Archive for April, 2009

Rainbows and Butterflies

April 29, 2009

If you close your eyes and imagine “paradise,” what do you see? Mine involves some sort of tropical surroundings, flowing water, gentle breezes, chirping birds, and an optimal 78 degrees. I think I got the closest I ever will to actual paradise in Iguazu Falls, Argentina.

The day started with trying to find the local bus station in order to get to the falls. Cue four American tourists who speak about 10 words of Spanish, and let them loose with a map that’s definitely not drawn to scale and is missing the name of the most important road on it. After finally finding the bus depot and purchasing round trip tickets, we enjoy a bumpy, crowded ride to Iguazu National Park, home of the largest falls in the world.

Some background, courtesy of www.fallsworld.com:

The Iguazú National Park in the northeastern province of Misiones is a region of large rivers, humid tropics, red soil and bright green jungle, full of giant and ancient trees, peculiar endemic flora and a large presence of wild fauna. Iguazú itself means ‘large waters’ in Guaraní language. The park, located on the Argentine border with Brazil and Paraguay, presents a pristine area of subtropical rainforest, with more than 2000 identified plant species, more than 400 species of birds, mammals and reptiles and of course also contains the impressive Iguazú Falls, one of the worlds natural wonders…

Once inside the park, we take a short train ride to get closer to one of the famous cataracts – Devil’s Throat. Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe has a similarly named cataract, which usually suggests it has the most water rushing down of all, so it’s sure to be pretty impressive. To elevate one’s anticipation just a wee bit more, it’s a good 10 minute walk along a raised walkway to the actual falls.

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Oh, but it’s worth it.

Part of Devil's Throat Cataract

Part of Devil's Throat Cataract

We then realize the full magnitude of Iguazu Falls and how much more we have to see. We walk the entire length of the falls (about 3 miles) along a series of mesh metal walkways, constantly looking up, out and everywhere.

We couldn't fit the entire falls into a single photo!

We couldn't fit the entire falls into a single photo!

We start to notice an abundance of butterflies and learn that there are more than 500 species here. I don’t think I saw any two butterflies that looked alike. The “88” butterfly is a famous one found here.

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Vistas upon vistas…we couldn’t stop taking photos and we were very lucky to have a gorgeous, hot, sunny day to take advantage of the boat rides and viewing decks that allow you to get soaked in the falls. This is the original water park!

Boating up to the falls to get soaked.

Boating up to the falls to get soaked.

For real!

For real!

Then I saw it. The perfect rainbow. I’m talking end-to-end, totally complete, with all of the colors just like in a Lucky Charms commercial (minus the pot of gold). I have never seen such a crisp, full, rainbow that looked as though it wasn’t just the sun reflecting on water spray, but an actual thing out there above the falls. Just amazing. We stumbled upon several more rainbows (and a few hundred more butterflies), but that special one just stuck in my mind.

A+ for rainbow effort.

A+ for rainbow effort.

This was an incredible day, and one I won’t forget anytime soon. My paradise.

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Meh-Hee-Co…No Go

April 28, 2009

I’m not sure if this is just bad planning or actually a joke. I just got an email, dated April 27, from Liberty Travel advertising “last chance to book Mexico Extravaganza and save up to 50%!” Mmmmmm….really? Have they not heard about the pandemic spreading throughout the world that started in…Mexico?

Check it out…in case you feel immune to Swine Flu and want to get a really great deal on a vacation: Liberty Travel Mexico Extravaganza!

Airlines = Loathe

April 27, 2009

I love to travel. I hate to fly. Not just because of the potential death factor, but for having to deal with the airlines and their weird monopoly pricing, 3 ounce bottles of liquid / gels rules, grumpy TSA personnel, and having to cart a bag of my belongings with me everywhere along the way.

I was just trying to book my airline ticket to London, since Tanya tells me Monday is a good day to get a low fare. She was right, actually – I saw the lowest fare to date since I started looking (on Continental from Newark), so I finally decided to BOOK IT. Well, not even 4 seconds after I enter my credit card info online do I get an error message. Wait, did it work? I don’t know. Sigh. Do-over.

Well, the second time I try booking the ticket, the price goes up $100. In about 30 seconds! I secretly think Big Brother has been watching my Internet activity and decided I looked at the fare options one too many times, and now it’s screwing with me (don’t you think sometimes computers are smarter than people?). Well, the Continental customer service is no help – I was told apparently “millions of people are trying to book the exact same ticket I am booking.”

Really? Millions of people in the New York metropolitan area want to fly to London at the exact same date and time as me?? Well, then I feel really unoriginal and don’t want to go now if London will be filled with millions of New Yorkers when I go!!

Cipro…It’s Not Just For Anthrax Anymore.

April 24, 2009

Cipro is a “superdrug” that gained its notoriety during the Anthrax scare of October 2001, when envelopes full of white powder were found in the U.S. postal system and people started hoarding this prescription antibiotic. According to Wikipedia, “the licensed uses for ciprofloxacin in the United States are quite limited as ciprofloxacin is to be considered a drug of last resort when all other antibiotics have failed.”

This $hit is strong!

So imagine my surprise when (after suffering from a stubborn case of Monetzuma’s revenge on our trip South America) my friendly, local Chilean physician – who made a point in emphasizing how much younger he was than me! – prescribed Cipro for my woes. After a 5-minute examination in my hotel room, no less (for which I was wearing my bikini, and upon reflection I now feel that was kind of creepy, but also necessary. Also, I was so sick I didn’t care at the time.).

Anyway, back to getting the Cipro. I felt like I had been handed medicinal marijuana. Why? Because my 3 traveling companions, who were all white water rafting and having a goood ‘ol time while I was having a rendezvous, I mean exam, with a hot Chilean doc in my hotel room, immediately wanted my meds after they saw that it cured me in under 12 hours (this was after trying several different OTC drugs).

Whatever Cipro does – and I’m certainly not qualified to explain the specifics – it works. James immediately contacted my Chilean Doc, and arranged his own rendezvous/exam between appetizers and steak on the sidewalk outside a restaurant in town (the Chilean Doc was walking his dogs at the time – it was convenient for all). James then came away with his own prescription (which could easily be filled at any of the many corner pharmacies). We then rationed these pills with Erik and Amy because we were leaving town the next day and there was no time to arrange for their own strange Chilean Doc encounters. Too bad for them!

I won’t lie when I say whoever had the most Cipro felt the best at the end of the trip.

What the others were doing while I was getting my Cipro - the drug that saved the trip!

What the others were doing while I was getting my Cipro - the drug that saved the trip!

Roto Rooter

April 23, 2009

I mean, Rotorua! This is an area we recently discovered upon research of the North Island of New Zealand, where James and I are going in October. We hope to see sights like this in the town known for its geysers and geothermic history.

Cool!  And smelly, I bet, given the amount of sulfur in the air.