Subject: Dec. 28-Dec. 30, 1999 - Iguazu FallsDoug McLean World Tour 1999-2000Back Home Next
Current Date/Location: Monday, Jan 17, 2000...in Sao Paulo, Brazil for the day...connecting...going to Curitiba tonight on overnight bus.
Current Itinerary: Curitiba tomorrow...then Paranagua...Ihla do Miel...then Porto Alegre...
Dec 28, 1999 (Tues)
Woke at the Hostal Paudimar in Foz do Iguazu, Brazil ...brrrrrr...cold...the AC works...turned it off 3am...back to sleep! Woke again...just in time for breakfast. It was good (more fruits and bread)...hung out for a while at the hostel...then Andrea and I took the bus to Brazillian side of Iguazu falls. Met up on the bus with 2 other girls from our hostel, Gerlinde/Belgium and Dara/Ireland. They were in Brazil teaching street children...they were loving their time in Brazil and were taking some time off to travel.
We departed the bus and finally saw the falls that we had been hearing sooooo much about...it was absolutely incredible!!! Iguazu falls is about 10 times as big as Niagra falls (not exact measurements...I'm just thumbnailing it...deal) and the scenery is much more spectacular with the jungle foliage! The system of falls is almost across your entire panorama it is so large...and this side (the Brazillian side) is supposed to be the less-spectacular of the two sides (Argentina having the other "better" side).
We walked down the walks...absolutely camera crazy...snapping photo after photo...a new wonderful view at every turn. Hard to stop...really. There were also some racoon like animals walking around begging for
food...hmmmm...don't exactly know their names...just imagine racoons with their noses extended like Pinnochio (no kidding).
Anyway...hard to describe one of the most incredible natural wonders of the world...absolutely surpassed my expectations...I thoroughly enjoyed the falls...and tomorrow we would go to the "exciting" side of the falls in Argentina...I can just imagine. Andrea, Gerlinde, and Dara all enjoyed the falls as well...
We left Iguazu Falls and went to a local tourist attraction just outside the National Park...the Parque do Aves (bird park)...it was nicely setup with lots of cool birds from all over the world, especially South America (go figure...)...Andrea got to pet a Toucan (that made her day).
Back at the hostel...Andrea and I made a BIG decision...where we were going to be for New Years. I had left it somewhat open...wanted to talk to Andrea after her arrival...we had both thought about Rio de Janiero...but as we discussed, we should probably go to Florianopolis and celebrate the New Year
somewhere less crazy, crowded, and packed...we thought that this would be a smart, logical, and wholly practical idea...and then decided on RIO!
I mean...what the HELL! We figured that we were here in Brazil and that if we didn't go to Rio we would regret it...and I like one of my favorite quotes (that I heard from my Irish friend, Emer) "Regret the things that you HAVE done...not the things that you HAVEN'T!"...so if going to Rio was a bad idea...what the heck...we would find out the hard way! We decided to I played soccer (leg is better) while Andrea and others watched and laughed at our efforts against the locals...cést la vie! Again, hung out at pool
bar...crashed...another shitty day in paradise!
Dec. 29, 1999 (Wed)
Big Day!!! Woke early, Andrea and I caught one of the hostel organized tour vans to the Argentinian side of Iguazu Falls.
...enroute to the Falls, some good natured talking to the driver led to a classic case of TMI...Too much Information! This 55-60 year old man happily explained that girl driving the other van was not his daughter, but rather his 6th wife (the other 5 having been dropped via divorces)...her being 17 years old and currently 3 months pregnant with his 10th kid...and his oldest daughter is 35 years ld...arrrrrrrrgggghhhhh...hmmmm...somethings are different in South America). Sometimes it is not so good to be somewhat bilingual...ignorance can be bliss...
Anyway...upon arrival at the Cataratas de Iguazu (Spanish translation for Iguazu Falls) we started above the falls by taking a boat ride. The ride led to a catwalk that was perched almost directly above the falls, an area called Garganta del Diablo (Devils throat). It was awe-inspiring! We were being pelted with water/spray/mist that was being blown up by the sheer force of the falls...everyone was happily getting drenched (thank goodness I brought my underwater camera for this occassion...good for waterfalls and
tomato fights...don't be caught without one!). Looking around and viewing the jungle foliage, trees, grasses, and almost no buildings in sight made this truly a wonderful sight.
