Hi, there. How’s everyone’s summer going? I don’t know about y’all, but turning the calendar over to August always means the end of summer. Which is kind of odd, because as someone who grew up in Texas, August was typically the hottest month and it never felt like summer ended until maybe October? I guess it’s a mental thing. Anyway…
My girlfriend’s birthday was recently, and we celebrated by taking a trip to Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. Have you been there before? If not, I recommend it. I don’t remember the exact quote from John Muir, but it says something along the lines of having to walk in silence as you wander between the giant trees that reside within the park. I found this to be true. Our conversations halted as we craned our necks to take in the towering, stalwart trunks of the sequoia trees. Their ability to survive and thrive for hundreds of years in this world is absolutely astounding. Sequoia and Kings are two of the most magical National Parks, and places, I’ve ever been to.
While we did get to enjoy some truly breathtaking scenery and escape from the Hellmouth that’s currently swallowing up the majority of this country, our trip was not without its hiccups. My car died the day we arrived, and for a brief moment we were certain we were going to fall prey to the plot of a horror movie. See, my car decided not to start on the single highway road of the small town we were staying in, just before sunset, in front of an abandoned business building where men drinking beer eyed us warily. Fortunately, we were also in close proximity to a brewery, and ended up being assisted by the kindest group of strangers. Once it was decided a new battery was needed, one of those lovely brewery customers (the lone woman, mind you) let us BORROW THEIR CAR and told us to bring it back the next day once we’d acquired a new battery.
I’m still not over their sheer generosity. My girlfriend and I, weeks later, are still talking about how surreal all of that was, and how kind those people were to two city girls who were clearly fish out of water in that instance. It was a much-needed reminder that not everyone is out to cause chaos and that there are still good people in this world.
So, that travel story got me reminiscing on other adventures my girlfriend and I have shared (there’s been A LOT). One I’ll share now takes place in the stunning, mist-filled landscape of the Cataratas del Iguazu. In English: Iguazu Falls.
For those who may not know, I met my girlfriend when we were both serving as Peace Corps Volunteers in Peru. Toward the end of our respective services, we wanted to take advantage of being in South America and travel around before returning to the States. One of the places we visited was Argentina. The Falls and its National Parks form part of the border between Argentina and Brazil, deep within the dense Amazonian jungle. Altogether, Iguazu Falls make up the largest waterfall system in the world.
The day we visited the National Park was a beautiful one. The sun was shining, we had our ponchos ready should we decide to stand beneath a fall, and our Spanish was on point. The first half of the day went by without a hitch. We saw some amazing things, including the most notorious waterfall in the park, The Devil’s Throat.
We stopped for lunch at a Subway, of all places, because why wouldn’t there be a Subway in the middle of the subtropical jungle in Argentina? We order our food and, since it’s such a beautiful day, opt to sit outside in the quaint little picnic table area right outside the restaurant. We take our seats, not really thinking about the fact that there are no other people anywhere in sight. Kind of odd, but we go with it. That is, until I start to open the bag containing my panini, and the unimaginable happens.
Is anyone familiar with the wildlife that inhabit Iguazu National Park? Have you heard of the coati? From a distance, they are quite adorable, resembling a cross between an ant-eater, a raccoon, and maybe a lemur? However, when TWELVE COATIS emerge from the nearby brush and ascend upon your unsuspecting picnic table, they are not so cute. They are, in fact, terrifying.
My girlfriend, being the smart one, grabs her food and bolts. I apparently think I can handle this (???) and watch as one of the coati snatches up my bag of barbeque chips like it’s just another Tuesday. The others are sniffing vigorously, searching for more. As the coati with my chips legit stares at me, I accept the challenge (????) and 100% believe that I can knock the bag of chips out of its little paws if I swing my sandwich bag just right. (Intending no harm to the creature, I promise. I just really wanted my chips.)
What happened next? Well, I’m feeling mighty clever as I delicately swing the brown bag holding my fresh panini toward the coati. The coati drops the barbeque chips (YES!) then CATCHES the bag between its now incredibly sharp looking claws, never breaking eye-contact (NO!). It was then I realized the error of my ways, and quickly released my grip on the panini.
I step back toward my girlfriend and we watch in awe and mild horror as the band of coati tear open my chips and devour them in less than five seconds. The one with my panini flees into the bushes and out of sight.
Stunned, we walk back into the Argentinian Subway. When the employees see us, they ask if they can help us.
“The coati…it stole my panini.”
They all laugh. “That happens a lot. Most people just stay inside to eat. The coatis are not afraid of humans anymore.”
“No kidding,” I mutter, re-living the last five minutes while the amused Subway employees kindly make me another panini.
Do you have any zany or wild summer travel stories? Or maybe something weird you couldn’t explain? I love traveling, especially because you never know what will happen when you do!