I almost missed out on Puerto Iguazu. While I usually prefer to go out and explore, I was in the most luxurious hostel in town. I was surrounded with funny people, had hours-long conversations, and enjoyed the best pool in town under an incredible sunset, surrounded by trees and flowers.
Why would I ever want to leave?
Of course, I wanted to go out and see the Iguazu Falls, my sole reason for postponing my arrival to Bariloche’s snow. Yet other than that, I could have stayed in the hostel for a really, really long time.
Except there was a little challenge – my suitcase got torn. I brought an old suitcase and squeezed in clothes for both winter and summer. A few days into the trip, I flew from Buenos Aires to Puerto Iguazu, checking my suitcase in, momentarily fixed by band-aids.
Shockingly – it survived the flight untouched, yet this was no way to continue.
So, after seeing exotic birds and meeting a five-star chef on the Brazilian side of the falls, I returned to Argentina in search of a suitcase. My short time in town was precious, and I ended up wishing I explored it some more.
Here are some of my favorite sights from Puerto Iguazu:
I met incredible people from around Argentina and around the world both in the hostel and in the Iguazu Falls park. They enriched my trip big time, and let me drink my first-ever mate, Argentina’s national drink.
Once I stepped into the town itself, I noticed what I knew I’d notice – people looked different. So close to the border, people looked similar to those featured in travelers’ photos from Bolivia. I knew I wouldn’t be reaching Bolivia this time, and I was excited by the diversity. It was perhaps the first time in my life when I was the one who looked different than anyone else, and it was an interesting experience.
I wanted to take their pictures too, yet, imagining how I would feel if someone took my photo on the street or on the bus, I ended up stopping myself.
I guess connecting with people and asking for permission is a better way to go. I hope to stay longer next time and get the chance – more for the connection than for the picture opportunities, and this is coming from someone who’s got witnesses of her photo addictions.
Puerto Iguazu is anything but the most glamorous town you’ll visit. Having just come from New York and Buenos Aires, the difference was clear. Yet if you stop comparing, you’ll find the beauty.
Puerto Iguazu is colorful – and it’s colorful in a pretty Christmasy way.
Lush green is everywhere, as rain showers year-long in this summerly-considered region. It’s sunny here all the time, it seems, yet it can rain pretty much any day you visit. Trees are blooming wherever you look, some lush grass can be seen separating some parts of the road.
Many structures and some pavements are colored in a reddish tone. I don’t know if you noticed from the colors on this blog, but I think of red as the color of passion.
Different forms of art are sold in town. I’m not really sure whether it’s handmade or even locally-made, or only commercial items pretending authenticity.
I made a choice before the trip to focus on the experience, not on material possessions, so I stayed away from everything that seemed like souvenirs. It was still fun to see them as I walked by the street. They could be real, you know.
Besides the souvenir-looking art, I also noticed a square, where teenagers seemed to hang out.
The square was surrounded by several large pieces of art, like the one in this photo:
Exotic Fruit in a Poor Grocery Store
After buying my suitcase, I decided it would be a good idea to find a grocery store to save some money.
The grocery store I found was probably the least inviting grocery store I ever visited, with some foods looking like anything but begging me to buy them.
However, if I wanted something to drink, the variety was impressive – water, juices, wines…. you name it.
Some foods looked better, though, and a highlight for me was seeing pineapples. I don’t know about you, but the grocery store near my home doesn’t sell any pineapples.
As I walked, I noticed the back of a white car with red letters on it (yes, below the casino sign and on the right side of the pink casino), saying “Bibliomovil – Estamos acercando el libro al lector”. In English, it means they’re bringing the book closer to the reader.
The National Library of the Argentine Congress initiated this project in 2002 (link’s in Spanish), with the intention of creating an interaction between readers, texts and text creators – as well as discuss topics like oral narration and how to read in the twenty-first century.
The National Drink Named After My Grandma
One of the things said grocery sold was mate (read: ma-te, not an Australian buddy), Argentina’s national drink. Argentines usually share their glass with those around them – and everyone drinks from the same straw. True story.
In this particular store, I found a mate named after my grandma, Amanda, who passed away years ago. It was interesting, especially since I knew I’d soon be reaching Mount Otto in Bariloche. Otto was her husband, my grandpa’s name.
Have you ever been to Puerto Iguazu? If you haven’t, what would you most like to see there?