After getting enought of being above the falls, we took the vans to a much bigger part of the park that is below the falls...and where you arguably find the most incredible pictures. We joined 2 German guys (Volker and Alex) and walked around the trails. It was a bright sunny day, hot and humid, and perfect! The trails led to a myriad of vistas and lookout points that showed off the falls. I had many opportunities to utilize my panoramic feature on my Advantix camera...and blew through probably 2 rolls of film.
We headed down to the water's edge and took one of the adventure boats that go practically under the falls. Again, another spectacular experience...the four of us were the only passengers on the boat...and the guides took us as far into the onslaught of spray and torrential downpours of water as was safe. Needless to say, we were all drenched (again) at the end of this
We were dropped off on an island in the middle of the falls...that is literally surrounded by falls...earlier we had asked our driver where we could go swimming...he said that it was not possible to go swimming in the park, but winked at us and said that on the island the best spot was immediately behind the signs saying "No Swimming/Nadar Prohibido)". Well, we found the signs...and true enough, there is a wonderful spot behind them to go swimming. We all hopped in and enjoyed the cool, refreshing water firsthand. After a while, Volker and I were feeling somewhat more adventurous...and headed up towards some of the falls.
We found a pool directly under one of the big falls and went for it! It really felt like some wild tropical adventure...we were climbing up rocks, jumping between boulders, and crossing small streams...finaly we got to the pool and under the falls! The water was pounding us...but it was a blast! It was difficult to stand under the downpour of water. Hopefully the pictures will turn out...we'll see. It rained a little...but it almost
added to the experience. We all had a great time...but were certainly ready to go when the time came.
We all left the island and returned to meet the van. We hopped back in the van and headed back towards the border to Brazil. We detoured slightly to visit an area called Tres-Fronteiras (3 frontiers)...the borders of Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay are defined by a fork in the river at this spot...from where we stood, we would see all 3 countries. We snapped some obligatory photos next to the monument, and continued onwards. Going through the border, we had to stop because everyone wanted to get their passports stamped by Argentina (for day trips, they generally don't stamp the passports)...I actually needed my passport stamped by Brazil...the guards obliged and everyone was happy.
We arrived back at the ranch...ummmm...I mean hostel...all of us were exhausted. Unfortunately, at this time, Andrea started to feel somewhat sick (which would prove to last basically until she left Brazil).
Dec 30, 1999 (Thur)
My comment of: "If you were a horse, I'd have to shoot you..." did not exactly make Andrea smile...she was feeling pretty sick...but doggedly said we should still head out for Rio...so we caught our Noon bus. Now, I am not sure you are familiar with the geography...but Foz do Iguazu is not anywhere near Rio de Janiero...the busride promised to be a not-so-fun 24 hour marathon...so Andrea's decision to go anyway was actually pretty brave for an already nauseous chica.
Originally, Andrea had worried about the bus having Air Conditioning...soon we discovered that the bus had a climate of an igloo...it was brrrrr...freaking cold...I mean teeth numbing cold! Sometime during the
night, at a bathroom stop, I implored the driver to allow me to get my sleep sheet out of my backpack which had been stored in the underside of the bus...our trip was remarkably better afterwards and we were noticably warmer.
We met 4 others on the bus...a group of South Africans...they had also been in the same hostel at Iguazu Falls...and were headed to Rio...without Reservations (Note: I had met a bunch of travellers over the past several days...all going to Rio for the New Year...it was going to be packed!)...so we were all in the same boat (figuratively...literally speaking we were all in the same bus...but this is both obvious and not the expression that I was looking for...). We chatted for a while, and agreed that when we arrived, we would all look for accommodation together...they had a small lead on a hotel (as recommended by someone they had met at the hostel) and I had some language skills (they were not lingual whatsoever in South
America...Africanze (sp?) doesn't exactly get you so far as a second language outside S. Africa and The Netherlands...hmmm...did you know that Africanze (sp?) is basically Dutch??? (go figure...)...they were happy to find someone who might make communication somewhat easier upon their arrival in Rio. Anyway...this would prove to be a wonderful idea and a great travel partnership...but for now...we all tried to sleep in a cold, constantly moving bus...zzzzzz sort of...