Monday, 9 October 2017

Flying under the radar.

Before we came to Iguazu our research told us that a visa into Brazil costs around AUD$200 per person.  The idea of spending a $1,000 for a half day trip to see the other side of the falls seemed a tad steep so we decided to just stick to the Argentine side.

However, our taxi driver told us that the border control on the Brazilian side is closed on weekends and that he was happy to take us over.  We were stamped out of Argentina and as we drove through the empty customs of Brazil our taxi driver whistled an innocent tune.  I don't know what would have happened if we had been stopped.  None of us had packed wire cutters, organised code names or decided on a safe rendezvous location should we have to leg it.  While we don't have a stamp in our passports, we can now say we have been to Brazil.

First, we went to the Parque das Aves (Bird Park), which is located a few hundred metres from the Brazilian Iguazu park entrance.  The park is well maintained and it's obvious that the profits go back into the park.  It houses many rescued birds and some that are bred at the park.  There are many macaws that have either had their wings clipped by owners or were raised in cages and never learnt how to fly.  The aviaries were mostly large enough for the birds to be able to fly in and several of the nests had web cams set up for the breeding season.

Talluah was able to get up close to a toucan, her favourite bird, and we spent a while in the butterfly house watching humming birds dart around from feeder to feeder.  When they pass by you can hear why they are called humming birds.

We had organised to be picked up at three o'clock so we scooted the  few hundred metres to the fall's entrance, paid our admission and caught the shuttle bus out to the falls.  The shuttle buses are double decker buses without windows and when they pass going in the opposite direction the passengers call out to the other bus.

With only a 90 minute window we aimed for La Garganta del Diablo (the Devil's Throat) - the most impressive part of the falls.  We did don ponchos but they wouldn't be entirely necessary in the warmer months.  The Throat can be accessed by elevator or for those a little fitter - stairs.  Lots and lots of stairs. 

Our overall verdict of Iguazu Falls is that anyone who has the opportunity to see them should.  There are many more activities you can do around the falls that we would have loved to do.  It's worth seeing the falls from both sides of the border but if you only have a limited time there prioritise the Argentine side.

And, Happy Birthday Twyllalee! 

one toucan in one toucan out... 

Saturday, 7 October 2017

Toucans aren't just for Christmas

We organised with the taxi driver from yesterday, whose nickname is Mono (monkey), to take us out to the animal refuge centre Guira Oga.

The taxis here don't have meters and everything is discussed before hand.  It's only a ten minute drive from where we are and Mono said he could do a return trip for 450 pesos.   This is a man who drives for a living and takes people to the same places all the time.  Whenever we ask him about a price he has to think about it first.  He must have sliding prices for each customer that varies depending on some unknown factors.

The Guira Oga refuge centre houses numerous birds, such as toucans and birds of prey, that have been raised as pets and no longer wanted.  Some have never learnt how to fly and can't be released into the wild.  There are desert turtles that live longer than their owners expected and some pumas that had bred with a domestic cat.  Some animals have been injured on nearby roads and others have come from zoos for various reasons.

They had a crocodile and one day a second crocodile was in the enclosure.  No one knows how it got there.  The crocodile fence was just over a metre high.

Indiana did a fantastic job acting as a translator for her grandparents while the guide explained the story of all the animals.  

Friday, 6 October 2017

I'm falling for you Iguazu.

Talluah's parents have joined us for several weeks here in Argentina.  We took this opportunity to do some extra travel and see the sights of Argentina.

First on the list is the Iguazu cataratas (water falls).  There are countless buses that run from Bs As to Iguazu but these are only for people who enjoy sitting on a bus for 18 hours.  We're more the two hours on a plane type of people.  Landing at Iguazu is a real landing in the jungle.  So often airports are surrounded by cities but here the airport has been carved into the greenery.  Once at the airport we were hit by the tropical dry heat - quite the contrary to the weather we had been experiencing in 9 de Julio and Bs As.  The taxi system is 500 pesos per car to your hotel and there are no public buses.  As our taxi driver drove us to our accommodation
we immediately noticed that people here speak a lot slower and are easier to understand.  This was confirmed later in the day when we were in town window shopping.

Our host put us in touch with a taxi that had an eight seater vehicle and would take us to the falls and back for a reasonable price.  When we woke this morning, Depp was running a bit of a temperature and we ummed and ahhed about one of us staying behind so Depp could rest.  He assured us that he was well enough to go.  We don't usually take parenting advice from five year olds but today we did.  After the 20 minute drive to the national park it was obvious that Depp would need to be carried.  Just as I was limbering up for eight hours of carrying a child we saw pram rentals and went to ask how much.  The man saw Depp and said the prams are only for toddlers less than two.

About 700 metres in we saw another shop that rented out prams and Talluah went in while we kept Depp out of sight.  The pram was a god-send as Depp was able to sleep when he needed to and could see everything comfortable while still resting.

While you may not see all 275 water falls, it's possible to see a substantial amount of spectacular falls in one day with a family.  The tracks are well maintained and most are accessible by wheelchairs and prams.  There are many other activities such as boat trips, visiting a small island to get a different view of the falls, going under the falls, eco tours in the river and a train ride to the Devil's Throat.

