March 30, 2004

Don´t Cry For Me Argentina

Not that there is really a reason for Argentina to cry for me at all, but whenever I think of Argentina that song goes through my head. As you may have guessed Sarah and I are in Argentina now. You are probably wondering where the new pictures are that I have been promising once we got to Argentina, well you are going to have to wait a few more days. Click below to read my good excuses for this and what we have been doing since we last wrote.

From Montevideo we took the (expensive) ferry from downtown to downtown Buenos Aires. The ferry is called Buquebus and is a fast cat done right, except for the price of $50 US one way for the 3 hour ride (you don't want to even know how much it costs to take a car). The only problem I had with the ferry is that you couldn't go outside which was pretty dissapointing.

We stayed in Buenos Aires for about a week, mostly at the Milhouse hostel right downtown. I personally think that it should informally be called the Nuthouse or Partyhouse because most of the people there party all night. It seems like clubs in Buenos Aires don't get busy until 2 - 2:30am so most people stay at the hostel drinking, playing cards and smoking profusely until 1 or 2am and then go out until dawn or later. A little side track on smoking. It seems like 90 percent of other travellers smoke. This wouldn't be so bad in Canada because you can't smoke inside in most places but it seems to be the opposite in south america, everyone smokes inside. This is a problem because most places are air conditioned which means that the air is recycled to keep it cool which means the smoke just builds up in a room until I have basically smoked a pack of cigarettes second hand over the course of a night. I am pretty close to getting a pipe or box of cigars and blowing cigar smoke in the general direction of other smokers to see how they like it.

Ok, enough about smoking, what was it about Buenos Aires that kept us there for a week you might ask? Well plenty of things. First of all it is a huge city and is pretty interesting to just walk around the streets such as the main avenue, 9 de Julio, one of the largest avenues in the world (8 lanes each direction). The recently restored Puerto Madero is interesting to walk around as well and is where we had our first sushi since we left vancouver (although they were out of tuna!) and walked around an old navy training vessel that is now a museum. The second night we were in Buenos Aires we went to a soccer game, Boca vs. Deportivo Cali. This game was better attended than the match we saw in Rio. Due to some heavy traffic the group from the hostel we were with got to the match just minutes before kickoff. When we got there we were greated witha huge crowd cheering loudly and jumping up and down all as one. It was an impressive sight from our seats which were pretty high up near midfield. The first half was scoreless but Boca opened up the scoring in the second half and went on to a 3-0 win which pleased the home crowd a lot. At one point the crowd was jumping in our section and you could feel the stands swaying.

The next night we went to a Tango show, Tanguera, which was one of the things that Sarah really wanted to do. I thought it was a well produced and entertaining production although a bit short compared to other theatrical productions I have been to. I did manage to fall asleep briefly during the show since I was up until 5am drinking with an Irish fellow the night before and hadn't had much sleep before going the show. Sarah gave me a sharp jab shortly after I dozed off and I managed to stay awake for the rest of the show.

Another hilight was a tour of the Teatro Colon. The tour was really interesting because it gave a behind the stage view of the inner workings of the theatre. We got to see a box seat, the normal seats, rehersal rooms with dancers practicing, costume storage and creation (separate floors for sets, shoes, dresses and mens outfits) . It was way more interesting than I was expecting.

Other hilights were going to the cemetary in Recolleta where Evita's tomb is. The cemetary is a huge place and the coffins are visible in the tombs. Kind of a creepy place. The museum of art nearby to the cemetary was interesting as well. They have quite the collection including a Picasso, van Gogh, Monet, Pollick and other famous artists.

We met some pretty cool people at the hostel too. Lots of Irish, a unproportionatly large number of people from Portland, some cool Kiwis, a smattering of Norwegians and even a few Canadians (from Edmonton and Calgary this time). One of the guys from Portland is walking from Tierra del Fuego to Alaska. He seemed pretty sane given this expedition. He is over a year into his walk and is just in Northern Argentina, he was in Buenos Aires visting a friend from Portland. I totally forget this guys name but he said that he is writing about his travels online so google might be able to help you find more about him if you are interested (I think, just think, that his name may have been Ian).

It was kind of sad leaving Buenos Aires but we did and we are now in Cordoba on our way to Mendoza where we will stay with our friend Dieter that we met in Salvador. It is here that I hope we will be able to upload our existing pictures (a few hundered). But in the mean time you can look at David Huska's pictures since he just recently finished a similar trip through central and south america. The main difference between his pictures and ours is that sometimes we are in our pictures and he actually took his camera out at night in Salvador during carnival.

Posted by bforsyth at 01:15 PM | Comments (4)

March 21, 2004

Goodbye Brazil

Sarah and I left Brazil (at 3am) on Friday. We left Porto Alegre on Thursday night after speding a couple of days there and meeting Marcelo Walter, who did his PhD in the Imager lab at UBC where I am doing my Masters. We had a good visit with him at his University where he is a proffesor in Computer Science. He took us out to a rodizio that night and once again I ate meat until I could eat no more. It seems to be a recurring thing the further we head south. This rodizio also had some good live entertainment. Some traditional gaucho dancing, which can get pretty hectic. Well, mostly when they spin these ropes with balls at the end and bounce the balls off the floor to make a sound. They do this very quickly and get the balls pretty close to the crowd. Then they brought up a girl that was visiting from Germany and spun the ball-rope things all around her, nicking her hair. She was pretty scared but held still.

