Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Posadas - Back to Argentina Again

Night time toads on the Costanera, Posadas

After 4 nights in Foz it was time to move on and get back to Argentina.  The border crossing was a breeze.  To sum up how friendly the people of Brazil are, the customs officer who dealt with my papers had a conversation with me about my trip, told me life is good in Brazil and suggested I get a job there and stay.  Never have I come across that, border guards encouraging you to stay in their country.

So then back in Argentina for the third time in this trip and I really wanted to get all the way back to Corrientes and see some friends for the weekend.  I also wanted to visit the Ibera del Estero, a huge wetland area literally overrun by giant guinea pigs the size of dogs.  They are really called Capybara, but if you google them you’ll see what I mean.  I thought it would be surreal to see that, but it was all a bit too far this time.  Instead I set my sights on Posadas, a city a little nearer and was very lucky to have a very last minute couchsurf request accepted by Julia, which turned out to be a good but short trip.  Posadas is a small city up the Rio Parana from Corrientes and is the capital of Misiones province.  Its very close to Paraguay, which you can see on the other side of the river and there is an international bridge connecting Corrientes to the Paraguayan city of Encarnacion.  

Misiones, its kinda green here
While I was in Posadas I visited the Yacreta Dam project after several people suggested I see it.  I didn’t really know what to expect and as it was 100km away it wasn’t exactly on my doorstep.  But it’s a free tour and I’ve not seen inside a dam before so I thought why not.  It was worth a visit, but a strange experience all the same as there were only 2 others on my tour, so more staff than visitors.  It was really professionally organised and a lot has been spent on it.  There is a presentation then a guide shows you around and finally you get driven in a coach around the dam and then actually inside to see the turbines.  The last part is so vast it feels as though you are on the Death Star.  The tour was all very positive but it felt like they were not telling the whole story.  I found out later that the tour is a public relations ploy and that the project is hands down one of the worse engineering disasters ever and was called a “monument to corruption” by the Argentine President of all people.  Someone definitely didn’t do their homework - its taken more than 20 years to build, gone 5 times over budget and only produces 60% of the estimated energy.  Its suffered from delays, disputes, corruption, caused 50,000 people to lose their homes and environmental impact assessments were not completed before beginning so several species are now extinction.  Upon reflection the only positive thing I can see from it all was the guided tour itself.  

During the tour they let you play with power lines
Touring the "Death Star", look in the bottom left - its so large the workers use bikes to get around
Anyway probably enough about dams…Posadas itself is great.  I could see myself staying there a long time, trouble is I didn’t have time so I only stayed at Julia’s one full day.  Despite this Julia still managed to show me and Giovanni (another couchsurfer) around and introduced me to Chipa, cheesy bread from the area and we drank a lot of Terere, which is mate with fruit juice and I’m seriously addicted to it, no really, can’t stop.  We went out to along the riverside costanera both nights.  If you didn’t know this already, all Argentines of all ages in every city love to hang out at their costinera.  They walk, run, eat, meet friends, party, the lot here.  Its a real social place, we just don’t have the same in England, maybe because we call it a promenade but most likely because of the weather.  The costinera in Posadas is new and has city beaches too and I really liked the atmosphere here, so relaxed, but perhaps the strangest thing was the number of toads that hop around all over the place.  Big ugly buggers too.  I took a load of photos of them as they bounced about at night.  So Posadas, yet another place I liked, and the fact that not many tourists visit means I could see a city that just gets on with its own life.  I was reluctant to leave so quickly, but if I am ever to make it to Patagonia I need to get my act together.   

At the costanera with Julia, Chipa y Terere
Night time shots of the costanera
With Julia and Giovanni
Finally a part of the world where my bike is not considered small
The countryside near Yacreta, where Gauchos still roam

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