I was super excited to arrive in Brazil’s ‘Capital of Ecotourism’, a town aptly named Bonito, which means Beautiful in Portuguese and is located in the state of Mato Grosso do Sul.

Taking a day tour snorkeling down the crystal clear waters of Bonito’s Rio da Prata, did feel like swimming in a an aquarium, or a really clean and beautifully landscaped fishbowl. There’s a gentle current that floats you down these waters, passing schools of fish and underwater flora, as if nature herself had approved of this eco-friendly tour.

I was surprised at how eco sensitive Brazil was. With carefully practiced rules and regulations.

Sunscreen and insect repellents were forbidden to be worn before entering these pristine waters. We weren’t allowed to touch the bottom of the river, or kick, to minimise disturbance to the waters and it’s inhabitants. And God forbid if you needed to pee – the pirhana’s would come after you! Kidding about the last one but you get my point… my bladder had swelled in disgust by the end of the tour.

All local guides are required to pass conservation examinations making them credible in their knowledge and experience of the land. The quantity of tourist floating down these rivers are heavily regulated with a well organised voucher system that eliminates all discounting on price, and any unqualified or unaccredited tours.

I love Bonito, for it’s amazing natural beauty and it’s representation on how tourism and nature can grow together in a healthy and educational environment – Definitely a place to revisit! 🙂

Travelling tips, Part 4 (final) – Odin & Tiara’s comedy of misadventures.

Here are a few tips to make your bus journey through Brazil run smoother and be more enjoyable.

Know the correct time – If your bus is a no-show, DON’T PANIC! Raised voices, pacing, throwing hands around in frustration while wondering out loud ‘where the f#ck is this bus?!’ does not help. Calmly and politely confirm the time with a fellow local commuter and you may find that there’s been a time change between cities (or daylight savings has kicked in). In this instance we found that Dourados was an hour behind Foz do Iguacu and our bus was not due for another 45 minutes.

Do not settle into a false sense of security – Don’t expect a smooth journey and for everything to go as planned – Something WILL go wrong!

Finally back on the road, Odin and I were deliriously happy, giving each other high fives and big smiles. Then !!BANG!! The bus swipes a parked truck as it turns the corner out of the bus terminal, knocking it’s right side rear-view mirror off, leaving it dangling and banging against the side of the bus.

Odin and I sit in shocked silence as the bus pulls to a stop.. We had only been on the road for 20 seconds.

T, hopeful – ‘He doesn’t need that rear-view mirror to continue, does he?’

Keep the conversation clean on public transport – Especially on a night bus.

It had been 36 hours since we had lost our luggage. 36 hours of buses and waiting for buses. In this time Odin and I had done a lot of talking, broaching every subject, including sex. And if you know Odin (22yr old Australian Male) when he talks, he gets his whole body involved, hand actions, hip actions, so even if you don’t understand what he’s saying due to language barriers, it’s still pretty easy to understand what he was talking about.

Listening to Odin, I noticed an older Brazilian man sitting across the aisle from us in the dark (night bus), staring, and slowly rubbing his upper thigh while watching Odin orally and visually express how he likes to play behind closed doors.

T, interrupting Odin in the middle of his story, whispers – ‘Odin! What’s that guy doing behind you?’

Odin, his hands still in a slapping motion as he pauses from his tale, turns to look at the man who is rubbing himself, then slowly turns back to face me and whispers – ‘I don’t know…’

We sit in an awkward, exposed silence until eventually the man lets out a quiet moan.

T, feeling violated – ‘Well, I guess he’s finished.’

Everything’s going to be ok… until it isn’t. Part 3 – Odin & Tiara’s comedy of misadventure.

This had become our mantra.

Odin, looking delirious and dishevelled at 6am in the morning, repeats – ‘Everything’s going to be ok’ as his stomach churns and makes awfully loud moaning noises, obviously complaining about the service station hot dog he had consumed earlier.

T, wincing at own stomach cramps from bad service station chicken – ‘Yeah, everything’s ALWAYS going to be ok… Until it isn’t.’

