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The Rock-itt : September 2009
Last month our 80 year old travel writer, Pam, took us to Europe, UK, U.S.A and the Grand Cayman. This month she continues her journey to the exotic South America. Now comes the EXCITING part of the trip, not that it really justifies capital letters, but when you are on your own in a strange land, you don't speak any other language but English, and you are 81 years old and rather deaf ,sorry quite deaf, it is exciting. I had changed my accommodation booking in Sao Paulo to near the airport, and I had helpful cards with the addresses written on them so I stayed at the nearest hotel to the airport. $145 US per night (CHICKEN). I know but... found the shuttle and everything, of course, went smoothly. People spoke English and because they spoke slowly, on the whole I heard it. Now important tip, take tea bags, and if you are hooked, coffee ones too. Even the best (? ) hotels in Brazil, Peru & Chile lack this amenity, learn to have it black or carry UHT milk. They have wonderful selections of 'erbal teas but you may miss your mild caffeine fix. Plenty of alcohol available of course! The better the hotel, the better the computer access, and higher cost for use. And more general advice, it's hard to get wine "by the glass". The different beers are excellent, and tip people if you take photos of them, just a small amount of local money. Buy a good quality electric adaptor. Brazil Argentina Peru and Chile are same as US, but you need Europe as well. There are plenty of phone access booths and cheaper than your mobile, and make sure your credit and bank cards are international, cirrus, maestro, etc., on the back is OK. While in the US I made sure I got lots of low denomination notes, $1 are a godsend. I caught the plane in the morning to Iguassu Falls which was one of my "must sees". At the airport on arrival, I dug out one of my little cards and advanced on a desk with TAXI written on it. A driver was chosen for me so I was driven for about a half hour into Argentina because that was the side of the Falls I had been advised to see. The driver spoke English and we had no trouble at the border crossing, and so I arrived at my HI (Hostels International) bed for 4 nights. 25 US dollars B&B and I had an ensuite elderly, difficult access, but the water was hot and the place clean. I set out to run down an ATM and had no trouble getting some Argentinean pesos. (Pesos get confusing in South America) because when the pope divided the country between Portugal and Spain in 15 something or other, he made as much mess and muddle as the Balkan region in Europe has been, or poor old Africa by the European vandals! I will argue that one later, maybe. Still, they could think about a common currency at least, that now works in most of Europe. The cab cost me 30 US, not only that, he offered to pick me up for return and that meant for him being there for 4 a.m. in 4 days. I accepted at the same price. Now there are several hostels in Iguassu, and one rather superior one half way to the Falls Park. My driver being Brazilian wanted to know why I was not visiting the Brazilian side. Serious exploration led me to an ATN and a meal where English was spoken; they wanted me to have their beef at a Barbie but after travel, only light meals. I found the bus station and it was good bus service to Buenos Aires, 20 hrs! Anyway, my bus fare was 10 pesos return to the National Park. Entry fee there was 60 pesos. And I followed the crowds, signs, good paths and excellent walkways. I was suitably impressed; they even had small bays for the smokers and seats. The falls did not have their usual amount of water and when I checked flood levels I could see they were way off. It must be an amazing sight in full spate as it was seriously impressive as it was. There are tiny birds that live on even smaller insects flying through the spray, I tried to catch them on photograph but camera and skills were a bit wanting. I walked back to the centre, explored their history diorama and caught the bus back. I