Before we got to Porto Alegre we were in Florianopolis. It did clear up the second day we were there and we managed to spend some quality time on the beach there. Too much time infact as we both got a little burnt. Right now we are in Montevideo, Uruguay. We came here from Punta del Este which is supposed to be the most expensive resort town in Latin America. It is full of grey haired Urguayians and Agrentinians. We got there at 6am and had a difficult time finding the hostel because the one listed in our book didn't exist anymore. We eventually found it and promptly took a nap. This was followed by more beach time. It is a 2 hour bus ride from Punta del Este to Montevideo.

Montevideo is an interesting city. It has the most European architecture that I have seen on our trip so far. Today we went to a huge market that was a little over the top if you ask me. Stalls streched for as far as you could see. After having a lunch of more meat than I could eat once again we walked to a museum of ceramic tiles. Thats right, decorative ceramic tiles. Around 2400 of them. Then we went to the old city for drinks, and I couldn't help but have the Dulce de Leche pancakes, which I really didn't need. I had a sugar high for the next 2 hours.

Well this entry is getting a bit long, Davepop will be getting tired of reading so much if he even made it this far. I expect our next entry will be from Buenos Aires, our next destination.

Happy birthday Mom!

Posted by bforsyth at 07:21 PM | Comments (2)

March 14, 2004

Iquazu Falls - Foz do Iguaçu

The latest scoop since our last log. We have been to Curitiba, Morretes, Iguazu falls and Florianopolis. Click below to read more.

On Monday March 8th we arrived in Foz do Iguaçu from Curitiba. Foz do Iguaçu is the Brazillian town near Iguazu Falls (there are many spellings of Iguacu and I will use most of them :) which is on the border of Brazil, Agentina and Paraguay. The main tourist attractions in the area are the falls and Itaipu dam. We spent the first morning at Itaipu which is on the Parana river seperating Paraguay and Brazil. The building of the dam was a joint venture between the 2 countries and now they share the generated power 50-50. The dam generates the most power of any other dam in the world and keeps breaking its own records, and they are now adding two more generators to bring the total to 20.

On the 9th we visited the Brazillian side of Iguaçu falls, which is on the Iguaçu river, not the Parana where the dam is. We went to the falls with Andrew, a Swiss gringo, and met Eric from Chicago/Wisconson on the bus to the falls. As soon as we got off the bus we saw a Coatimundi in a tree eating some fruit, and he was eyeing us up hoping that we had some food for him. The views of the falls from the Brazillian side are breathtaking. They have done a great job with their trails and viewing platforms, some of which go right to the edge of falls. On the path we saw more Coaties, lots of butterflies, lizards and a Toucan.

On the 10th we went to the Argentinian side of the falls. It took us a good two hours to get there crossing the border and changing buses twice. It was much hotter this day, 35 degrees at 9am, and not much cloud cover. This wasn't too much of a problem because the Argentinian trails are in the forest for the most part. There are three main trails, lower, upper and devil's throat. We did the upper and lower falls first which offer close up views of the smaller falls. We also took a short boat trip across the river to Isle San Martin where we saw a huge lizard that freaked Sarah out. After exploring these two trails we had lunch in a nicely air conditioned place and caught the little tourist train to the start of the trail to devil's throat. The trail is really an elevated walk way across the river to the edge of the fall. It was a crowded walk since the whole train load of people was going to the same place, so it was slow going, and hot. But it was worth it because the view at the end was amazing. I can't beleive how much water goes over the edge, and the mist cloud that comes from the bottom of the fall is equally as amazing. On the walk back to the train from the falls we saw a small crocodile in a back eddy of the river.

On the 11th we bussed back to Curitiba and on the 12th we took a ride on the famous Serra Verde train, that usually goes to Paranaguá but only went to Morretes for us because they are working on the Paranaguá station. It is supposed to offer amazing views of the hilly country side on the way to the ocean, which it did for the most part but the fog limited the visibility for us. In Morretes we had a tasty lunch, well I thought it was tasty Sarah had some reservations about it, of a local dish that I forget the name of right now. The main part was a meat stew that you mix with manioc flour to thicken it up and then you top it with Banana and rice. Then we had some side dishes of sea fruit, literal translation of Fruitas de Mer, seafood in Portugese including deep fried prawns and fish, a shrimp soup and mixed fruits of the sea soup. Since Sarah didn't like the taste of most of these items I had to eat most of it, ,which pushed my limits. I felt bad leaving so much uneaten food after seeing little kids beg for food outside of the train as we went by their shanty towns.

The day after the train ride we bussed to Florianopolis with prime seats, the first row of the top deck of a double decker bus. This provided a nice view of the crazy driving and country side when the window wasn't fogged up or covered in rain. The rain has followed us to Florianopolis which is why this is such a long log entry, this is a beach town and the beach isn't much fun in the rain. Hopefully things will clear up for tomorrow.

