South America – (part 3) by Betty Fielding

A catamaran took us across Lake Titicaca to Isla del Sol where we did a lot of step climbing up to see the Shaman for a blessing. Climbing at high altitudes certainly “takes your breath away”. Mind you, the climb was worth it as the vista across the lake to the snow capped Andes was magnificent. Another ride on the catamaran took us to the village of Chua from where we bussed it to La Paz. It was here that we visited a witchcraft market – the majority of locals firmly believe that Inca spirits still guide them through life.

The flight out of La Paz provided brilliant views of the Andes. After almost a full day of flying via Santa Cruz and Sao Paulo we landed in Rio de Janeiro where we stayed right on the beachfront at Copacabana. Copacabana Beach is beautiful and well utilised for sport and recreation – it’s always buzzing. Of course we did the must-do’s in Rio – Christ the Redeemer and Sugarloaf Mountain. In Niteroi we visited the Museum of Modern Art – the building is more intriguing than the art as the design looks like the USS Enterprise from Star Trek.

After a few days we were glad to leave city life behind and flew down to the Iguazu Falls. The falls are made up of around 275 waterfalls spanning the border between Brazil and Argentina along a 2.7km front. We first explored the Brazilian side which offers fantastic views of the falls on the Argentinian side. A helicopter flight over the falls was definitely the “must do” way to view them. We met capuchin monkeys, parana squirrels, coati, toucans and other unique fauna. An inflatable boat ride into the Devil’s Throat comes with the warning that you may get wet from “spray” from the falls – actually you get “swamped” with water from the falls as the water comes over the falls at about 1,750m³ per second. The Iguazu Falls are truly one of nature’s marvels.

A short flight from Iguazu saw us land in Buenos Aires on the banks of the River Plate estuary which is 220km wide. I loved Buenos Aires – the people and the atmosphere are so laid back and friendly. An enjoyable aspect of all travel is meeting the locals and in Buenos Aires we managed to get caught up in a graduation ceremony for music students in a restaurant – as you would expect, the music played after the ceremony was fantastic. The highlight for me in Buenos Aries was the La Boca district – Caminito is a very colourful part of the barrio of La Boca with lots of people and dancing in the streets – Tango, of course!

I very much enjoyed a tour of the Boca Junior Football Stadium and their “Museum of Passion” – football really is a religion in South America. Also very interesting was the Recoleta Cemetery which is 14 acres of tombs set out like a small city. This is where Eva Peron was finally laid to rest in the Duarte family mausoleum in 1976.

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