Sunday, January 13, 2008

Leaving Iguassu Falls...Entering Salto (January 12, 2008)

I spent the evening of Jan. 11 on a night bus from Iguassu Falls (Argentina) to Salto (Uruguay). The South American night bus experience is worth a mention: we traveled on a double-decker bus with reclining seats, pillows and blankets. We were served coffee or whiskey, followed by dinner with wine or soda, topped off with champagne. As you might imagine, some people take advantage of all the free alcohol to help speed the trip along. Most people sit back and watch an American movie with subtitles (ours was "Oceans 13") and try to sleep as much as possible.

Our previous nightbus experience was quite different: no reclining seats; stops in the middle of the night in the middle of nowhere. The one common attribute was the not-so-nice toilet.

My final thoughts on Brazil (based on Rio, Ilha Grande, Paraty and Iguassu Falls): Brazil is a country that is full of life. Its landscapes and cityscapes are vibrant and colorful; its people are passionate and uninhibited. Most everyone is friendly and helpful. The streets and beaches are bustling with people; and even when they're not, they still hum with energy. The sun is scorching, and the storms are electrifying. Brazil is a country of superlatives.

My initial impression of Salto, Uruguay: Everything here is more relaxed. The temperature and humidity are lower; the traffic is slower; the streets are less crowded. Parents sit on park benches watching their children rollerskate or play soccer in the plaza. Families spend Saturday afternoon at the hot springs. A group of old men meet for dinner at an outdoor cafe; a grandmother walks home from evening mass. It's a welcome respite from the hustle and bustle of the previous weeks. Some photos of Salto:

A man reads the newspaper at a Salto cafe
Two girls stop for fresh juice outside the local hotsprings
Salto's main cathedral

Two women enjoy the warm evening air near the Rio Uruguay

Motorbikes lined up to deliver pizzas around town

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