After traveling for a few months, most of which has been nonstop sightseeing, I decided to take a week off to relax in Buenos Aires before I headed to Peru for a five-day trek through the Salkantay Pass to Machu Picchu.
Prior to my week of relaxation, I met up with some students and professors from LMU who were on the annual CMS trip that took me to Europe last year and brought them to Chile, Argentina, Brazil and Peru this year.
It was great to tag along with them on the city tour of Buenos Aires, and to spend time sightseeing with Dr. Seal, who had previously helped me so much in planning our India trip in March. I was also fortunate enough to accompany them for two nights to Iguazú Falls – the largest waterfalls in the world and one of the seven natural wonders!
As it turned out, one of the international students on the CMS program didn’t get her visa in time for Argentina, so she got left behind in Chile. Her misfortune worked out great for me as I got to stay with her roommate at the Sheraton Iguazú Resort & Spa (located inside the national park), use her pass to the falls, enjoy free bus transport with the group from the airport, and participate in a guided tour of the falls.
It was also nice to stay in a fancy hotel with a fitness center and spa. I spent both mornings at the gym and in the sauna – two places I haven’t seen in a long time and miss greatly! While the gym was high on my attraction list, Iguazú Falls took the cake. It was absolutely breathtaking and totally worth the trip the not-so-cheap flight from Buenos Aires.
If you look at Google images of the falls, they are impressive enough, but being there in person is a completely different experience. After the recent heavy rains, the normally white water was brown, and the falls turned into what could’ve been a scene from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, with chocolate colored water pouring down from great heights, and spraying us along the way.
It was a chilly, foggy morning, but turned out to be a sunny afternoon that ended with many of us riding a boat under the falls. With life jackets on, shoes off and day packs stowed away in waterproof bags, we spent $55 for probably 30 minutes of pure joy as we got sprayed left and right, and then down right soaked as the boat dipped us under the falls several times.
When the CMS group left for Brazil, I headed back to Buenos Aires for my week of relaxation in a lovely Airbnb in San Telmo. It felt good to unpack all my things and settle in for a week in once place. I went to the local mercado to buy groceries (and of course a bottle of Malbec) and planned to eat in most of the week to save some money.
I had grand plans to write and read a lot this week since I had done a lot of the standard sightseeing my first few days in Buenos Aires the week before. I also wanted to do a few day trips to San Isidro, Tigre and Colonia, which is only an hour ferry ride away in Uruguay. And of course I was going to spend the week doing workouts at home and jogging along the nearby Puerto Madero.
But then Monday turned into Wednesday, and Thursday was a rainy national holiday and everything was closed, and Friday after I finally dragged myself out for a run, I caught a cold. Then I spent the entire weekend in bed, leaving only on Sunday afternoon to go to the local hospital where by Airbnb host happened to be a doctor and was able to help me navigate the ER (thank you Argentina for free health care, even for foreigners!).
I did manage to tour a few museums, explore the funky streets of San Telmo, walk (and run) along Puerto Madero, stroll through the Jardín Botánico and the El Ateneo Bookstore in Palermo, and enjoy a fancy dinner at La Cabrera with my new friend Kimberly from GLT.
It was a bit of a lonely week, something I had really been looking forward to, but also made me a bit reclusive at the same time. I wanted to explore and eat the local food, but I wanted to be safe (not out alone after dark) and eat cheaply using the kitchen I had at home. I wanted to check out the other cities nearby, but it was a lot of effort and extra costs as well. Let’s be honest, I was just being lazy.
And then when I got sick, I just wanted to be home with my boyfriend, who I know would’ve been overly happy to take care of me. I was worried about my upcoming trek in Peru, flying with a fever, and getting altitude sickness when I already had the flu. Needless to say, that time I spent in Argentina wasn’t as good as it could’ve been.
In the end, I really did love Buenos Aires and Iguazu Falls, and since I missed out on some of the places I wanted to see, I’ll just have to get back there some time in the near future. I was pretty miserable traveling to Cusco at 5am the morning after I spent my last afternoon in the hospital, but I was cleared for take off and wasn’t going to miss my last adventure in South America.