Iguazú and Buenos Aires (part 2)
"Thursday, June 3, 2004"
As I had a late flight to Toronto to catch my flight to Santiago and Buenos Aires, I went in to the office for a while. Mostly I finished up details and grabbed files and things I wanted to take with me. I left mid-afternoon to go home and finish packing. Eventually, I was ready and it was time to go. First, though, I had to go back near my office to pick up my husband whom I had left without the vehicle and who was driving me to the airport! I got to the airport in plenty of time and at about the same time as my two colleagues. We checked in uneventfully and eventually went to the gate to await our flight to Toronto.
Once in Toronto, we had some time so went to the lounge for a bit of food and a drink. Eventually, it was getting on for 23:30 and time for our flight. We settled in nicely and embarked on our long flight. We did eventually get some dinner on the flight to Santiago.
Friday, June 4
By the time we got to Santiago, it was the next morning, and not all that early the next morning. We had all thought Air Canada was a little stingy with the coffee, so we were looking for a bit more. Unfortunately, Star Alliance does not have a lounge at Santiago. Fortunately for us, however, one of our colleagues has a membership in one of the places that does and was able to bring in two guests. We had a very tasty coffee and took refuge from the general smoking area that the rest of the airport seems to be. Eventually, it was time for us to get back on our plane and go the rest of the way to Buenos Aires, where we arrived at 15:05. We made our way to our hotel - the Hotel Apart Recoleta.
We settled in a little, then went out for another little look around Recoleta. We stayed in the same hotel we'd stayed in during our visit in November 2001. We had arranged to meet with some local colleagues who work in the Canadian Embassy in Buenos Aires so at the appointed time, we met them and headed our for a coffee. We had a great chat about what we had come down for as well as what they are doing in the Embassy. After that, we headed off for our dinner reservation. We went to a fabulous steak house: Cabana las lilas [? Puerto Madero ]. We sat on the heated patio, overlooking the canal and had a fabulous meal with wine, appetizers, dessert and after-dinner drinks for around $US30 each! We eventually made our way back to our hotel, looking forward to a great sleep before heading north.
"Saturday, June 5"
The next morning, I was feeling a little the worse for wear as a result of over-indulgence the night before. However, we had places to go and people to see. After some breakfast, we got a car to take us to the domestic airport - Aeroparque Jorge Newbery. Apparently the airport is named after an Argentine aviator, Jorge Alejandro Newbery (1875-1914) who was significant to Argentine Aeronautical history. Once we got to the airport, we checked in and headed to our gate. Once there, we sat down and waited. Before too long, some colleagues from Australia and New Zealand who were headed to the same meeting as we were, arrived. The first meet and greet! We had a good chat and soon it was time to board the plane.
After about 1.5 hours, we arrived at Iguazu. We soon met with our local contact, who is actually from Bariloche. We met a couple of actual local contacts who were helping with the meeting and taking participants to the hotel. Once we had our luggage, we were off to Parque Nacional Iguazu [ http://www.iguazuargentina.com/ ] and our home for the next week: Sheraton Internacional Iguazu Resort [Parque Nacional Iguazu, Iguazu 3370, Argentina; tel: (54) (3757) 491800; fax: (54) (3757) 491848; http://www.starwood.com/sheraton/search/hotel_detail.html?requestedChainCode=SI&requestedAffiliationCode=SI&goToRooms=yes&lengthOfStay=1&numberOfRooms=1&numberOfAdults=1&arrivalDate=2004-05-17&departureDate=2004-05-18&rpoi=&propertyID=1152&rcdi=&linkbrand=&fromSearch=22XX&sherlockRatePlanID=&sherlockMiniRate=&sherlockRoomType=&sherlockBedType=&iATANumber=&corporateAccountNumber=&propertyDistance=&propertyDistanceInUnits=&requestType=page&page=&ratePlanName=&roomOccupancyTotal=1 ]. While none of us had rooms with a view of the falls, we did have occasion to see them every morning at breakfast! One thing I noticed on the way to the park/hotel was all the butterflies! It seemed an amazing number of them, little and big. Very impressive!
I spent a little time settling into my room, and then went for a walk to see the falls with some of the other folks. Pretty spectacular! We took the Circuito Inferior (lower circuit) down to the bottom of the Argentine falls, then the Circuito Superior (upper circuit) to the tops of several of the falls. We saw a bunch of individual falls (saltos): Alvar Nunez, Dos Hermanas, Bossetti, Bernabe Mendez, Mbigua. Other falls that we could see but not get to included San Martin, Escondido and Revadavia.
After that long walk, we returned to the hotel, happy for the opportunity to sit on the balcony and have a cerveza (beer), or 2!
About 20:30, we met to head into town - Puerto Iguazu - for dinner. Our local member took us to a place with bar-b-cue, where we ate, drank and were merry. We eventually got back to the hotel after midnight!
"Sunday, June 6"
I got up about 8:00 and went for breakfast. While I didn't see many colleagues while I was eating, they started filtering in later so I didn't get back to my room until about 10:30. We had a general plan to for those who needed to, to work in the morning and then go see more falls in the afternoon. I spent some time in my room and on my balcony, organizing myself and my stuff and writing in my journal. I also saw a few toucans and took their photos. Eventually, I headed downstairs about lunchtime to see what was up. I eventually found some folks and we had some lunch at the hotel.
By about 14:30, we headed over to the train station: Estacion Cataratas (Cataratas Station) and caught the 15:00 train to see the gorge. The train headed over to Estacion Gargenta del Diablo (Garganta del Diablo Station) and from there we had a bit of a walk over a catwalk to the lookouts at the Garganta del Diablo (or Devil's Gorge). The gorge actually consists of a couple of falls: Salto Santa Maria and Salto Union. It's all very impressive with lots of spray from the falls and the breeze.
