Great Adventure


This blog entry about the events of Monday, February 09, 2004 was originally posted on February 13, 2004.

DAY 114:  When Lara and I signed up for a tour of the Argentine side of Iguazu Falls with the Hostelling International office, we spent the extra 10 real on a tour called “Gran Aventura” that included both a truck and boat ride.  Like the Six Flags theme park with the English translation of the tour name, the tour included a wet and wild ride through the roaring rapids of the Rio Iguazu.

Seventeen of us from the Brazilian hostel — most in their college years, born 1981 or later — hopped on a bus clearly marked “TURISMO” on its side in huge letters.  The driver, a happy Argentine man named João Paulo who joked about only letting girls on the bus and no guys.  He drove us to a supermarket near the border, waving and honking at all the passers-by with the familiar “Shave and a haircut” melody, always completed by the other person with the “two bits” part.

After a brief but uneventful border crossing — and one hour back in time with the time zones — we were transported to Argentina.  It was great to be back in a Spanish-speaking country where the signs looked familiar again.

João continued his “Shave and a Haircut” drive through the border town of Cataratas, to the point of the “tres fronteras” where one could see the national towers of Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina at the same time.  From there we went to the entrance of the national park where we split up — most in the group without the truck tour, and me, Lara and a Scotsman named Jaime in the “Great Adventure” one.  Before the adventure started, Jaime and I visited the nearby museum where I learned about the poisonous black, red and yellow butterfly to avoid.

Lara, Jaime and I joined the handful of other and got aboard the 4x4 transport vehicle that took us on a relaxing drive throug the subtropical rainforest — most of which was pretty boring unless palm trees excite you.  After a 20-minute lack-of-animal safari, we arrived at Puerto Machcu, where we donned on life vests for the real adventure:  a motorized raft ride up the Rio Iguazu.  Unlike the “Roaring Rapids” ride at Six Flags’ Great Adventure, all the drenching waterfalls were all powered by nature.

The captain took us up close to the San Martin, Mendea and Mbigua Falls for a photo opp and then up against the current of the river and under the Dos Mosqueteros Falls for a soak.  Swinging around we went back to and under the tremendous San Martin Falls where nothing in the raft stayed dry unless it was in one of the plastic bags they had provided us with.

JAIME RAN OFF TO CATCH A FLIGHT and so it was just Lara and I who dried out on the rocks with a homemade sandwich picnic.  Afterwards, we still had a good five hours to kill in the park and took a boat to the Isla San Martin — supposedly the only island in the world surrounded by falls — and trekked to an outlook point of the San Martin Falls.  We trekked around the island — on the way, Lara stopped for a “bush piss” in the woods and got startled by a rustling in the leaves (hoping it wasn’t a ferocious quati); and we had a sighting of the poisonous butterfly I learned about that morning (we avoided it).

Back on the mainland of Argentina, we trekked up to the Bossetti Falls and stopped off at a sidewalk cafe to write some notes — only to end up distracted and attacked by a swarm of bees invading anyone with a soda can.  We took the mini-train to the far side of the park, where we saved the best for last:  a catwalk that led to an observation deck overlooking the Devil’s Throat (picture above), where millions of gallons of water spilled from higher to lower ground.  We made our way through the pushy photographers and managed to take photos ourselves.  Mist filled the canyon as a rainbow appeared out of thin air.

The trail we did afterwards wasn’t nearly as impressive so we just rushed through it and head back towards the entrance as the day was getting late.  Instead of taking the train back to the main station, we walked a short trail, stopping for photo moments along the way:  one of Lara’s Wari people dolls on the train tracks a la the 1986 movie Stand By Me, one with Lara doing a cartwheel; and one of me spinning around in a circle twelve times like a four-year-old until I was too dizzy to stand straight.  (Why don’t adults do this more often?)

We met up with the four British college girls from our hostel at the pizzeria in the food court and then went back to the TURISMO bus.  It was easy to find when João did his signature “Shave and a Haircut” melody.

WE WAITED A GOOD FORTY MINUTES FOR THOSE WHO CAME LATE — João psyched them out by driving away for a bit when they approached so we could see them run — and then zoomed back over to Brazil and back to the future of one hour.  We continued the festivities that night at the poolside bar with the rest of the big group that had gone to Argentina that day and some other newcomers to the hostel camp.  Amongst the many rounds of drinks, Lara and I confirmed that most “cool” people were born before 1981, although there were a couple of exceptions on both sides.

The festivities went on all night and until morning for some — all part of this complete Great Adventure.

Next entry: Dumb and Dumber Day

Previous entry: When Quatis Attack!