I know there are plenty of spelling mistakes in here, feel free to tell me about them.

Posted by bforsyth at 07:13 AM | Comments (1)

March 07, 2004

Rio de Janeiro

Brief summary for those of you that don't read long log posts:

We are in Curitiba after 3 nights in Rio. Saw the main sights, Sugar Loaf, Christo Redentor, Copacabana beach (didn't see Ipanema). Met 4 other Canadians, 3 from Regina 1 from Abbotsford. Now on our way to Iguazu falls. No new pictures up yet, too expensive here, be patient.

And incase you didn't notice, there is a link just below this that you can click on to read the more verbose version of this post.

Sarah and I just arrived in Curitiba after 3 days in Rio. Our 18 hour bus ride turned into a 20 hour bus ride complete with noisy Israeli guys right behind us that wouldn't stop singing in Hebrew. I didn't get much sleep, I'm a little too big for the chairs, but I think Sarah didn't have any problems getting a fair amount of sleep. Once we arrived in Rio we B-lined it to the hostel because we heard that they were pretty full. We saw a flyer for a hostel called Shenkin while we were in Arrial and we went there first. There was room for us but it turned out to be a hostel run by Israelies and most of the people staying there were Israeli as well and guess what, the two guys that were sitting behind us on the bus from Porto Seguro to Rio showed up at the hostel a little after us, but there weren't any free beds at that time.

While we were sitting around waiting to check-in we notice 3 guys playing backgamon that had backpacks with Canadian flags on them. Turns out that they are from Regina and are taking a little time off from their studies at UofR. There was even another Canadian from Abbotsford at the hostel as well. It was the most Canadians we have met at one spot on our whole trip.

We didn't get up to much our first day in Rio, just a quick dip at Copacabana beach for me and then a nap and dinner. We also watched the Canadians and some Irish guys play a couple of drinking games, which was entertaining. I didn't participate because I had gone a little overboard with the drinking games in Arrial. Day two in Rio took us to the Sugar Loaf, a couple of hills at the entrance to the bay Rio is on. You take a couple of gondolas up to two different peaks that offer some spectacular views of the city. We had a little too much sun doing this and didn't feel too hot so we went back to the hostel for another nap, its a tough life I tell ya. That night we went out to a rodizio with the Canadian guys, all you can eat meat that is brought around on a sword to your table. There is a restraunt in Vancouver called Samba that does this, you should go check it out if you like meat.

Day three had plans to go to Santa Terresa and then to the statue of Christ on the hill overlooking Rio. We only made it to Santa Terresa, a little town in the middle of rio that you get to by cable car. The weather wasn't very good so we put off the Jesus trip until the next day. Its a good thing to because when we got out of the subway station on the way back to the hostel is was pouring down rain, and I mean seriously pouring down rain. We walked a block towards our hostel and we were completely soaked. The roads turned into rivers and the storm sewer man hole covers turned into fountains as water overflowed from them and squirted out the holes.

The next day we went to the statue of Christ with the guys from Regina. We ended up taking a cab instead of the train to the top because it was cheaper and we got to go to another view point as well. The statue of christ (Christo Redentor is its official name) is pretty impressive but crawling with tacky tourists (ourselves included). It was a somewhat clear day and we got some good pictures. More pictures are on the way, possibly this week, and if not this week then when we get to Argentina. Internet is pretty expensive in Brazil and the upload rates are really slow. I've heard that things are better in Argentina.

Right now we are killing time in Curitiba waiting for our bus to Iguazu falls. We will stay there a few days then come back here to take a train ride to the coast that is supposed to be spectacular. Then we head south towards Uruguay and Argentina. Sarah has been complaining about not getting any emails so make sure that you send her an email or two :)

Posted by bforsyth at 11:18 AM | Comments (0)

March 02, 2004

Arrial d'Ajuda

A quick update. Sarah and I are currently in Arrial d'Ajuda, a quiet little town near Porto Seguro, which is a holliday place for Brazillians. We came here from Morro de Sao Paulo, which we mistakenly went to right after carnaval, which is when everyone else from Salvador goes there, and they all have more money than us. This meant that we ended up paying a lot more for a room than we would have liked, but at least it had A/C. We had to pay 350 Reais, about $175 Canadian, for 3 nights. We went to other places that wanted 300 Reais per night, a little more than we can afford.

From Morro we boated to Valenca and then bussed to Porto Seguro, which took approximately 9 hours along windy roads. So windy infact a little girl vomited out the window. Thankfully she was on the other side of the bus. This was unfortunate for the Aussie sitting across from me on the other side of the bus who had his window open for fresh air, and a little puke as well. It was kind of ironic since I had just told him my story about throwing up on people on a plane once and he said he was glad that he wasn't sitting infront of me.

Well, our free half hour is up at this internet place. Now we will go and get ready for our 18 hour bus ride to Rio!

Posted by bforsyth at 06:33 AM | Comments (0)