Some of us managed to get back to the station to catch the 16:00 train back to the first station. We met one of our other colleagues there and sat down to have a beer in the sun while we waited for the tardy ones. Eventually, they got back and we returned to the hotel. I read for a while, then got ready and went to the informal get-together, where we had the chance to meet and greet all our colleagues from around the world who had finally arrived. We would be missing only one person (from China). We had a nice gathering with some beverages and snacks. Eventually, it was over and time to get some sleep so we would be fresh for the beginning of the meeting on Monday.
"Monday, June 7"
So we started our meeting bright and early at 09:30 Monday morning. This meeting went for 4 days, but I'll touch on some highlights. After we finished our work on the first day, several of us went for cerveza and a look at the view from the patio before dinner and bed.
Tuesday, June 8
Before the meeting started, several people went up on the roof to watch the transit of Venus. While I didn't go (wasn't too sure of the time or arrangements), I did get a chance to see a photo taken by one of them through a telescope. Pretty neat!
We were a little more business-like today, starting at 09:00. We worked pretty steadily until the end of day, when we again went for cerveza and a look at the view from the patio. This evening, however, I retired to my room for dinner and work.
Wednesday, June 9
We started at 09:00 again this morning, got through quite a bit of work and then we quit early so several of us could take the boat ride into the falls. Part of the boat tour was also a truck ride through the jungle with a guide talking about the forest plants and animals. After returning to the hotel safe and sound and a shower to remove the river water, we headed into town for dinner and a show. The dinner was delicious and the show was a small troupe of musicians who played more or less continuously for the whole time we were there. Very impressive!
Thursday, June 10
Today we managed to get started at 08:45 - time is running out! We worked through until 19:18 or so, but we managed to get everything finished to a point where we will be able to finalize things by e-mail. Always important. After returning to my room with all my stuff, I eventually went to find people to have a celebratory beer. Turned out everyone was up on the roof of the hotel. There was quite a lightning storm taking place and it provided a great view. We went under the roof for awhile when it rained and a couple of us retreated under the roof when the lightning seemed too close. It was a pretty spectacular finale to the meeting, though! When the storm had passed and some of us noticed we were getting hungry, we headed inside and down to the restaurant.
"Friday, June 11"
Good thing we managed to start a little early yesterday, as today we had to get together for the field trip, leaving the hotel at 08:30. We headed off to visit a vertically integrated sawmill that is FSC-certified. We also went saw a few stands of hybrid pine of the company. Along the way, we also saw some ecologically restored areas and a mature plantation of Araucaria angustifolia (I love Monkey Puzzle!)
After tromping around in very sticky red mud, we went for lunch at the Las Brisas Hotel near Puerto Esperanza. It was very nice.
After lunch, we transferred to the sawmill of the same company we had visited in the morning. Later, we went to see a Yerba Mate Plantation, as well as a Yerba mate drying facility. Very interesting. Then, we transferred to a stones shop in Wanda. After several people had bought stones of various sorts, we returned to the hotel. There, we had a final beer together before going off for dinner. A great field trip!
"Saturday, June 12"
Up around 08:00 and down for one last breakfast buffet with a fabulous view. Eventually said goodbyes to colleagues and taxis to the airport at 11:00. Checked in and eventually flew back to Buenos Aires. Once in BA, we headed to our hotel, checked in then headed out for a bit of a wander and shop. In particular, we went to a couple of wine store. The last one, Frappe was just near the Recoleta cemetery and there, we sat down for a bit of a snack and some wine-tasting. All three of us ended up buying some lovely Malbec wines. We have to have a BBQ soon to test them out!
About 20:00, we met again and grabbed a taxi to take us back to Cabana las lilas for another fabulous dinner! We got back to the hotel again, not too late and tried to catch some shut-eye.
"Sunday, June 13"
Got up bright and early Sunday (08:00). We finally headed down to the Teatro Colon for a tour about 11:00. What an amazing theatre! We learned if we would been there Sunday afternoon, we could have seen the dress rehearsal for a ballet to be performed on Tuesday night. Too bad! After our tour, we headed across the street for a coffee, then walked to Puerto Madero, saw our favourite restaurant again, then grabbed a taxi back to the hotel to meet up with our car to the airport.
It turned out to be a good thing we showed up at the airport reasonably early. While checking in to the airline was not a problem, there was a huge line-up at the security check-in. That long line-up fed into another long line-up at passport control. We did eventually get through and headed to the Star Alliance lounge for a brief visit before we had to go prepare to board our plane. Once we had boarded the plane and were comfortably seated, we learned that the departure of the flight would be delayed due to passengers held up in security! They should have got there earlier! We ended up being late leaving Buenos Aires, late getting into Santiago, then late leaving Santiago again. Probably due to our losing our place in line due to our late arrival/departure.
"Monday, June 14"
Since we were late leaving Santiago, we were late getting into Toronto. After fitful sleep, what with being in a plane, I finally woke at about 06:00 - in time for breakfast before we arrived in Toronto. As a result of our leaving Buenos Aires late (due to people held up at security/passport control), and leaving Santiago late (due to late arrival), we arrived in Toronto late. Fortunately for us, flights to Ottawa go every hour, so we had already been confirmed for the next one. That gave us a chance in Toronto to have a bit more coffee and a chance to stretch our legs, before our last little flight to Ottawa.
We arrived about 10:30 and I got a taxi home and started on laundry - what fun! The weather had warmed up during our absence - looking forward to summer! I will miss the steaks, though!