Goodbye South America!
Date: 18th March – 28th March 2013
Where: Buenos Aires (Argentina) – Foz do Iguazu (Brazil via Paraguay) – Santos
Distance: 8333 to 8371 miles
Hello and welcome to the last blog post from South America! As you read this we are boarding our cruise home. We have been looking forward to this ever since we first came up with this ruse in Bolivia. Free food, free swimming pools, free cabin, but everything else costs. Cycle tourers just need a place to eat, sleep and exercise, so I think we’ll be OK!
Our trip from Buenos Aires to the Iguazu Falls was typically complicated. This time the guilty culprit was the bus driver of Crucero Del Norte. When we showed up with our bikes he plainly and frankly said ‘no’. We found this very frustrating given we were sold the ticket having made it quite clear we were traveling with bikes and they weren’t boxed. Eventually customer service came to the fore, and our bikes were loaded, but then came the exorbitant fees for carrying the bikes, three times what the desk had said. At this point both of us were so fed up with the debacle that we paid up, but the whole scenario, plus the fact that half the bus were looking at us, made us close to tears. Seeing this the evil staff thrust money back into our hands, in doing so exposing their cunning plan for extorting cash from foreigners. They had been treating the Paraguayan passengers with the same contempt.
At last, we were on the bus, and now the staff were friendlier, better late than never I guess. The ride on the bus was about as interesting as an end-of-season football match between two clubs with nothing to play for. Coincidentally 90 minutes late, the referee called time on the game and we were dropped in our 15th country: Paraguay. We had come here to save £30 on bus tickets as Ciudad Del Este was not exactly a tourist destination. We could see why, with all sorts of people, noise, and food crowding the streets…a cyclist’s dream! Juices and food was thrust in our direction as we cycled, luckily we could use our Argentinian cash to buy some of their bbq kebabs. We quickly reached (and nearly missed) the immigration post, and scooted over the bridge to country 16: Brazil.
Geoff’s photographic memory of the entirety of google maps easily navigated us to a newly founded Casa de Ciclista in Foz do Iguacu, which the local cycle association (ACCI) has set up. Luciano and Fabio were excellent hosts, and made our time there absolutely perfect. After a day where rain stopped play, we went to the Brazilian side of the amazing Iguazu Falls and then the Argentinian. We were lucky that the falls had four times as much water as normal in them, making the spray and effect of so much gushing water even more spectacular! We’ll let the photos speak for themselves for this natural wonder:
We went for a Saturday cycle-ride with the ACCI to Argentina again (crossing the border for the eighth time this trip) to a landmark where you can see into three counties (Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay) at the confluence of the Iguazu and Parana rivers. Around 30 Brazilian (and 2 Scottish English) cyclists caused chaos on the streets of Argentina before stopping for one or three beers and cycling home in the dark. It was great fun, and we’re sure to source out or start up something similar and so relaxed in the UK when we return!
When we got back to the casa, we were surprised to find Corinne and Joseba who we last (briefly) met in the La Paz Casa de Ciclista! They had reached Ushuaia a month earlier than us and after bussing to Buenos Aires had cycled Northwards. They finish soon, after meeting and hooking up on the road four years ago! For those people wanting to see a world tour blog…visit theirs (see the links page)!
The bus to Santos from Foz was the polar opposite of our last Argentina bus experience. Professional and quick, with no money exchanging hands for the bikes, we were more than pleasantly surprised. In no time we were in Santos, and set about shopping to make ourselves more presentable for the cruise. In between we went for the odd ride round town, made minor celebrities of ourselves at the local bike shop, and relaxed on the beach watching the locals practising football (we didn’t see Pelé though in his hometown).
The Bandavelo (Damien and Thomas) are on a cruise from Buenos Aires to Venice, and coincidentally were stopping in Santos on the 26th. We went down to try and find them, but it was like finding a cyclist in the pampa, so we resorted to taking the following picture to give you all a taste of just how big our cruise ship is going to be! Sleeping in a drainage ditch under the road it definitely isn’t going to be!