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29 hours is exactly how long it took me to break on our two-day bus trip from Rio de Janeiro to Buenos Aires via Iguazu.

But don’t get me wrong. I came into the bus trip, planning for 41 hours actually on the bus, not expecting to break. I came into it chock-full of that we-can-do-it-no-matter-how-crazy-it-seems attitude. It’s same one that made us walk to all the way to the top of Corcovado in Rio, that made us use public transportation no matter how complicated or foreign to save money on cabs, that made us take this leap and go on this trip in the first place. But 29 hours into it, I lost it. Here’s the back story:

Our trip from Rio to Buenos Aires was to be done in two legs:

  1. Leave Rio at 1:30pm on Sunday, arrive in Foz do Iguaçu (the bus station on the Brazilian side of the falls) at 12:30pm Monday via the bus line Pluma.
  2. Leave Puerto Iguazú (the bus station on the Argentinian side of the falls) at 7:00pm Monday, arrive in Buenos Aires at 12:45pm Tuesday via the bus line Crucero del Norte.

Yeah, it was a hike, but we would be able to save money on an expensive flight from Rio to B.A., forgo two nights lodging, and get to see Iguazu Falls, which so many people had recommended.

This is what really happened:

Our already super long 23-hour ride from Rio was two and a half hours late. When we arrived in Foz do Iguaçu, it was already after 3pm. We then needed to take three separate local buses to get from the Brazilian side across the border to the Argentinian side.

By the time we reached our final stop it was 4:40pm (mind you – we were carrying those big bags we featured in a previous post.) It was too late to see the falls. To visit the falls would require another bus (I know!) and another 45 minute ride both to and from the park. And the park closed at 6pm. It was too close for us weakened road warriors to risk. So we missed it. We went all that way and didn’t get to see the falls.

We did get to meet this super cool Israeli chick named Tom who crossed the Brazilian/Argentina border with us. She showed us her pictures of the falls. She said she couldn’t get over how much water there was because they don’t have a lot of water in Israel. Also she said, there were a lot of butterflies, a lot of butterflies and a lot of water. “It was like heaven.” So now Tom’s heaven goes on my bucket list.

Nellu and I had just enough time to get some much-needed food and make our second long haul bus from Puerto Iguazú to Buenos Aires, which we did. It was a nicer bus than the last. But it didn’t take long for me to crack.

A little over three hours into that ride, the bus stewards were chucking it up in the front cab (loudly), the man next to me didn’t seem to know how put his phone on vibrate (in fact no one did), a baby was crying, and a 7-year boy who had just boarded and sat right in front of us had a lot of questions about everything. It was one of those moments where normally I would think to myself, “Ah, that kid is so cute and curious. He’s like our nephews.” But what I thought under the stress of the moment was: “I’m going to f-ing kill you.”

Don’t worry. It all ended with out incident. Yes, we had to watch the same movie twice, but we got two meals and got to Buenos Aires on time!

~ Molly


We’ve watched very little TV since embarking on our trip – a little CNN World in Sao Paulo, a few Daily Shows online. But we became slightly enthralled by a telanovela we saw twice at the restaurant around the corner from our guesthouse in Rio. It’s called Cordel Ecantdo.

Even if it wasn’t shown in Portuguese, the restaurant keeps the volume all the way down. But of course, that leaves room for us to make up our own dialogue. Nellu is actually pretty good at anticipating what happens. Like when the priest was trying to get Acucena/Aurora (not sure why she has two names) to go to the convent. He guessed it.

When I logged on to their website to get a little more information for this post, I read a few of the online summaries. They were translated automatically by my browser. But I was left even more confused. Apparently Google Translate does not do drama.

I’ve dared Nellu to grow a beard like one of the main characters.

(You can see Jesuino in action:

It only took him a few days to let it grow in and by the time we arrived in Buenos Aires, he had it!

Nellu Mazilu

Nellu becomes Jesuino

Pretty good right.

~ Molly

To be honest, I really didn’t think Ipanema would be anything special. Yeah, it’s often included on lists of  the world’s most famous beaches but in my mind it’s a city beach so how good could it be.

I was wrong. It’s fantastic. Aqua colored water meets a wide white sand beach, flanked by mountains and clouds and a subtle city scape. Oh and it has waves that the twelve-year-old me, body surfing and boogie boarding off the coast of North Carolina, would have died for.

Here’s just a little piece of beach zen that I shot on my flip cam:

But keep in mind that I shot that video on a Wednesday, a day where most Rio natives (or cariocas as they call them here) did not go to the beach. Everyone who lives here goes to the beach on Sunday.

Here is the scene last Sunday:

Photo: Nellu Mazilu

Now technically South America is going into its fall season. But almost on call, the day we arrived in Rio, we were greeted with a mini summer. The weather has been consistently hot and sunny for the last week and a half. So you can understand the packed beach.

Also fun: since this weekend is Easter, many people here have had both Thursday and Friday off this week.  We went down to Ipanema again today as our last beach day in Rio (Nellu suggested we go to Copacabana because it was less crowded last Sunday, but I just couldn’t cheat on Ipanema like that.)  Packed again. I can’t remember the last time I saw so many people really enjoying the beach: sand castle building, playing soccer (and something that looks like soccer and volleyball combined), swimming, riding waves… It was great.

And even though everyone sits just a little too close for my NYC comfort zone, I’d go back in a heartbeat.


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