Tag Archives: argentina
August 17, 2009

PV003: The Grand Adventure

Continuing where we left off with the Iguazú episode of last week, here’s the first one of those park vignettes I told you about.

While we were contemplating what to do on our second day in the park, a Ukrainian cab driver named Andres recommended a tour called La Gran Aventura.  We’d seen brochures and advertisements all over, translated into English as The Big Adventure, The Great Adventure, or The Grand Adventure (It’s probably the worst actual translation, but I liked “grand” because it sounded the most poetic.)

The cost of the tour was 150 pesos per person, about $50 U.S.  We were worried about spending so much for what was really just a slightly different view of the park, but it became one of the highlights of this part of the trip.  I think the post-trip DVD they sell for 90 pesos ($30 U.S.) was kind of a rip-off, but it turned out to be invaluable when we told sat down to tell our story here… (more…)

August 10, 2009

PV002: Iguazú, Argentina

Okay, here we go.  Oksana and I have started to explore how we want to do these video podcasts.  Our plan was to do no more than 5 minutes per episode, but in our first go with the waterfalls of Iguazú, we ended up recording over 40 minutes of voiceover material!  Sorting through that and 3 hours of footage made for a slow editing process.  (The good news is that, after this week’s “overview,” I’ve got material for 2 or 3 more “vignettes” from our trip through the park.)

We’re still firmly in the “Oh-no-I-don’t-really-sound-like-that-do-I?!” phase of recording ourselves and it’s very hard for us to be objective.  You could really help us out by giving us a little feedback as we go!  Just answer two questions for me:

1)  What did you like about this video?
2)  What didn’t you like about this video?

We are especially interested in the opinions of people who don’t know us personally!


June 18, 2009

The Devil’s Throat

The Devil's Throat, Panorama, Iguazú, Argentina

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La Garganta del Diablo: The Devil’s Throat.

To get to the highlight of Iguazú, you have to take a short train ride through the upper reaches of the park.  Above the waterfalls, the jungle gives way to long flat stretches of river.  Even though the water spreads almost as far as the eye can see in every direction, the mind can’t reconcile the raging torrents of the waterfalls below with the calm expanses of the water above.

A metal catwalk stretches just over a kilometer from the end of the train tracks to the platform above their featured attraction.  Oksana and I let our fellow train passengers rush past us while we took pictures of butterflies and birds.  We were in no rush and we realized that if we didn’t have to catch the very next train back, we could have the end platform almost to ourselves before the next gaggle of tourists arrived.

The view, when you finally reach it, answers any questions you might have about the naming of “The Devil’s Throat.”  Water comes out of the jungle from three directions, finds every edge of the semi-circular cliff, and plunges over the edge.  Clouds of water vapor periodically explode out of the white abyss, forming rainbows in their wake.  Tiny swifts flit everywhere, in and out of their nests in the small caves hidden away below.  The railing is perched right on the edge; in certain places you can lean out and look straight down into the maelstrom.

Oksana and I made the trip out to La Garganta twice, making a mental note to visit in the late afternoon after the sun fell behind our backs (and our camera lens).

We must have taken dozens (if not hundreds) of photos from different areas on the platform.  This one is, again, a stitched panorama from about 15 actual photos.  Some of the rainbows we captured were much more vibrant, but of course that was because the mist was in full effect and obscuring the waterfalls.

The building hidden in the trees on the other side of the falls, only a few hundred yards away, is a part of Iguaçu, the Brazilian side of the park.  In the full-resolution version, you can actually make out the swifts in the mist.  Also, I cropped a significant portion of the panorama out, but I left in just a tiny piece of water cascading over the edge in the lower left-hand corner.  It’s an almost subliminal hint of just how close to the edge we were.

Canon Digital Rebel XT
Date: 13 November 2008
Focal Length: 18mm
Shutter: 1/1000 second
Aperture: F/7.1
ISO: 100
Photoshop: Stitched 15 photos in Autostitch, cropped, cloned out arm and water bottle from railing

Just for fun, I’ve included the un-retouched version of what I cropped out after the jump, plus a bookmark in Google Maps for a sense of scale… (more…)

June 7, 2009

Iguazú Falls

Iguazú Panorama

It’s hard to describe nature’s power on display in Iguazú.    Any one of the waterfalls in the park is worth seeing and the views where a good portion of them are in sight are simply staggering.  Before visiting Argentina, I’d read somewhere that the average amount of water plunging over the cliffs in Iguazú is triple that of Niagara Falls.  I’ve never been to Niagara, so I didn’t know what to expect.

