Published: March 26th 2012March 26th 2012
The Three Countries
I am standing in Argentina, to the side is Brazil and at the top of the photograph is Paraguay
Yesterday I was at a loss for what to do with my day when one of my brazilian friends suggested a trip to the Three Border Landmarks. I thought great, sounds like a nice day out, when it was then explained to me that we couldn't visit this on the Brazilian side as it was not a safe neighbourhood so instead we were off to Argentina.
So, just like that we jumped on a bus, paid our £1.25 and crossed the border to Argentina, hopping off of the bus to get my passport checked and stamped. For the locals, this is a regular bus trip as everything is much cheaper in Argentina and instead of their passports they must just show their identity card. After maybe 20 minutes on the bus we were in Puerto Iguazu, the small argentinian town that is located by the falls themselves.
Moving from Brazil to Argentina was a very strange experience. In such a short amount of time, you truly feel that you have entered another country as the roads become dustier and drier and the cars become older and less expensive looking than those in Brazil. Entering Puerto Iguazu
you feel as if you have been taken back in time as the town feels older and sleepier than its brazilian neighbour. You also have to remind yourself that in Argentina the language is Spanish, this is strange after so many weeks listening to the strange but intriguing sound of Portuguese you are suddenly listening to the more excitable sounds of Spanish. Puerto Iguazu does have a nice feel to it though, the town's heritage is much more obvious than that of Foz do Iguaçu and you can find many more artesanal products there. There are stalls and shops housing windchimes and carved wooden trinkets and many precious stones crafted into beautiful things, all made by local Indian people.
We passed through the town stopping for a drink and to pick up some bits for our picnic lunch, before making our way up the hill to the Argentinian Landmark. The sun was incredibly strong and the walk was surrounded by beautiful scenery as the road travels alongside the Iguaçu River, the river that forms a natural border between Argentina and Brazil. Everywhere around us was very peaceful and you really felt as if you could have been in the
middle of nowhere. Further ahead of us we could see where the Iguaçu River met with the Paraná River, the Paraná serves as a natural border between Brazil and Paraguay. Where the rivers touched is where all three countries can be seen at once, for someone who lives on an Island it was hard to understand that different countries could be reached so easily and could be seen together in this way. Finding a seat and adjusting to the scorching feel of it, we enjoyed out picnic lunch. It was truly wonderful to look out on the glittering rivers, landmarks, dense forests and the intense sunshine.
At the point of meeting all three countries have a landmark showing their flag colours, it was easy to see those of Argentina and Paraguay with their bright colours however the Brazilian statue was more difficult to spot as the green of it merged with the surrounding forest. Each country also has a monument showing the flags of all three countries, marking the importance of the place. It was a calm day with little wind so the flags did not open and fly as they can do but it was still an interesting
place to be.
Leaving the monument and road we heard music and the chatter of lots of people, as we drew closer we could see that a street party was in full swing. When we asked a local man what the party was celebrating, he told us that it was to celebrate the completion of the road that we were on. I honestly couldn't believe it. A party because they had finished constructing a road?! But really that seems to sum up the Latin American spirit, any excuse for some music, dancing and joy is grasped and relished. We sat awhile and listened to the music, a bright, lively style to which you cannot help but move. The rhythm was provided by the police band and was the foundation of the party atmosphere. After soaking up the atmosphere we headed back down towards the town and to our bus. It was a very tiring day but well worth it, I will definitely be making my way over the border a few times more before coming home.
So my first experience of Argentina was great, although I am still trying to get my head around the huge differences between
the two towns that border the Iguaçu falls. Maybe as I continue to absorb the local cultures and learn more of their histories, it will start to make more sense, or maybe this will raise more questions. Either way, I look forward to finding out!
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