We managed to stay dry and only saw two mosquitoes.  The mosquito population may be different at different times of the year but we were surprised by the lack of little vampires.  There were however, plenty of coati looking for a free feed.  These little animals are cute until you see their tusklike teeth and crazy long claws.  We caught a quick glimpse of some monkeys but unfortunately did not see any toucans, maybe tomorrow. 

Oh, and Happy Birthday Martine. 


Monday, 25 September 2017

Elementary my Little Prince.

The Buenos Aires Players is a theatre troupe that has been producing educational plays in English since 1982.  Each year they tour around Argentina presenting age appropriate theatre to help children learn English.  They provide resources and worksheets for students to engage with before hand.  The lower half of the school watched The Little Prince and the upper half of the school watched a version of Sherlock Holmes where Sherlock’s grandson, a bumbling detective, was called on to solve a mystery.

The theatre used to be the cinema but with the advancement of film projection they no longer show movies as the projector is considered old technology.  There have been talks about raising the appropriate funds to buy a new projector but as yet nothing has happened.

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Bubbles and needles.

You may recall at the start of the month our washing machine went out on stress leave and we resorted to a mixture of wearing our clothes while showering, hand washing and carrying a basket of dirty washing several blocks to wash at a friend’s place.  Thankfully we didn’t need to go to a stream with a rock.

Our good friend Rosario gave us a recommendation for a repair man and he explained that we didn’t break the machine, it just broke.  He was worried that the repair may not be worthwhile as the machine was old.  As it turned out, the repair was about a quarter the price of a new machine.  We opted for the repair and found true service.  The repair man drilled, improvised, reconfigured and in the end stood over our gas stove heating up metal to melt part of the plastic casing so that the new part would fit. 

When it came time to pay we tried to round the price up to allow for his extra time but he simply said that, that was the price.  It’s nice to see good old fashioned service.

In a couple of weeks we are heading up to Iguazo falls in the north of Argentina.  While it has been some years since a reported case of Yellow Fever in Argentina, it is still recommended that people have the Yellow Fever vaccine before heading to the falls.  We were going to have the vaccine done last time we were in BA but Depp and Talluah were so sick with the flu that we couldn’t.  We were worried that we had to travel four and half hours back to BA to have the vaccine but Rosario came to our rescue yet again telling us about the hospital in Pehuajó (100km west, population of 38000) that does the vaccine for free.

We caught the bus to Pehuajó, stopping at some little towns along the way, to be greeted by gale force winds.  We had dressed for spring but Pehuajó had a little bit of winter left over for us.  By the time we arrived at the hospital our hair looked like we had skydived into town.

The doctor who did the vaccine said that mum and dad should go first so that the kids would see that it was OK.  In theory this sounded like a good idea as the kids had no troubles with their vaccines in Australia less than a year ago.  Talluah and I had our injections and can honestly say that they were the least noticeable injections we have ever had.  However, Depp and Truce saw it differently.  The colour drained from Truce’s face until she matched the table top in pallor and she said she felt like she was going to faint, and Depp burst into tears and showed everyone his impersonation of a koala clinging to a tree, I was the tree.  After some fanning for Truce and coaxing for Depp we all left the hospital protected and ready to battle the gale back to the bus terminal.

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Happy Birthday Indiana.

Indiana celebrated her 14th birthday today.  It was a quiet affair of pizza and cake at home.  For those of you who follow us on Instagram you will already know that Indiana is quite the artist.  She never ceases to amaze us in the way she sees things differently.  I can't believe how quickly 14 years have gone, and I know all parents say that but it really does just feel like a minute ago she was running across the couch and diving into her soft toy box like a clown doing a high dive into a puddle... She was barely one year old.  Let's just say she is an absolutely gorgeous kid inside and out, her generosity and loving nature shines through and we are so proud to be her crew.

Yesterday was Teachers’ Day.  What's the best present you can give a teacher? A day off you say, well you'd be right.  But wait there's more not only did the teachers get to sleep in and avoid saying "1, 2, 3 eyes on me" but we also were given some lovely gifts.  

Saturday, 2 September 2017

You missed a bit.

We have acquired a self propelled lawn mower that starts first time, doesn’t use any fossil fuels nor disturb the neighbours.  One of our grade six students said that she had an extra rabbit and since rabbits are not permitted in our home state we thought this was a great chance to have one while living in Argentina.  As the adoptive family we have been allowed to name the rabbit...  
Introducing, Philadelphia Whiskers (A.K.A Philly).

While we are OS we’re renting our house out in Australia.  During the past seven months the oven and dishwasher in our house have died of old age and have needed to be replaced.  It seems that our washing machine here has followed suit, they do say it comes in threes.  This morning when our washing machine was unusually silent we knew something was amiss and we ended up having to wash our clothes by hand.  Unfortunately this machine requires a Torx screwdriver to undo the back, which my leatherman surprisingly does not have and they're a little tricky to find so I’m not sure how soon we'll be able to fix it.  Until then it's rocks and wash boards.