A lot happens in a short amount of time traveling. It's hard to keep up. Writing about Friday on Wednesday means that I am really behind. Leaving Montevideo we took the bus to Paysandú on Uruguay's western border with Argentina, then another short bus ride over the Río Uruguay to Colón, Argentina. We wanted to see El Palmar, a national park with a lot of wildlife. We were running short on Argentinian pesos but figured we could get some at Colón.
Ah, but banks are not as easy to find as they might be and there was none close to the station. We asked at the tourist office if the town nearest the park would have a bank and took a chance that it might. From Colón the bus dropped us on the side of the road outside the little town of Ubajay where the bus stop attendant told us that the nearest bank was 40 kilometers away. Yay.
The guy running the restaurant changed one of our emergency US$100 bills for a little under the going rate and we got a remis (gypsy cab) into the park. We camped by the Río Uruguay and got to see a family of capybaras, or carpinchos, wander out of the forest. Many many vizcachas live in the campground -- they are like much bigger chinchillas with a heavy black stripe across their lower face like a Groucho Marx mustache.
It felt great to sleep out under the stars after our urban soujourn. The next morning we met 2 really nice Israeli backpackers, Assaf and Ofer, and spent the day hiking with them, into the depths of the palms and then back out to some undated ruins of giant stone ovens where quicklime seems to have played a great role.
We ate dinner in the patio of the park restaurant where the vizcachas scamper about the tables and giant toads get underfoot, sometimes fatally as Assaf found out. We also saw many beautiful birds, black and white iguanas and giant toads. We have not yet seen a ñandu, the ostrich-like native.
We started hiking out of the park Sunday morning, along the road that leads 9 miles to the entrance. About 15 minutes down the long and dusty road we hitched a ride from an incredibly nice guy named Manuel who chatted about the park, politics, Argentina. His car was amazing, with a gaucho Jesus dangling from the rearview mirror, a cracked windshield and 2 wires that he reconnected under the steering wheel while still driving when we moved from the gravel road to the highway. He ran out of gas a little while after we hit the highway and we hiked the rest of the way to the bus stop. We caught the bus to Concordia and spent the hot day walking in it and waiting for our evening bus to Iguazu Falls.
2 days ago