Big Water: A Wet Weekend in Iguazú

Warning: This is, without a doubt, the longest post we’ve written yet. There, we told you. Enjoy!

Apologies for the lack of recent updates, but we had to prepare for & enjoy our last big weekend trip planned with CEA to Iguazú Falls! Similarly to our Mendoza post, we’re going to break down the weekend day-by-day. Starting now.

After a 13-hour bus ride Thursday night, we arrived in Posadas, the capital of Misiones province. Everyone woke up enough to switch to a different bus & meet our guide for the weekend Hector. Another 20-minute drive took us to the beautiful Estancia Santa Cecilia where we were met with green grass, fruit trees, & a hot breakfast. From our eating spot, there was a break in the trees where you could even see across the river to Paraguay! While we were still refueling ourselves with mate cocido and little fried tortas, three guys rode up to our tables on horseback. They were introduced as the main gauchos at Santa Cecilia, and they were going to show us how things were done.

We walked on the property through blooming trees & tangled vines back to the corrals where the estancia keeps its main source of income: cows. We got to stand and watch as the cows were herded into smaller corrals & chutes, given their monthly vaccinations, weighed, & then bathed. It was quite a show seeing each one nervously walk up to the edge of the water only to take one more step & be completely submerged in a little cow bath. We got to learn a lot about how the estancia takes care of its livestock & what the employees typically do to keep the business running. Each cow had its own code tagged on its ear so that the estancia could track it all the way to the restaurant where it would (sadly) be consumed!

Speaking of consumption, we got to participate in what, for must of us, was our first Argentine asado! We got led back to our outdoor seating to find tables full of chopped veggies, bean salads, bread, lemonade, and of course, Coca-Cola. Everyone sat & nibbled on fresh tomatoes and bits of chorizo until the main attraction was brought out on a platter from the main house: the biggest slab of meat anyone had ever seen. Apparently the meat started cooking at 6:30 that morning… it was 2pm by the time we sat down. If that wasn’t enough, a full rack of ribs was brought out immediately after. It’s safe to say we were well fed.

After about another hour of hanging around outside & exploring the estancia, we were rounded up again to get back on the bus & head to the Jesuit ruins at San Ignacio Miní. Our guide, Tomás, took us around all of the parts of what used to be a Guaraní village in the 17th century. What was surprising was that the area has only been protected & promoted by the government for the last five years, so there could have been a lot more left of the village had it been given the attention sooner. Nonetheless, it was extremely impressive & a little bit eery to think about the civilization of people that used to live in that area. We also learned that Iguazú means “big water” in the Guaraní language!

We had to drive another four hours before arriving at our hotel in Port Iguazú. Luckily, there was a pretty sunset to watch out of the bus window. We stayed at Hotel Saint George, which was only a 15-minute drive from the waterfalls! At check-in we were handed fruit smoothies, breakfast and dinner were buffet style, the pool was gorgeous (we didn’t use it, but it was still appreciated), and the rooms were quite spacious. Just saying, it’s not a bad idea to check it out if you’ll be in the Iguazú area anytime soon!

Waterfall day! We started bright & early so we could fit in plenty of water watching. We’d rather show you the day through pictures, so the brief explanation is that we walked through two different circuits of falls, went on a boat ride that brought us directly into the mist at the bottom of the falls between Argentina & Brazil, then finished the tour with a train ride to the Garganta del Diablo (translation: Devil’s Throat). If only photography could capture the magnitude and raw awesomeness that these falls contain. We’ll try our best:

Our only plan for our last day in Port Iguazú was to visit a Guaraní community. We got picked up in safari trucks and driven down red dirt roads into the forest and past smiling kids bathing in the river to meet our guide Luís. He showed us the crops that his people use the most and demonstrated how all of their animal traps worked.

Unfortunately, the tribe can no longer migrate to a new area when the supply of animals runs low, so the people have been forced into relying on the townspeople’s supermarkets for a part of their diets. All of the Guaraní children must learn Spanish along with their own language to ensure that they can function in society and continue surviving. This change has introduced diseases into the tribe that they previously did not have, and so they must be visited by a medical practitioner weekly instead of receiving care solely from the tribe’s shaman as in the past.

It seemed like everyone felt a little strange encroaching on these people’s way of life, but it is part of what they do to bring money into the tribe. Some of the children sang songs for us in Gauraní, which you’ll hear in our video. We were told they’re used to visitors and happy to perform. They all did an amazing job! We also got to browse through the artisan goods that some women of the tribe were selling before we left. We won’t give away any surprise gifts we may or may not have bought for people back home!

That concluded our activities for the weekend. Thankfully, we flew back to Buenos Aires rather than enjoying a nearly 20-hour bus ride. In a LAN airplane, no less! (For those of you who don’t know, the three of us got to take a tour of the LAN Chile headquarters last summer.) We don’t have any huge excursions planned in the near future, so we made a promise to ourselves that we’d blog about the cool little things that are coming up in the city. Maddy left for Salta & Jujuy today, so she’ll talk about that after she gets back on Sunday!

If you happen to be a fan of nature, you can cast your vote for the 7 New Wonders of Nature. Do Brazil, Argentina, & Paraguay a favor by voting for Iguazú Falls!

– Alexa, Abi, & Maddy


2 thoughts on “Big Water: A Wet Weekend in Iguazú

  1. Wow, another great trip! I’m so glad you’re getting to see all of these things.
    The falls must be absolutely awesome, but those boats look a little small.
    The music of the Guarani children is really good and works great with the video. That must have been a special treat to see them and interact with the
    community. Thanks for such an interesting post. One of the best.

  2. Pingback: Happy Birthday, Amurica! | it's about argen-time!

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