If you like anticipation and escalation before your reveals like we do, I think Oksana and I happened upon the perfect way to see the park.  Early on our first day, we decided to walk along the isolated Sendero Macuco, hoping the quiet of the morning would reveal more wildlife.  It did.  Besides the ever-present lizards, butterflies, and biting insects, we also glimpsed a couple of rodents (small capybaras or perhaps cuy), a monkey, and a rather large and intimidating snake.

From there, we hiked back into the park, took a few pictures of the Coatis among the tourists, and embarked on what they call the “Lower Trail.”  Huge waterfalls intersected the trail, raging white water often directly under the metal catwalk beneath our feet.  With their twists and turns, intermittent spray-rainbows, and deep booming bass, they were impressive enough… but they were also just solitary streams.

And then, as we continued along the Lower Trail, we spotted the towering falls in the distance along the Brazil side of the park.  Our wonder increased alongside the number of photos we took, but it was only when we rounded the next corner, came up against the Argentine view you see above, that we thought we had witnessed the best Iguazú had to offer.

We waited patiently while the ebb and flow of camera-bearing tourists passed and finally, when we had the short balcony to ourselves, I took a series of photos in burst mode, expecting to stitch them into a panorama later.

It wasn’t easy to select the first photo to show of Iguazú (I have a folder of 452.)  I do like the foreground elements here, they lend a sort of frame to the composition, but as we kept walking through the park, along the Upper Trail, we found views from the tops of those same waterfalls that rivaled this one.  And we were wrong about this being the climactic view of the park.  It was bettered twice again: Once when we took a boat right into the spray coming off one of these behemoths, and then again when we stood on the edge of La Garganta del Diablo: The Devil’s Throat.

Canon Digital Rebel XT
Date: 12 November 2008
Focal Length: 18mm
Shutter: 1/400 second
Aperture: F/7.1
ISO: 100
Photoshop: Stitched from 4 images, cropped, minor color correction

Oksana and I have decided to do our first podcast video on Iguazú.  Hopefully we’ll have something to show by the end of June.

April 21, 2009

Thoughts on Argentina

Arlo with his bistec al caballo

I did an awful lot of traveling last year – so much that I never really had the time to sit down, decompress, and write up some of my thoughts.  Driving across the country, Argentina, Peru… part of me wants to put them on my blog in chronological order, but I think it makes more sense to work backwards.  Freshest memories to… well, Moleskin notes. In November, Oksana and I spent three week in Argentina.  We had the great fortune to have two sets of friends down there, in Buenos Aires and in the country near Córdoba.  Surprisingly, we spent most of our time speaking English rather than Spanish.  Not that you need to speak Spanish to learn a few things about Argentina. Beef: It’s What’s for Dinner (and Dessert) Argentina loves steak.  No, really.  You could go the same restaurant for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, order a steak each time, and no one would bat an eye.  For a carnivore like me, this is a beautiful thing. (more…)

November 25, 2008

Transient Books

This is an experiment.  I’m very interested in getting feedback.

Also, visit Transient Books.


February 24, 2005

Good Friends, Good Times

Posing for a picture with Alex and MaguIf I had my way, I’d keep all my friends nearby – I’m selfish that way – but I can’t deny that there’s something special about reconnecting with people that have been out of touch. Absence does indeed make the heart grow fonder.

Two weeks ago today, a friend sent me a link to a Juneau Empire article. That morning, the newspaper had published a story about an Argentinean couple who were spending a week in Juneau. There was mention of a poetry reading and solo concert at a local plant store, but otherwise it seemed like filler for a very slow news day.

Well, thank God for slow news days! The Argentinean couple turned out to be Magú and Alex Appella – Spanish teachers and friends whom I hadn’t seen in almost three over five years! Before I’d even finished reading the article, I had mentally rearranged my schedule to fit in the “concert” at The Plant People. The only problem was that I had to wait through 36 long hours. That evening after work, I told Oksana the big news and she picked up instantly on my excitement. She was more than happy to go with me to the show and meet the people I’ve often talked about.