Our bus had returned from re-fuelling and we continued forward on our journey towards Bonito chasing after all our luggage… And then the bus broke down, in the dark of night, in the middle of nowhere, and had been broken FOR 4 HOURS, when it was only a couple of hours away from Dourados where we were meant to catch the only twice a day connecting bus to Bonito.

We finally make it to the Dourados bus terminal at 9am that morning, having missed our 6am connecting bus by a long shot, and were fortunate enough to find a lady at the ticket office who spoke some English.

The nice lady informs us that the next bus to Bonito leaves at 4pm that afternoon.

T – ‘Odin, ask her if the bus will drop us off at either one of these destinations in Bonito that’s written on the post-it note?‘ referring to what we had assumed were the names of suburbs in the town of Bonito.

Odin to the lady – ‘Will the bus take us to here in Bonito?’ hands over the post-it note.

The lady reads the 2 names on the note and is confused –‘I’m sorry my English is not so good, and I do not understand … These are the names of bus companies.’

Odin & T – ‘aaah…’. Then giggling. ‘No wonder everyone looked angry and confused whenever we asked if this was where the bus was going!’

Luckily, even though we had been jumping on Brazilian buses demanding to be taken to a ‘bus company’, miraculously we were still on the right path to Bonito.

Lesson – Even when all the odds are against you, (it’s a foreign country, you don’t speak the language, you smell like a hobo and have lost all of your luggage, nobody understands you and you have to deal with your own naivety and arrogance) life will correct itself, and everything will always be ok.

Until it isn’t.

Part 2, Let the chase begin! – Odin & Tiara’s comedy of misadventures

The next public bus heading for Bonito was that afternoon, at 4pm, giving us a few hours to ride out the hangover by eating and passing out on the hostel lounges for a few hours.

T, awakes with a paranoid jolt, calls out – ‘ODIN!’ looks around in a panic, worried that Odin had already left.

A few minutes later there’s a distant and desperate ‘TIARA!’ cried out as Odin is also jolted out of his nap with the fear of being left behind scarred into him.

We make it to the bus station and jump onto our bus to Bonito, a town about 10 hours drive away that was the next stop for the Tucan tour bus which had all of our luggage.

The guy at the information desk had written down 2 names on a post-it note for us and instructed – ‘You must go either here, or here, for Bonito.’

Speaking fuck-all Portuguese, we held onto this post-it note like it was the new Hope, and continuously asked the bus driver and transport officials to reassure that the bus was indeed going to either of these destinations. Unfortunately, no-one understand us unless we pointed to the bus and said ‘Bonito?’.

A couple of hours on the road and our bus pulls into a bus terminal.

The bus driver announces something in Portuguese that we didn’t understand and everyone starts getting off the bus. Still drowsy and half asleep, Odin and I follow the crowd thinking ‘It must be a pit stop’ and figured as long as we stuck with the other passengers on our bus we would be fine.

We check out the food stalls at the terminal. Odin orders a hot dog in pastry, and I order a deep-fried crumbed potato and chicken cone.

We stand out the front of the terminal eating and keeping a watchful eye on the bus.

T, with sudden realisation – ‘Great! I just ate chicken from a gas station in Brazil before taking a massive bus ride. That’s just asking for trouble.’

Odin, looks up in a panic and proclaims – ‘ I just ate a DOG!’

At that moment our bus starts pulling away and slowly drives out of the bus terminal. In a panic, Odin and I start running after the bus, waving our arms and yelling for it to stop.

The bus driver, seeing the spectacle before him, calmly signals for us to wait and that he will be back in 20 minutes. We look around and realise that the other passengers were completely calm, even laughing at us.

T – ‘It’s probably just going to re-fuel or something… But I should have taken my daypack with all my electronics off the bus. I have about 2 grand worth of electronics in that bag!’

Odin, always slightly worse off, states – ‘I left my PASSPORT on that bus.’

We sit back down on the curb, and hoped to God that the bus would return with all my electronics, and Odin’s passport, so we could continue chasing after the other bus that had all of our luggage.

T – ‘We don’t do things easy do we?’

