pneumococcal research conference every two years, and the most recent one was held in Iguazu Falls, a huge waterfall park/nature preserve on the borders of Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay. Not a bad spot! All of the conference attendees from Australia were on the same flight from Sydney to Buenos Aires (aka the Pneumococcal Party Plane), and after a night in Buenos Aires, we flew to Iguazu Falls, and due to a slight planning mishap, landed on the Argentinian side and had to cross the border into Brazil in a taxi to get to the conference, when went a lot more smoothly than one would suspect. The conference itself was very good but the schedule was jam packed, and between talks and meetings and dinners, I didn't see get to see the falls until after it ended. We did visit both the Brazillian and Argentinian side, and they were both very beautiful- in Brazil you're at the base of the falls looking up at them, and in Argentina you're at the top, looking down.
After that, back to Buenos Aires for a night, I flew to Rio de Janerio to meet Ern for a week's vacation. Guess what? It was awesome! First off, way less dodgy that anticipated- I figured we'd get constantly harassed as foreign tourists, but to our pleasant surprise, everyone pretty much left us alone. Granted, we didn't go try to buy drugs in a favela or anything (hey, I've seen City of God, too) but everyone makes such a big deal about how dangerous Rio is, and it didn't seem like that bad at all to me. Rio is an absolutely amazing city, mountains that give way to beautiful beaches with an enormous city somehow perched within the landscape. We spent the first couple of days in Rio, doing the typical touristy things- checking out the views from Christ the Redeemer and Sugarloaf, walking the beach at Copacabana, drinking a thousand caipirinhas, and people watching- let's just say that Ern and I had double the amount of fabric on our persons as the average Brazilian.
After that, we took a bus about three hours down to coast to Paraty, a small colonial town with a relaxed vibe, which as we soon found out is a popular destination for Brazilian honeymooners. We took a boat ride and swam at some nearby islands, took a cooking class, and walked around Old Town. It was great, and even though I loved Rio it was nice to see another part of Brazil. After that, back to Rio for one last night of caipirinhas and samba music, and the sadly, vacation was over. I had a fantastic time and would love to go back and see more of Brazil. It's hard to sum it all up in one blog post, so I'll just throw in a few photos.