Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Puerto Iguazu...

The roar of tonnes of water is deafening as it plummets over the precipice, dashing itself without mercy on the awaiting rocks below showering tiny droplets of itself on the eager tourists above....
Iguazu Falls is truly a sight to behold...at least that's what the guidebooks say...
Sitting on a bus, 4 hours into a 16 hour trip back to Buenos Aires, racked with doubt, dozing through incoherent mental ramblings pondering the previous hours...
On an overnight bus to Puerto Iguazu - Argentinas border town at the falls, I was awaking and the guys next to us was alighting. I instinctively, still in a sleepy haze, checked my bag. There is that moment, an awful feeling when you realise that things aren't the way you left them. The bag, slightly ajar and a wad of documents and possesions gone including cash, passports, vaccination certificates, credit cards and a camera....
Now this wasn't just any old bus. It was a full 'cama' (reclining seats) first class passage, not too light on the wallet but justified for a long haul. Also the bag had been tucked under my legs while I slept. It seemed to us that the guy who got off the bus, and had been sitting next to us had done so rather hastily.
The bus was duly stopped, it became clear that he had also got off before his scheduled stop. With a likely suspect we ventured to the Monte Carlo police. They took a brief report and with the help of the bus company were furnished with the name, age, description and identity number of the potential culprit. I'm sure it provided excellen leads for them when filed promptly in the round file...
Both the company officials and the police prompted us to return to the bus (probably to expedite it's progress to Iguaza) and file a full report there.
On the bus onwards we did have offers of help and assistance from several of the shocked locals (despite the obvious crime in the country it seems that a robbery on a bus is somewhat unheard of...lucky us..) who were wonderful and really showed the good side of the Argentinian character. - Thanks especially Evelyn and Raul for the offer of dinner and accomodation.
The police in Iguaza were very friendly....one wonders why they would refuse to call the police in Monte Carlo! Apparently it is 'a very big station' and they wouldn't know how to contact the right person. I guess to be a criminal mastermind in Argentina you simply have to commit a crime and then walk, hitch, drive or ride your bike/donkey/llama to the next village where you find the sanctuary of non-communication and apathy.
We filed a report with the friendly coppers and set about the annoying task of contacting embassies, banks and insurance companies...and find out in the process whether we would be able to fly to Spain...in two days!
At this point I for one was still keen to see the falls and stay in the nice hotel that we had treated ourselves to for the night. SOOOO I called into a local locutorio (phone) to try and change flights. After dialling, the phone was found to be terrible and every time I moved the receiver it cut out. I promptly hung up and told the vendor that the phone was faulty. He still expected payment and reaching the end of my tether, I wasn't prepared to pay. The vendor - fat, hairy, bearded, red of face and obviously quick to temper was obviously becoming agitated and kept muttering something under his breath about my head in Spanish.
As his head launched towards mine I realised he had been saying 'smash my head in'!
I parried his clumsy attack and Em leaping on the offensive damn near dragged him out of the shop! Now I never ever want to get into a fight with Em. Here she was single handedly dragging this fat sack of rage out of the door of his own shop!
I tried to follow out the door but by now he was firmly in the door way and was aiming kicks and punches at me which for the moment I was avoiding. Eventually and with Em now outside (thank goodness) our bearded not-so friend grabs a wine bottle and begins swinging it at my head...yes the head he wanted to smash in. By this stage I'm evaluating my options and thinking that paying for the call could be the best option. I'd like to think I said firmly and in a manly fashion 'OK OK I'll pay', and while they were the words I used I think the tone may have been somewhat higher...and dare I say effeminate?...I'll have to check with Em ;-)
I half expected change when I thrust a note slightly to large to cover the bill into his hand, but wasn't too surprised when another swing of the bottle smashed into my backpack on the way out the door instead!
We were ready to head off to the Police station again but thought better of it. 2 tourists in a small Argentinian town, our word against his...at least we weren't harmed at all - well nearly unharmed Em had a bruised arm and I a bruised ego to go with my twisted finger :-(
I think back now and wonder if I could have handled the situation better. Of course it is better to let sleeping dogs lie and in retrospect it wasn't worth arguing over such a meacre amount of money. On the other hand we all at times get sick of handing over our hard earned dough for crappy or non-functioning stuff!!
You wonder, especially as a guy whether you did the right thing. I think that pre-bottle I could have laid him down. As some of you know I studied Karate and Judo as a youngster and more recently boxed through the years of my eary twenties before winning a world championship and setting several world records in All-Round Weightlifting...suffice to say I though/think that I can handle myself. But not once did I think about hitting the guy. I saw his blows as if in slow motion and had no real trouble avoiding them. The only thing I could think of was getting Em and I out of harms way.
I suppose the proof of the pudding is in the eating...more accurately that I can still eat pudding, with my girl, and have nothing more permanent than a memory to remember it by.
The experiance did put the nail in the coffin of wanting to stay. The rest of the trip involved getting back to BA and trying to get onwards to Spain - which was scuttled by a broken embassy printer and eventually being content to go back to NZ...which is where we are now for the time being.
So I'm back, we're back!
I will be back seeing clients for health, lifestyle and success coaching and focussing on several writing projects.