OMG!!! Overnight bus was literally hell on wheels. We've decided they should market it as a mobile weight-loss sauna. The entertainment system didn't work, but bigger issue is that we had no air conditioning for the 1st 8 hours, and the windows steamed up on the inside.
The “bus attendant” (I don’t know if that’s what they’re really called, but it seems appropriate), handed out what ended up being a better meal than we’d expected. We were told to think airplane food, but we had some good empanadas plus sandwiches etc. Not too bad.
One of our guys finally went and got Zema (our tour leader) to see if anything could be done, since we couldn’t even seem to open the small ventilation windows. It turned out that there were hidden pins preventing people from opening them, but the bus attendant finally pulled the pins and opened the windows. That helped, but made the people right by the windows had some pretty harsh winds straight on them. Enzo & Emilie were behind one, so he put on his headphones, wrapped a sweatshirt around his neck, mimed shivering and said "Thanks a lot guys!" We couldn't help but laugh.
Zema said that there was only one window on the lower deck, and the woman sitting by it simply said she didn’t like the wind, and pulled the curtain across it. Zema offered to swap seats with her, because the others were roasting, but she wouldn’t even to that. Amazing isn’t it?
David & Elenora borrowed my laptop to watch “Taken” (great recommendation Michele – Thanks!) since they were right behind an open window that could keep it cool. I was in the front and sweltering, so I watched another movie on the iPod since the heat really wouldn’t bother it. So glad I wimped out and brought both with me. They’ve been a godsend on these long bus trips since I could have the combined battery life for entertainment.
Sometime after 3am we made a stop for fuel and to see if the air could be fixed, our group seemed to wake up and wander off the bus a few at a time. Too bad there aren't any photos. It wasn't very pretty. I was walking laps and jumping around just trying to get blood flowing in my legs after sitting still for so long. It took them about 45 minutes, but they finally got the air working (HALLELUJAH!!!), so we were back on the road at 4am. YIPPEE!! When it finally came on, they cranked the air up so high that it ended up being a little chilly. Needless to say, none of us were going to say anything.
After we got to the bus station on the Argentinian side, I promptly stepped off a curb that was taller than I realized and completely busted. Luckily I'm fine, but I certainly felt a bit stupid. (Grace is definitely not my middle name.) Once we got our bags, we loaded up a minivan for our border crossing to Brazil, and on to our hotel. Mind you – this was now our THIRD mode of transport since we left the hotel yesterday.
We were all running for the showers at the hotel, but while I was in the shower, the AC started pouring water on my suitcase & carry on. My roomies moved them, but it was already a mess. The joys of travel...
I had never been up in a Helicopter, but wouldn’t have traded my flight over Victoria Falls in an Ultra-light for anything, so I went for it. The sensation was very different from a plane, and made me a little nervous at first, but the closer we got to the falls, the less I was thinking about that. Getting to view the falls from that perspective was amazing, especially after having seen it from the ground before. Most impressive, so do it if you ever have the chance.
Then the pilot banked sharply (it scared the poo out of me for a second there) to come around and let those of us sitting on the other side have a better view of the falls. Just as we settled into position for me to take photos, my camera battery died. Come on!! REALLY??!! Luckily I remembered stowing an extra one in my bag and changed it as quickly as I could. I think I still managed to get in a few good photos before we were totally out of range. That was good fun, and I’m glad that I did it.
When Margie and I were here 9 years ago, we couldn’t get Brazilian visas arranged in time to be able to see this side of the falls, so I was pretty excited. Only 20% of the falls are in Brazil, but that also means that they have some spectacular views of the Argentinean falls. The trails were much shorter, but they had some viewing platforms, which were amazingly close to the falls. The roar was incredible. They also have an elevator, which took you up to a higher vantage point for viewing. The thing I found a little frustrating is that when you’re on the catwalks, some groups of people come across 4-5 wide, and won’t let anyone pass in the other direction, and get pissy when you try to get by them. I was thinking, “I’m already as wet as I’d like to be, so I want to get out of the spray now.” So I was rude and just forced my way through them.
We went for a really lovely dinner that night. I had filet mignon with madiera sauce. I wasn’t 100% sure what to expect, except that I knew there would be steak & mushrooms. It actually turned out to be one of the best dishes at the table. The sauce was amazing.