It was less than a two hour flight to BA from Santiago but it took over an hour to get through the immigration line. I tried to get some dinero but there were only three ATMs I found and they were all out of money. I got a ticket using my credit card for the Arbus which has a few stops in the city and then goes to the other BA airport (AEP - Jorge Newberry) from where my flight to Iguazu was leaving. I made it on time and still couldn't find a functioning ATM so I had no money. The flight to iguazu was about 1 1/2 hours and by the time we arrived I was pretty hangry. It was a lush jungle where an airport had been made from a giant swath through it. I went to the Four Tourist desk to get a ticket for the shuttle van as recommended by my host but I had no dinero and the only ATM at this airport didn't like my debit card. I asked if they took American dollars and they did so I fished them out of my maleta (suitcase). It was $7 and he dropped me at the door of "Folks" que es el nombre de mi B and B que I paid about $35 per night. There are a wide range of lodging options here from rooms in a house to luxury hotels that cost upwards of $300 per night. I didn't know what to expect of this place, and I was having room envy of some people who were dropped of at the very luxurious looking Pacifica hotel. Folks is in the heart of the little city of Puerto Iguazu and a very charming house with a little office set up near the entrance with an inviting common area. There are three rooms off the dining room and two rooms in the rear of the building. Juan and Sebastian, a couple, are the owners. They are from BA. All with private bathroom and an AC thank god.
A note about Iguazu Falls. There are two ways to see the falls - from the Argentinian side and from the Brazilian side. Americans need a visa to enter into Brazil and it costs over $100. I've heard conflicting reports on whether you can show up and get a visa. What appear to be more reliable reports say you must obtain the visa prior to getting to Brazil like before you leave the US. I haven't actually checked the official website. I had no intention of going to the Brazilian side but there are many pros and cons to both sides although I think the Argentinian side offers way more. Anyways, my Airbnb host told me that the border from Puerto Iguazu to Fog de Iguazu on the Brazilian side is open, and a visa is not necessary for the day visit by bus. But, not wanting to risk an international incident I wasn't going to risk this.
Monday morning I was going to take a shower but there was no water pressure. En la tarde the owner said. Great. I'm going to get all sweaty anyways. I walked to the bus station and bought a round trip (ida y vuelta) to the cataratas (falls) for $150 Ar which is about $9 usd. It dropped off at the entrance to the park where I purchased an admission ticket for $500 Ar. I headed first for the train to the devils throat falls which actually is two trains. Once there you walk a good kilometer to the lookout. SpectacuLar. Wow. Then I did the exterior and interior walking routes. I thought plitvice park in Croatia was awesome. It didn't even come close to this. Just wow. What a natural wonder. The sound alone was incredible. The view indescribable. Every few feet something new. Very well done with how the park is laid out. Easily walkable even if pushing a stroller or wheelchair but it doesn't take away from the pristine jungle. Coatis are all over the place.
One of the really big things in Argentina, and also all over Chile, is Mate. It's made by putting Mate herbs in this cup that has a metal straw that's kind of a flat bowl at the bottom with little holes in it. Then for the first person you pour hot water in and suck the Mate tea out the straw. When you're done you pass it to the next person and new hot water is poured in for that persons turn. It's a social cultural thing. Tastes like tea. I don't like it because I don't like tea. But I did try it when I was offered because it would have been rude not to. When someone offers it to you it means they accept you as a friend. People actually carry these things around with them along with a thermos of hot water. There are actually leather and fabric totes made especially for this. I thought they were wine totes. Hahaha. Even the bus driver was drinking it while talking to a passenger who offered it to him. They sell the herbs in packages like we sell ground coffee.
At night I walked down to the Plaza San Martin because I got to see a whole different part of town. These plazas are used by everyone at night. Kids on bicycles, teens meeting up with friends. People just hanging out. Street food vendors all over. Local shops are open late here and locals take to the streets then to avoid the heat during the day as it cools off considerably at night. Hence the reason for siesta when everything is closed between about 1:30 and 4:00. Probably the shops stay open to 10 pm. And keep in mind that no one eats dinner until 8 or 9 at the earliest except the gringo tourists.
I decided on The Van Burger because it was casual and inexpensive and they had Patagonia Amber on draft my new favorite beer. Cool atmosphere too. So far Argentina is not as expensive as chile.
If you go to the park two days in a row your second day is 50% off. I signed up for the Gran Aventura which is an optional "excursion" in the park consisting of a ride in a big truck through the jungle and then a boat ride that actually goes beneath the falls. The cost was 950 Ar. You could just pay 500 Ar for the boat ride and that's what I recommend because the jungle ride was not interesting really as there were no animals to be seen. I saw more animals walking through the park as it's essentially the same jungle. The boat ride however was fantastic. We all were completely soaked head to toe and thankfully they gave us all a big plastic bag to put our things in to keep them dry. But being a SAT didn't bring a change of clothes so I was soaked until I got back.
At night every half hour starting at 8 pm, there is a light show at the Tres Fronteras. This is about a 30 minute walk from town and is on the river where you can see where Brazil and Paraguay also meet the river. The light show is really cool. In the mist and light of the water, a colorful movie of lights is shown celebrating the three cultures. For Argentina, the gaucho dancers, for Brazil it's the dancers in Mardi Gras type headdresses, and for Paraguay the native long dresses.
My last day I went to the Guiahoga which is a sanctuary for rescued animals. It was nice but seeing that the temperature had climbed to about 94 degrees plus humidity it was pretty hot. I hung out at the hostel the rest of the day talking to one of the owners Sebastian and he gave me a list of places to go in BA. Other than the heat, Puerto Iguazu was a nice place to visit and the cataratas truly a world wonder. A local hotel (as opposed to something like the costly Sheraton) with a pool would be a great choice so you could jump in after the day trekking through the park.