to take one bus after the other, there was no time to stop and grab a bite, but we figured the hotel would have something or somewhere nearby to go. NO! The Hotel was SO far from anything and their restaurant closed 2 hours before, so we had to catch a ride from the front desk clerk to the nearby town Maldinado to grab a bite. He was very kind to take us, but we found out later that he got a kick back for taking us to his friends restaurant. Oh well. It was a fantastic, and cheap, parilla with wonderful meat and grilled cheese (no not the sandwich, actual cheese grilled on a grill MMmmmmm). After dinner we knew we would have to go into town to get groceries tomorrow because it was too expensive for cabs to town and restaurants were more expensive in that touristy area. Well that is a whole other adventure that I was not a part of, but can tell you a second hand tale. The next morning I was feeling sicker than I had in a few days, so I decided to sleep while Josh and Amber took off to find a grocery store. The front desk person assured them it was no more than a 10 minute walk along the highway to reach the store, but he was sadly mistaken. It was about a mile from our hotel to the highway alone and then when they started to walk they quickly realized it was not as near as told. They walked for over an hour to reach this self-proclaimed Supermercado, but from what I hear it was not so super. The best part is that after the stocked up on bag after bag of groceries they posted up on the center divider to catch the bus back to our hotel area. Yes, that is how the locals do it but try it with over 12 bags of groceries. They made the bus but had to stand with all the groceries. They made that final mile walk to the hotel with bags in hand. All together it took them 3+ hours to make the trip, and needless to say they were not happy. But we did now have groceries and knew we could just enjoy the resort from that time on.
Thank you to my wonderful Aunt and Uncle for allowing us to trade one of their timeshare weeks for a week in Uruguay. Once we had groceries we got to enjoy the amazing property that was Casapueblo. The hotel is a work of art, literally created by an artist, with huge white walls everywhere you look, blue blue pools and built right over a cliff straight down to the water. The views were unbelievable. From our deck we could see the ocean and the whole coastline of Punta Bellena which stretched for miles and miles. The sunsets were another thing entirely, so beautiful and brilliant. It’s hard to explain. We spent our days by their indoor spa overlooking the ocean, playing in the pool and reading in the sun. I was also able to get a bit of a tan, finally. It was very relaxing, but we knew a full week would be a bit much so we began to make plans to leave for Iguazu falls early. But before we left we wanted to make a trip into Punta del Este to see the famous hand in the sand and walk the famous beaches. Well after another adventure to find a bus and get there we did not regret it. The beaches were pristine with shells of every kind covering the beaches. We stopped in a 24hour parilla for a bite of food and a bit of cervesa, and then decided to find our way back. The next few days were spent like the others, in the sun.

We left for Iguazu Wednesday morning. We knew we had a whole day plus some of travel ahead of us so we mentally prepared ourselves. The front desk called a cab which took us to bus stop along the roadside where we caught our 2 hour bus Montivideo. From Montivideo we brought our next bus and the boat from Colonia to BA. We arrived in BA that evening around 5pm to catch our final bus to Iguazu. When we arrived at the Retiro bus station we bought our tickets and boarded our bus an hour after. The 20 hour bus ride was not as bad as you would think. We purchased the seats that recline flat and had a foot rest that raises your feet up as if you are lying flat. They also included dinner with wine and champagne and breakfast when we woke up in the morning. All together it went by quickly and we arrived in Iguazu around 2pm. When we arrived it was warm and a bit muggy, just perfect weather. We grabbed our bags and headed directly across the street to the Marcopolo hostel where we were staying for the night. The hostel was really nice, clean and included breakfast (always a must when looking for a hostel). Anyway, we decided that even though it was later in the day and the park closed at 6pm, we would go to Iguazu to see part of the falls. It was a 20 min bus ride from our hostel to get to the park and only $8 pesos. When we arrived the sun came out and it was beautiful. Since it was later in the day there were only a handful of people there, so at times we felt like we were the only ones there. We knew we only had time to see one part, so we decided to go to Devils Throat, the place where several falls come together to create a huge caldron of water more powerful than you can ever imagine. We took the small train (reminiscent of Disneyland train) to the farthest part of the park where we walked out over falls and through rainforest to get to the main attraction. Pictures do not do this view justice. The power of the falls are magnificent, the loud rumble of the falls itself commands your respect. We were in awe to say the least. The park was closing so we made our way back to our hostel. The next day we packed up our stuff and stored it with the hostel, so we could go back to the park to see the rest of the park. We made it on the second bus of the day, beating most of the crowds to the park. We made our way to the part we missed the day before and it was even more spectacular. There are multiple walkways over the falls and through jungle that takes you to these fantastic vistas where you see falls from far away and close up. We literally saw every part of the falls. We were above, to the side, even below, getting soaked from the mist. Every vista was as if we were in a calendar. Just gorgeous. Towards the end of our time there we purchased an ecological tour boat ride down the river. We saw a few alligators and turtles but mostly it was just a one hour lazy ride down the river. A good way to end the day. Around 2pm we made our way back to our hotel to catch a bus to Santa Fe to stay my aunt’s friend Ileana and her family for a few days. We, unfortunately, made the mistake of waiting to buy our bus ticket and therefore had to take the only bus available which was not as nice or comfortable as the one to Iguazu and we had a 16 hour ride ahead. It turned out to be ok, but we were happy to get off.

We made it to Santa Fe at 8am on Saturday morning. We were groggy, but were able to gather our things and put ourselves together to meet our host Ileana. I had been in contact with Ileana before and throughout our trip, so I sent her a picture so she knew who to look for, but we didn’t know who we were looking for. As we waited we were taking pictures in true tourista form and Ileana came around the corner and we kind of checked each other out and she said “Amy?!” and so it was, we found each other. She gave us all big hugs and the traditional Argentine beso. We knew we would get along great. We made our way out of the city about 20mins to her beautiful home. They live well with a maid and a two story home. She has two sons, Marrow (26) and Ariel (23) who live at home with her and are very nice and fun. The main language of the house is, of course, Spanish, but Ariel and Ileana speak English. Ileana wants us to learn Spanish so she forces us to speak only Spanish, but so far so good. They put up with our “Como se dice…?” and we try the best we can. Actually, we get a lot of compliments on our Spanish and me on my pronunciation (thanks to living in Cali, I think). Ileana and her sons are perfect hosts, she even gave up her master room for us to stay in.

Since coming here we have felt so at home and decided to extend our stay to Wednesday. Last night we partied with Ariel and his friends. They taught us some drinking games they knew and we taught them one of ours. At about 2am we went to a club called Springfield and danced until 4am (which is really early for Argentines, they stay out till 6 maybe 8am). His friends were awesome and even though most only spoke Spanish we all had a great time together. This morning we slept in, which is normal for Sundays here, and woke up to Asado lunch. Their mother and father had prepared four different types of meat on the BBQ including sausage, blood sausage, steak, and a few other parts of the cow. Wow was it good. It was nice too because Sunday is always family day. The whole family gets together for Asado, I was happy to be a part of it. We had a lazy rest of the day and are staying in tonight despite the many attempts to get us to go out by Marrow and his friends. Tomorrow is Ariel’s birthday, so we will be helping set up all day and partying into the night. We’re excited. I feel blessed to share these moments with this family, we love being in Santa Fe.

Only 10 more days till home…I have mixed feelings of excitement to see my family and friends, and sadness to leave such an amazing place. Can you believe it’s come and gone so fast!?

Posted by JAM2010 21:44 Archived in Argentina Tagged punta santa falls del argentina iguazu uruguay fe este

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