Friday, May 18, 2007

Along the Rio Uruguay

We hit the road on Friday. The guys at Alamo were helpful giving us easy to understand directions out of Buenos Aires and onto the main road north over the River de la Plate and into the country. Like any country it was nice to see land outside the big city.

Day 1 - We headed into the Parque de Palmas, a natural palm “oasis” (or savannah to be technical) where we set up camp for the night. After slaving over pasta on the MSR stove (Sean tells me that’s the “gear” term for all you nerdy camp nuts) we didn’t realize night had hit. Two capybaras (or Carpinchos in spanish) were standing just outside of the camp light and waddled into the underbrush (Donnie, that one’s for you).

There are also these really cute giant chinchillas that squeak at each other all night, they’re called Vizcacha (no pics, they only come out at night and run VERY fast!).

Days 2 and 3 - Next stop, Yapayu! This little town had a great provincial feel to it with dusty red dirt roads and horses parked at street corners. Yapayu is set right in the middle of farming country on Rio Uruguay, all you hear when you stand in the town square is chirping crickets, dogs barking and cows mooing.

Yapayu is the birthplace of Liberator San Martin, a prominent political hero in Argentina. We wandered through the old ruins, and then went for a walk on the main streets of the town. Living here is very modest, homes are small and most people keep gardens to grow their own fruits and veggies.

Monday we left Yapeyu for provincia Misiones. The roads got worse but the scenery was much better. We were out of farm/ranch land and into the sub-tropics! Around 2:00 that afternoon we were gridlocked by farmers on strike. They are upset by the unfair prices they are getting for their crops and blocked the two main highways accessing the province to bring attention to their fight.

While chatting with other stuck motorists we were recommended an alternate route to keep us on our way. So we back tracked a few miles and took a winding roller coaster of a road to another small road that snaked up the banks of the Rio Uruguay. It was slow going but the scenery was just great and there were hardly any other cars on the road! We ended up that day in a wet and muddy city called El Soberbio. We holed up in a cheap hotel and had an early night to recoup for our drive deep into the jungle and Puerto Iguazu the next day.

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