A book extra for Lazaro’s Revenge , The Spaniard’s Passion

The falls in Northern Argentina are so spectacular I can’t describe them in a paragraph… they require an entire book!

left: The rainforest ant sunset. right: Our hotel, Hotel das Cataratas, on the Brazil side of the falls. Hotel is built on edge of cliff overlooking falls in the old Colonial style. Incredible!
from top: One of the rivers that end in the dramatic falls; A view of the falls from the lower walk, on the Argentina side; A glimpse of the falls on the Brazilian side before we ‘raft sailed’ beneath the spray; Our view of the falls and rainforest from an Argentina lookout.

I knew when I started my Galván Brides series, I wanted one of the stories to take place at the falls, but it wasn’t until I actually visited Iguazu that I realized nothing I could put into words would do the area justice.

It’s not just the humid, densely green subtropical landscape that makes Iguazu so sensational–its the culture, the history, the tension between place and civilization.

Iguazu reminded me of my year in South Africa and how some places can not be tamed, and some places do not fit neatly into our consciousness, and yet the Falls and the old mission ruins now overtaken by jungle growth hooked my imagination and even now I wish I’d been able to spend weeks there instead of four days.

I’d love to return, and hike the falls again, and listen to the birds and watch the myriad of brilliant blue and green butterflies lift and descend. When we were there it wasn’t even summer yet but heat at times dazzled–the wet heavy heat overwhelming–but then the rain would come and night would fall and the humidity would finally break, and suddenly it’d be misty. Heavenly.

Buenos Aires

I write because I love adventure and writing for Harlequin Presents lets me travel all over the world. But I want to be accurate so when I start a new book or series for Harlequin Presents, I head out on a…ahem, research trip. I could Google it, but why sit at the computer if I can jump on a plane?

left: Free tango and comedy show in La Boca, one of the old immigrant barrios. right: The colorful historic buildings in La Boca.
Tango dancers showcase their talent at San Telmo square.

I flew to Argentina for 11 days to research my Galván Brides series for Harlequin. The great thing about flying to Buenos Aires from the US is that it’s only an hour ahead of East Coast time so you don’t arrive jet-lagged. After checking into the Alveár Palace, one of Argentina’s top 5 star hotels, we hit the town. Buenos Aires is a very sexy, cosmopolitan city that that’s part New York and part Paris, and a city that doesn’t come to life until after ten pm! I did everything possible from taking in tango shows to exploring old Italian and Spanish barrios like La Boca and San Telmo but we never did get used to eating enormous steak dinners at midnight and rolling into bed two hours later with impossibly full stomachs.

Argentina is full of warm, sultry, sensual beauty. In San Telmo I learned that the tango isn’t a prescribed set of steps. Rather, each tango is performed impromptu. The reason the man holds the woman so tightly is to enhance communication as the woman is responsible for following his lead, and his changing will. I loved watching dancers perform the tango as its quite emotional at times and it fits Argentina’s personality. In Argentina it’s an insult not to flirt!

Buenos Aires’ famous cemetery where all Argentina’s important people are buried, including Eva Perron.

After four days in Buenos Aires I spent the next two days exploring the pampas and visiting estancias. One of my favorite days was spent at San Antonio de Areco, home of the revered gaucho. My third book, The Latin Lover’s Secret Child, is about Anabella Galván and Lucio, her gaucho lover, and touring old estancias, and having afternoon tea at another, gave me a wonderful glimpse of life on the pampas.

Six days after arriving in Argentina we hoped on a plane for Iguzau, up in the north. Iguzau is like no other place on earth. The amazing waterfalls and rainforest is bordered by three countries — Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay – – and Iguazu National Park was the setting for the movie, “The Mission” (starring Robert DeNiro and Jeremy Irons) about the Jesuits from Spain and Portugal who built missions in the rainforest, attempting to convert the native Indians. You can still visit the haunting mission ruins today, where they rise in red stonearches from the jungle vines, and my fourth Galván book, featuring Alonso Huntsman, takes place at the falls.

I was desperate to get as close as possible to the roaring falls and we ended up bumping along the falls using the twisting catwalks, taking a speedboat up the river beneath the base of the first set of falls, and then a helicopter over the horseshoe shaped falls to get every perspective possible. Our tour guide assured us the boat trip up the river to the falls was accessible, but it wasn’t until after we’d paid our money and taken a jolting jeep ride to the rainforest cliffs that we discovered that the boat jetty was down over 200 narrow stone steps! Happily, the boat trip was nothing short of fantastic, and the adrenaline of that wild ride carried over into our evenings where we dined outside along with the other guests at the old mission style hotel in the middle of the rainforest serenaded by live Brazilian music, curious lizards and the squawk of tropical birds.

Talk about a successful “research” trip! I can’t wait to return to Argentina!