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Comments for “Great Adventure”

  • ...biggest one in 4 counties… - cool stand by me pic

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/13  at  12:36 PM

  • first baby!!  those falls look refreshing. What is the shave and haircut melody?

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/13  at  12:40 PM

  • freakin Marky T beat be….man I was first! Guess I should have refreshed my browser.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/13  at  12:41 PM

  • poisonous butterflies??  How exactly do they poison you??? 
    Erik, you’re looking significantly thinner in these pics ... gonna play mom and remind you to eat enough smile

    Posted by Liz  on  02/13  at  01:56 PM

  • LIZ:  I dunno… I couldn’t translate that part in the museum… Only read that they were “peligrosa”.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/13  at  03:23 PM

  • SHEA:  Shave and a haircut… that melody…  remember Ferris Bueller’s Day Off when Rooney is on the front porch and the guy delivers flowers?  The driver honks the Shave and A Haircut melody and Rooney does the Two Bits part with his middle finger…

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/13  at  03:33 PM

  • Here’s to being born before 1981!! Beautiful pictures of the rainbows and waterfalls. I am still an avid reader of the blog, I just tend to lurk. Looks amazing Erik. I’m psyched to go on my trip even more now!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/13  at  09:27 PM

  • Oh, that shave and a haircut was also on Who Framed Roger Rabbit?. The tune that no toon could resist completing.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/13  at  09:29 PM

  • I’m born in 1981… Do I make the cut?

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/13  at  11:11 PM

  • you know how they say when you start hanging out with someone so much you think alike? yeah. you guys look like twins. nice pics.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/13  at  11:34 PM

  • omg a post from leah… grin

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/14  at  02:59 AM

  • new desktop yet again

    Posted by Alyson  on  02/14  at  04:27 AM

  • No one EVER suspects the butterfly!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/14  at  03:58 PM

  • TDoT:  1981 is the swing year…  it can go either way…  wink

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/15  at  12:40 PM

  • Erik,

    The really really super cool people are born before 1971.


    Posted by Warren  on  02/15  at  09:55 PM

  • Yeah, 1970 baby!

    And I suspect there’s some hand-holding between you two in that photo link today…. tee hee.

    Oh, and “suck my big fat one” SBM rules!  I hope you don’t ever encounter the leeches like they did.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/19  at  08:50 PM

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This blog post is one of over 500 travel dispatches from the trip blog, "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World (Or Until Money Runs Out, Whichever Comes First)," originally hosted by It chronicled a trip around the world from October 2003 to March 2005, which encompassed travel through thirty-seven countries in North America, South America, Africa, Europe, and Asia. It was this blog that "started it all," where Erik evolved and honed his style of travel blogging — it starts to come into focus around the time he arrives in Africa.

Praised and recommended by USA Today,, and readers of BootsnAll and Lonely Planet's Thorn Tree, The Global Trip blog was selected by the editors of PC Magazine for the "Top 100 Sites You Didn't Know You Couldn't Live Without" (in the travel category) in 2005.

Next entry:
Dumb and Dumber Day

Previous entry:
When Quatis Attack!


Confused at some of the jargon that's developed with this blog and its readers over the years? Here's what they mean:

BFFN: acronym for "Best Friend For Now"; a friend made on the road, who will share travel experiences for the time being, only to part ways and lose touch with

The Big Trip: the original sixteen month around-the-world trip that started it all, spanning 37 countries in 5 continents over 503 days (October 2003–March 2005)

NIZ: acronym for "No Internet Zone"; a place where there is little to no Internet access, thus preventing dispatches from being posted.

SBR: acronym for "Silent Blog Reader"; a person who has regularly followed The Global Trip blog for years without ever commenting or making his/her presence known to the rest of the reading community. (Breaking this silence by commenting is encouraged.)

Stupid o'clock: any time of the early morning that you have to wake up to catch a train, bus, plane, or tour. Usually any time before 6 a.m. is automatically “stupid o’clock.”

The Trinidad Show: a nickname of The Global Trip blog, used particularly by travelers that have been written about, who are self-aware that they have become "characters" in a long-running story — like characters in the Jim Carrey movie, The Truman Show.

WHMMR: acronym for "Western Hemisphere Monday Morning Rush"; an unofficial deadline to get new content up by a Monday morning, in time for readers in the western hemisphere (i.e. the majority North American audience) heading back to their computers.

1981ers: people born after 1981. Originally, this was to designate groups of young backpackers fresh out of school, many of which were loud, boorish and/or annoying. However, time has passed and 1981ers have matured and have been quite pleasant to travel with. The term still refers to young annoying backpackers, regardless of year — I guess you could call them "1991ers" in 2013 — young, entitled millennials on the road these days, essentially.

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