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WheresCherie.COM Quote
"The world is like a mirror: frown and it frowns at you; smile, and it smiles too." -- Herbert Samuel

Episode 10: Don´t Cry For Me Argentina
@ Where`s Cherie?     Aug 05 2002 - 16:11 PST
cherie writes: March 1999

Quote of the week:Work like you don´t need the money.Love like you´ve never been hurt.And dance like nobody´s watching.

Kristi thought we should add:Eat like there´s no tomorrow.

I have found the 8th wonder of the world: Iguassu Falls. (What are the other 7?) The daunting falls are three times as massive as our Niagara Falls. The immensely calm water migrates towards what appears to be the end of the world. A paine of glass, unrippled, which at once is broken into a mad haze of mist, and drops to its foreshadowed angry, but graceful, death. A gentle ebb, turned furious with rage, is sacrificed on the rocks below. I now rate the beauty of travel destinations, not with stars, but with rolls of film.Iguassu Falls = 4 rolls.

With the absence of lawsuits, these countries allow you to do the unthinkably dangerous. You find yourself climbing things like the rickety iron-spiral staircase of an abandoned lighthouse, or trying to find safe footing on the wobbly wooden planks above the falls gushing 2200 million liters of water.

As I walked over the falls, I stood mesmerized, unable to move; as if strong arms were holding my ankles. Although I didn´t resent their firm grip, I recalled that these must be the same stable hands I had wished for, the second before I had plunged from the mountain in Rio as a hang-glider. In the stillness of the moment I became a child, pressed up against the window of a toy store--except there was no glass between me and the gifts nature had presented. I must have appeared to be a fat happy pumpkin, with a glowing candle inside, no one able to erase my permanent carved smile.

Walking further, butterflies danced about me, like bugs swarming the light of a camping lantern. One after another they landed on my arms and legs. In my hair, they looked like barrettes, brightly striped and speckled wings, like dyed Easter Eggs. So many butterflies, that after we had taken the requisite photos, I had to shake them off.

Then there were the birds. A cartoonist couldn´t have drawn funnier ones. Strange colors, all of them wearing silly feather hats, ambling around with an awkward strut, unaware of their undersized or oversized beaks. Toucans, more colorful than the one on my box of Fruit Loops as a kid, came right up to you and gawked; as if you were the item of interest, not them. I am sure Kristi had fun saying ¨closer...closer...closer¨ so that she could capture the Toucan attack on film as I inched toward it.

It has suddenly become clear to me why South America is so enchanting. You feel like a gift here, a present everyone admires, but no one dares unwrap. It gives the average person a glimpse into what life is like for the beautiful. A life where, when there is an empty room full of seats, a stranger abandons personal space protocol, and sits next to you. A life where smiles are more than smiles, and handshakes are just a moment longer than they should be. You are always keenly aware that you are being watched--not in a bad way, but a curious one. Here you are catered to; you never need to think or create conversation, you just need to ¨be¨. It´s addicting what South Americans serve you over and over: generous helpings of attention.And unknowingly I had been returning their affection. Thinking I was saying ¨Te llamo¨ or ¨I´ll call you¨ the Brazilian version of ¨we´ll do lunch,¨ I was actually saying ¨Te amo,¨ which means ¨I love you.¨ That´s not the best thing to say to a Brazilian desiring a visa to America.

In case you´ve ever wondered where foodstuffs go when they expire--the answer is Brazil. Like a pregnant woman with a craving, a homesick American will pay outrageous prices for that familiar ¨Pringle´s crunch,¨ ignoring the fact that the can expired 17 months earlier. Worse, I am guilty of buying those over-processed-reminders-of-home KNOWING they´ve expired. And never did I think I´d need the English language so much that I´d pay $8 for a 25 cent week old edition of The New York Times. Then we heard about another slice of home. When the news came, we shot furtive glances at each other, which evolved into a wanton glazed-over look, and then we became possessed (one step shy of the Exorcist head 360.) Possessed by some natural instinct that caused us to walk 10 blocks for it: Pizza Hut. And it was just like home, except the people wore ridiculous outfits and they didn´t put sauce on the pizza. The people here (who are employed) are required to wear uniforms worse than the Disneyland Autotopia. Worse than Hot-Dog-On-A-Stick. Neon pink shirts with purple polyester pants and tie. No wonder no one likes to work.

We have abandoned the comfort of airplanes, committing ourselves to utilizing the bus systems through Argentina and Chile. This economically sensible move was mandated by our pocket-books. Today we are on a bus for 18 hours...any wagers on how long this ¨bus¨ idea will last?

I´ll close this chapter with a top ten list.


10. Do you have a communicable disease?9. Are you seeking to engage in immoral or criminal activities?8. Are you now involved in espionage?7. Have you ever been deported?6. Are you a terrorist?5. Are you a controlled substance trafficer?4. Were you involved in the persecutions associated with Nazi Germany?3. Are you a drug abuser or addict?2. Have you ever been arrested for an offense involving moral turpitude?1. Do you have a mental disorder?

Of course, I had to answer ¨yes¨ to the last one.Love, Cherie

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