Odin & Tiara’s comedy of misadventures – Part 1

I wake up slightly drunk from the night before and walk into the Hostel Natura reception area at Foz do Iguacu. I see Odin sitting at the one and only computer, his face furrowed in deep concentration, and there was something else strange about this scene that I couldn’t quite put my finger on…

Odin, without turning from the computer monitor – ‘ We’ve missed the bus. Everyone’s gone. They’ve left us.’

Head implodes… FUCK!

And I had left my passport in the safe-keeping of some girlfriends with the assumption that we were all going to be on the same bus!

Odin – ‘I have your passport’

Breathes sigh of optimism

Thanks to a capriniah too many (lethal Brazilian cocktail), I’d missed the Tucan tour bus that had left 3 hours earlier that morning with ALL OF MY LUGGAGE!

Thankfully, I still had my handbag and daypack (money & notebook), Passport, and the clothes I had on my back.

And Odin. At least I had Odin with me, the other drunk idiot that had missed the bus. (by ten minutes)

T, feeling stupid and irresponsible with a hangover that’s pounding in ears and left eye, shakes head in disbelief – ‘Of all the fuckwits to be left behind, it had to be us.’

Just another day in Paraguay, Argentina, or Brazil?

The borders of Paraguay is as little as a 15 minute drive away from Foz do Iguacu in Brazil. This meant a 4 hour shopping expedition to this tax-free haven (to purchase cheap Dior makeup, a new ipod nano, and some hot Brazilian made heels) was as convenient as a quick bus ride in an out of Paraguay!!

15 minutes in another direction is Argentina, providing Foz do Iguacu with quite unique recreational options.

On a spontaneous night out, Odin, (Australian), Orla (a lovely Irish lass) and myself find ourselves drunk at 2.30am, in the car of our very own Cheech & Chong-like, friendly, local Brazilian bartender, Rodrigo, as he drives us towards the border of Argentina.

Rodrigo, smoking weed and speaking English in a heavy Brazilian accent – ‘You guys have your passports? The best clubs are in Argentina ‘

T, surprised at the option of crossing countries for a night out – ‘No, we don’t have our passports..’

Rodrigo, swings the car around – ‘Ok then, well I know of this great party that’s in Paraguay tonight and you won’t need your passports‘

Odin, smashed – ‘Sounds great man, let’s do it!’ continues to discuss the beauty of Brazilian ladies descriptively to Rodrigo.

Rodrigo, as we’re just about to reach the border to Paraguay – ‘Only thing is, the police in Paraguay are corrupt and because you are foreigner’s . . . ‘ trails off.

T, warning bells – ‘Hmm, I don’t really want to spend money on paying off cops, why don’t we just go out in Brazil?’

Orla, sobering up, gives me a serious ‘how the feck did we get here’ look – ‘Yeah, let’s not mess with corrupt police in another country without our passports hey’.

Rodrigo, swings car around again – ‘Ok, then lets just go out in Brazil. Tonight is country music night. BRAZILIAN country music!’

This was the beginning of what can only be described as a comedy of errors, misfortune and misadventures featuring Odin and myself.

A day at the Acquamania Water Park – Foz do Iguacu

Having spent one day too many at Foz do Iguacu in the searing heat, when it came to a decision between the Bird Park and the Acquamania Water Park, I chose… water park!

And what do you see at a Brazilian water park? A whole lot of boobies! Perfectly rounded silicone oranges so perky that they could have doubled as a chin rest. And on all age groups including teens and grandma’s. Not that I was paying close attention..

The water park made for an ultra fun day where we were able to forget the tragedies of camping in leaking tents and drinking out of boredom, and instead enjoy the cheap thrill of screaming down a water slide on a sun-kissed arse.

A super fun day! 🙂

Iguazu falls – Argentinian and Brazilian sides.

Saying farewell to Buenos Aires, it was time to rejoin the Tucan tour group moving onto the Iguazu falls.

Iguazu (meaning Big Water) Falls consists of 275 waterfalls along the Iguazu river that connects Argentina and Brazil.

