We came to Iguacu to see the falls. Apparently the vast majority of tourists/travelers take a day trip across the Brazilian border to the side looking back at Argentina, as this is where the best views and most of the infrastructure are.
Let me tell you a little something about us. We don’t do packages. We don’t do tours. We kinda fly by the seat of our pants and roll with the punches and let adventure happen to us.
We did not do that this time.
My husband arranged a very detailed and amazing itinerary through a travel agent, who assured us that everything was taken care of and our visas and details were all in order.
Turned out, this was not accurate.
The day we attempted to arrive in Brazil for a day tour was the day that something called “reciprocity tax” for every American, Canadian and Australian citizen was instated.
Canadian, American and Australian citizens also need a visa to enter Brazil.
We met our tour, which consisted of a miserable and complaining Kiwi couple, and a slightly less miserable and complaining Australian couple, and a very small green-eyed tour guide.
The tour guide asked me in the morning if I had my visa for Brazil.
I simply responded:
“Well I must do as this is a package deal and we were assured before we left that everything was in order.”
And away we went.
She then asked me about the reciprocity tax.
I parroted off the same response.
We were neither advised of, nor had the visas or reciprocity tax been handled.
So Argentina let me out of Argentina, and Brazil would not let me in.
Then I was stuck in no-man’s land as I had not paid the reciprocity tax yet, and the only way to do so was on-line and there was no Internet.
I had wasted about 30-40 minutes of the other traveler’s time by now, as the tour guide was stuck with no idea what to do about my paperwork. At this point I insisted that I be let out of the bus to sort out the matter while the tour carried on.
As I have grown accustomed to, the Argentinians at the border, were typically relaxed, and basically pretty friendly. They could not, however let me back in without my tax being paid, and the total lack on Internet connection made that impossible at the border.
A guide/translator was sent to meet Grumpy and myself, and they arrived, then had to leave.
Another translator arrived a while later and carried on with us through the adventure that ensued.
Grumpy had to get a lift into town, find an Internet café to complete and print the documentation.
He then found out that the office for the Brazilian Visa had a cut-off of 10am for applications, and it was already early afternoon.
We soldiered on.
All the documents were printed, and I am currently the proud owner of a 5 year reciprocity tax waiver document which is valid for multiple entries and exits to and from Argentina.
Against my advice, Grumpy called the agent even though it was 2:00am in NZ.
Nothing was able to be done until morning NZ time at any rate.
So we ran around, and had a lovely time getting to know our translator, and swapping stories about our experiences with different people, different cultures, different Spanish accents and dialects etc. We have become firm friends, and as fate would have it, she is traveling to Australia and now, perhaps, New Zealand for a visit very soon. We will stay in touch and have become firm friends.
After being dropped back at the hotel, we had a little pout then decided to go have a massage and a facial.
On the way up from the massage we ran into our tour.
The guide was exceptionally apologetic, and I feigned anger for as long as I could manage (about 30 seconds) and quickly explained that we firmly believe that everything happens for a reason, and there would be a positive outcome, but MAN what a DRAMA!!
I later ordered some champagne to drown our sorrows and we spent the whole night hanging out with and talking to an intelligent, gorgeous and well traveled couple of cousins who lived in Belgium and Singapore and were traveling together. Two more firm friends were made that day.
After a bit of to-ing and fro-ing I also managed to convince Grumpy that we needn’t bother with Brazil at all this time and we found out that we were heading back to Buenos Aires!
ALL GOOD STUFF!
The next day, we got up early enough to go for a walk around the falls on the Argentine side.
They were BEAUTIFUL!
Got back for the transfer ten minutes late as our flight was at 1:20pm and the pick up was at 10:30am and we got lost on the way back.
The miserable Kiwi woman huffed and puffed and rolled her eyes.
The tour guide checked in and found out that the we were indeed meant to leave at 1:20pm and her information was that the flight was at 12:15.
We were also delayed at least another hour and a half, so good thing we got there early!
In the airport lounge, while everyone was waiting together without air conditioning in the hot humid rain forest weather, the mean lady came up and verbally attacked me.
She said that everything was my fault, and I ruined her vacation and everyone on the tour and in the Hotel HATED me and she thought I should know that. There were many more sweeping insults and when she took a breath I asked her:
“Do you feel better?”
And she said haughtily “YES I DO!”
And I replied: “well that makes me happy, because I like to know that people are happy.”
She then went to TOWN with her abuse and called me childish and stupid and a wide variety of other things.
My retaliation to this was:
“You are welcome to think all of that, and that makes me sad for you, but I know I am good and kind and beautiful and generous, and we made friends that appreciate us just the way we are while you complained.”
It was tough to be the bigger person.
At some point I also apologized for her situation and explained that the travel agent, tour guides and agency all accepted responsibility, and mistakes happen and we understood that.
She really actually hurt and scared me.
But now that she is gone and I am snuggled in writing words that will be read by people who I Love and respect, I feel like Karma and the universe work. I feel quite sad for her and others like her who must complain and hold so much hate and anger and blame, blame, BLAME when they could be looking around for the good in situations.
At any rate.
We are safe and sound in Buenos Aires and have some great stories to share with everyone when we get home.
Life is wonderful, we are blessed, travel means things sometimes go wrong, and they sure did yesterday.
Still feel content, and grateful and ready for our next adventure.
Also kinda blown away by the effect I have and the hatred that people are capable of feeling towards me and my energy and positivity.
As I said to mean lady:
“People like you hating me, is actually a huge compliment, so thank you for that.”
And smiled and walked away.
And she’ll get no more of my thoughts or worry me another moment. I doubt she’ll be able to do the same.
And I talked to over a dozen people from our cruise and our hotel as we waited together in that room. And not one of them hated me. Quite the opposite, in fact. So she wasn’t just mean, she was grossly inaccurate.
See you all again soon I hope!