Travel Planning: Paring Down

I’ve been given official permission to begin planning a trip to Argentina for February. As loyal readers know, there are few things I love more than planning a trip. (Less than an hour after we decided, yeah, let’s do this, I had a Google doc started. This is a charming quirk and not obnoxious control-freakishness.) This one is a little more challenging than I’m used to, because we want to cover a lot of ground (Argentina? Kind of a big place with the most interesting bits at each corner) but we won’t have the time and money for everything. So how do you decide what to pare down and what to keep?

We’ll fly in and out of Buenos Aires because those are the easiest and cheapest flights. Because I’ve been dying to hike Iguazu Falls since I first learned that it existed, that’s a must-see. But there’s the possibility that one more stop is doable. The question is, what else to include?

Patagonia is a trip in and of itself; it would never squeeze in time-wise, and it’s at the far end of the country. Mendoza and the Andes would be awe-inspiring, I’m sure, but again, it would take us in the wrong direction and would probably be worth more time than the day or two of wiggle room we’ve got. Cordoba seems beautiful and fun and certainly doable in a couple days, but probably not so special that we’d want to go out of our way to get there.

So I just started scanning maps to see what else was in between Buenos Aires and Iguazu Falls. And it turns out, there are two good options.

Near the town of Posadas near Iguazu Falls, there are several ruined Jesuit missions from the 17th and 18th centuries. It’s on the way, it’s doable in a day, and it’s an interesting peek into the history of the area and the interactions between the locals and the colonizers. Plus, it seems especially fitting for this particular trip, as one of Mike’s and my first dates was to a bunch of ruins. (Look, it was romantic, OK?)

There’s also Reserva Provincial Esteros del Ibera, a wetlands preserve perfect for a long boat trip to check out a huge population of diverse animals, birds, and plants. The key to stopping here is not getting eaten by caimans, because what wrecks a trip faster than being eaten by a caiman?

Other than this open question (the question, “Do we or don’t we make another stop, and if so, where?”, not the question, “What wrecks a trip faster than being eaten by a caiman?”, the answer to which is: Being eaten by two caimans simultaneously.) the tentative plan is set. Patagonia, Mendoza, and all the rest will have to wait until next time.

Which is a scary thought. Because the likelihood is that “next time” isn’t really going to happen. There are too many other things in the world–other places, in fact whole other continents, and other nontravel adventures that happen in life–for me to feel sure any more that, oh yeah, I’ll just do that bike ride through the vineyards next time I’m down in South America. Choices have to be made. My answer of “both” to the question I posed last week doesn’t fly in a reality where I’ve got a demanding job and other things I want to spend money on and a partner with the same. We can’t do everything. But what we can do, we’re going to make count.