On the Argentinian side you are able to walk over the falls along walkways that provide up-close views of these thunderous curtains of water, and as I watched this flowing mixture of river browns and misty whites I knew I had the answer – This is where dulce de leche (caramel) comes from!

Ok, maybe not. But the colour and texture of the falls did look incredibly similar to perhaps what a caramel version of the waterfall in Charlie and the chocolate factory would be. And Argentina is the home of Dulce de leche..

The Brazilian side of the falls provide spectacular panoramic views that offer the full scope of how mammoth and powerfully raw these falls are. Up to 82 metres in height and 3kms in length of magnificent and majestic pounding water, with the novelty of beautiful rainbows and heavily sprayed mist that will have you drenched and exhilarated.

As with Jiuzhaigou national park and the panda’s in China, I felt a moment of privilege and gratitude to have been able to stand there with this awesome wonder of nature.

It made me so happy that if I had found a puddle of mud I would have rolled in it.

Personal highlights of Buenos Aires

Serrano st

Samba school
I was very proud to have learnt to samba! Well enough to at least join in with the slow, old and retired samba dancing crowd of Brasil.

If only the ashram in India could see just how unsuccessful they were in flushing out the meat and dairy eater in me..tsk tsk. The rumours around the world are true – the steak in Buenos Aires is simply irresistible to any carnivore.

Only in Buenos Aires will you see a young couple in love slowly and ever so tenderly start dancing the tango while waiting for the bus at the bus stop. It was so sweet and adorible that it actually induced feelings of nausea in me … show ponies..

The Nightlife
Between the food and the nightlife, I would have surely died a blissfully high and heavily cholesteroled death in Buenos Aires. Much respect to the talented DJs at Club Bahrain, especially for it’s Drum & Bass Tuesdays, and its dual electro and reggaeton saturday nights which satisfied both the needs of K and myself. (I can’t stand reggaeton, K can’t stand electro)

And most importantly, the People (Che!)
I’ve never met a friendlier bunch of people who were willing to share their thoughts, opinions, customs, country and their homes. Whether it was standing in line at a bar, waiting at the bus stop, finding like-minded music lovers at a club, or attending a pool competition and being welcomed into the pool circuit crowd. These people are coool!

Vic, my dear Argentine friend who took K and I on his infamous ‘undercover pub crawl’ once said ‘The air in Buenos Aires is so thick and humid you have to swim through it’, true in so many ways. There is a graceful movement to Buenos Aires, a current of heat and pleasurable indulgence that’s hard to resist and much easier and more enjoyable to just ‘float along’ with.

‘Buenos Aires is the gem of South America’ a statement made from several foreign and local acquaintances.

‘The gem’, .. perhaps. ‘A gem’, definitely! 🙂

The joys of living with K in Buenos Aires

During our stay in Buenos Aires, K and I went through the amazing Super Panchos, hot dogs at 4am in the mornings phase, followed by the ultra fatty ‘I’d give up an Argentinian bbq for this!’ deliciously cheesy pizza phase, before finally mastering the nachos phase becoming excellent Best Nachos in town critics. In addition to K, I was eating an average of 500 grams of yummy Bife de Chorizo a day. Life was good.

One lazy afternoon while enjoying watching cable TV in our apartment on Serrano St, K excuses himself to go to the bathroom and did not return for a whole Big Bang Theory episode. (45 minutes)

K eventually emerges from the bathroom.

T – ‘What happened to you?’

K, exhausted and sweaty – ‘The toilet wouldn’t flush! And I can’t fix it, so I’ve been using the garbage bin in the bathroom to throw water down the toilet for the last half hour… the shit just wouldn’t go away! It was hard work man, I felt like I was back in the village or something.’

T – *rolls on floor laughing*

Considering how much K hates the use of ‘effort’ in any way, it came as no surprise when for the next couple of days until the toilet was fixed, whenever a bathroom run was needed, K would rather take a walk to the cafe across the road, or plan a day near the Buenos Aires Hard Rock Cafe where ‘the toilets were so amazing I didn’t want to leave!’

A Big Bang Theory quote that reminds me dearly of K – “If outside is so great, why has Man spent CENTURIES perfecting INSIDE?”


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