From the dry desert to the humid jungle, from cobblestone-paved streets to muddy roads, from urban Santiago to Puerto Iguazú —the contrast couldn’t be bigger.
From Valparaíso, we bused back to Santiago. By the time we checked in at the hotel, it was already 3 p.m. and the guys were tired. Feng wanted Mark to nap, I wanted to go out and Mark kept on screaming “outside, outside!”
I left the guys to explore the city one last time for a couple of hours. I didn’t mind the burning hot sun and the heat—I craved it after windy Valparaíso. And I certainly didn’t mind walking around Santiago one last time. I loved the city, its busy pedestrian streets, its people.
Then we went out again, and even though we had promised ourselves we would sleep early, we ended up in bed well past 1 a.m.—even Mark didn’t want to sleep.
The day started too early. At 6 a.m., we were in the taxi, speeding to Comodoro Arturo Merino Benítez International Airport. It was much busier than I had expected considering it was mid-week and very early, but the lineup was long at the LAN counter. “Shit, we are going to miss our flight!” I worried. I was expecting long lines at the immigration and at security, but after the initial slow check-in and bag-drop process, the rest went by very fast. I doubt anyone was actually screening anything—I “smuggled” two lighters on board again, as well as a bottle of milk for Mark.
Once in the air, we slept. For two hours, all of us, but not at the same time so I had to deal with Mark kicking me as I was dozing off.
We landed in Buenos Aires’ Aeroparque Jorge Newbery under pouring rain. This downtown airport is smaller than Ezeiza, used for most international flights, and it felt very cramped. We picked up our bags (completely soaked), got new boarding passes for Puerto Iguazú and waited at the gate. And waited. And waited.
The flight was late, and by the time we boarded, we were hungry, thirsty and tired. Bad news—still on the tarmac, the captain announced that we were delayed another hour. Mark was jumping everywhere asking for “juice” (yeah, well, apple juice doesn’t magically appear in my bag, buddy) and Feng and I sighed.
Small detail: we hadn’t booked any hotel for Puerto Iguazú. The ones listed on Expedia either had bad reviews either were too expensive, so we had decided to take a chance and just figure it out after arriving. But still, we wanted to make it to town before sunset because the perspective of walking around in the dark with our backpacks and a cranky Mark wasn’t too appealing.
We eventually took off. It was a bumpy flight but I didn’t even care. I was too busy trying to sleep and to keep Mark from going crazy. Note to self: wearing shorts in a bad idea for a flight. I was freezing. Flying above the jungle. Oh, the irony!
We landed in a sea of green, picked up our bags and took a taxi to town. Lucky us: the first hotel we checked had a room and it was within our budget.
Welcome to the jungle… our last stop of the trip, at the border of Paraguay, Brazil and Argentina!