Bad news: there are grand total of four jaguars in Puerto Iguazu, which means that the only cats I would be seeing in Argentina were the ones that dared to run into oncoming traffic. Even those were few and far between. I don't blame them, though. Personally, it was a little scary riding with an Argentine driver...a far safer bet than darting in front of one, as traffic lines or safety precautions are rarely noticed.
Upon our arrival into Iguazu, we were hit with the blasting, 100 degree weather. Being from Texas, I was prepared to handle this hot, humid disgusting-ness. The difference is that in Texas, we have air conditioners that work. And in Texas, you aren't wearing the same shirt for several days in a row. Not the case in Iguazu. We'll just say that I am certain I smelled very...lovely. Of course, they do have showers. The only issue I had was that ours had two nobs (as all showers do); although, these were labeled "hot" and "hot". Nope, not a typing mistake. Turn on one "hot" nob, and your water was scalding. Turn on the other "hot" nob, and your skin was melting off. It was quite the dilemma. I couldn't not shower. So, I cupped my hands and proceeded to throw water onto my body for a good ten minutes. Cup the burning water. Throw. Cup the burning water. Throw. Cup the burning water. Throw my hands up in frustration and accidently hit the shower curtain. Crash- the shower rod falls on my head. I quit. Back to smelling lovely.
Fortunately for me, that fresh shower feeling wouldn't have lasted long. We began our morning with a hike in the Iguazu National Park to view the Devil's Throat Falls up close. I'm not certain how to describe in words what I was about to see. We'll just say this: everything that you've ever seen on tv or pictured in your head or looked at on a postcard, looks nothing like the real thing. It's a sight that literally stops you dead in your tracks. All you can do is stare...and become immediately humbled/amazed/thankful for the existence of such magnificent things. You may have never believed in a higher being before that point but a sight like that will convince you that God truly does exist.
This sensation continued for the remainder of the day, as we traveled to other falls at the park. By this point, we were panting, sweating, and looked pretty much like we'd just risen from the dead. Next up, basking in the hot, hot, HOT heat as we waited to board a boat that would take us directly beneath the falls. That's right. I, Allison Grainger, traveled into a waterfall. No need for a shower anymore. I was soaked.
Of course, the heat mixed with the safari truck ride (in which I saw no monkeys or tucans or jaguars or pumas...but I did see some trees that were supposed to be important for some reason or another. I can't remember those reasons, probably because trees aren't as cool as jaguars) left me restored to my previous state of moist from sweat. It was the half drowned-rat and half tornado-for-a-hairdryer look. Yeah, I would not be impressing any Argentine men today.
No need to worry, though. I wouldn't be seeing any more gauchos on my trip. The falls were one of our last stops. We made our way to where three countries- Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay- meet at the Parana river. We took our final photos. We ate our last meal. Then, we boarded the bus, headed to the airport, and commenced with a full 24 hours of airport life.
Before long, we had landed in Miami. It was 6:30 am, after a red-eye flight. Once again, I looked...lovely. As I stepped off, the thoughts of my trip flashed through my mind: the long meals, the relaxed attitudes, the quiet beauty. I realized for the first time that life doesn't have to be so hectic. It's okay to take a seista or a 2-hour lunch or even just a deep breath. That's something the Argentines realize that we seem to forget: you can pause for a few brief moments and-surprisingly- the world still turns. The world never falls apart because you stopped working for a few seconds. It was a fact that I had always known...yet, somehow always seemed to forget.
Then, I thought of the lack of government support, the never-ending Coca Cola (which I'm now soooo tired of drinking), and the sticky weather. I had experienced a different culture in a way that made me appreciate their way of life...and be thankful for ours. As I was handed my passport, the gentleman announced, "Welcome home, Ms. Grainger."
Funny. I couldn't have said it better myself.