OC HIGH: STUDENT NEWS AND VIEWS : exchanges : Natural Wonders Fill the Senses

Ross Weinberg, a junior from Laguna Hills High School, is spending the school year as an American Field Service student in Santiago del Estero, Argentina, where he is living with a family of eight. Here he describes a recent vacation exploring his new country and Brazil and Paraguay.


An abundance of rain this year has made the Iguazu Falls in Argentina spectacular.

They are the most beautiful sight I have seen in my life, which helps explain why the falls are one of Argentina's biggest attractions, with people coming from around the world to see them.

The falls are in Argentina, but you view them from Brazil. The tropical climate makes them even more spectacular: giant ferns, bamboo trees, thick jungle, vines. It looks like something out of a "Tarzan" movie. I couldn't believe how much water there was--year after year, day after day, minute after minute. Where does all this water come from?

The falls are so numerous and so big I could hear the roar 15 miles away. Words cannot describe the sight.

A 30-minute trip from the falls puts you in Paraguay, a hot spot for stolen materials. Vendors try to push you into buying their products. Watches on the street range from $2 to $20; a Rolex goes for about $12. A box of Marlboros, 20 cents; a Thighmaster, $3.

Sometimes vendors can be tricky. When I took my hands out of my pockets while looking at some watches, the vendor shoved a watch into my hand and told me I had to pay for it. He brushed away my hand when I tried to put it back. Finally, I threw the watch back at him and quickly walked away.

You also have to be careful of what you buy--a lot of what is on the street is defective.

This type of vacation was a real vacation for me. However, mountains, jungles, waterfalls and forests don't seem to interest the people of Argentina, who seem to favor a beach resort full of tourists.

Those who can afford it go to Disney World in Florida. People have different ideas of vacations. I'll take waterfalls.

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