Published: October 27th 2008October 7th 2008
After 46 hours of bus rides from the north of Brazil I have finally made it to Iguazu the second biggest waterfalls in the world! It is difficult to describe the sheer might of these grand falls in mere words, even photos pale in comparison to reality. One really needs to see to believe the awesome power and majesty of this phenomenal feat of nature.
The falls border with Argentina and Brazil, and both sides have their own avantages. The Brazilian side gives an overall glimpse of the falls from afar whereas on the Argentinean side there are various trails you can take to get a more in depth view of the falls from many different angles. When up close its amazing to feel the energy coming from the falls, its impossible even to hear anything as the rush of the water is quite deafening. For the courageous or in my mind stupid, there is a boat ride you can get that takes your right up to the mouth of the waterfall and most end up completely soaked to the bone by the end of the experience.
Nearby in Itaipu, is a largest hydro-electric generator that
Bird Sanctuary, Foz do Iguazu
is second only to the Three Gorges dam in electrical generation ( They settle for second best alot around here ) and provides enough electricity for 26 million people simply from the water flowing from the river Parana. That is quite a lot of light bulbs! Its a good stopover especially at night where there is a spectacular illumination session where the whole dam is lit up against the nighttime sky.
If that isn't enough, just outside the entrance for the Brazilian side of the falls is an amazing bird sanctuary where a myriad of bird species can be found including Toucans, Guaras, Pelicans and a plentitude of others that are found all over South America. The great advantage of these is you can go inside most of the enclosures to get a close up view. Most seem quite happy here with quite large and well maintained areas for them to live in. The Toucan is a very interesting and beautiful bird, alot of them seemed to have different characters as some were quite shy and kept to themselves and others were interacting with alot by trying to steal water bottles and un-tie shoelaces from the unsuspecting visitors
with their beaks. There is a small butterfly and Hummingbird enclave where there are thousands of butterflies fluttering about without any concern about the incoming visitors. The Hummingbird is a fantastic creature, it seems to hover about more like a dragonfly than a bird and zips around so fast it took quite sometime before I could get a decent photo of one.
23 hours by bus back in Rio it is 26c and sunny mid afternoon in Rio de Janeiro. I walk down the main boulevard across from one of the most famous beaches of Copacabana. It is a Saturday and the beach is teaming with people relaxing from the week they left behind. The boardwalk and Palm trees reminded me of Los Angeles but the bustling chaos of the traffic and people remind me more of London yet neither have the style and sassyness this city seems to exude at every pour.
Rio is definitely a hectic city, as you arrive you are greeted by the enormous harbour that contains grand ships that testify this citys mega manufacturing power. Even at the crack of dawn the streets become filled with the deafening noise of buses and
Token Toco Toucan
Bird Sanctuary, Igauzu
cars and there is the usual thick smog that accompanies a modern metropolis. Yet the people appear to go about themselves with little stress and worry. It is the beginning of spring here and the weather has not been the best but you can still smell and feel the carnival atmosphere in the air even though it is still so months off. The nightlife is buzzing with excitement most nights of the week. A multitude of music styles, rhythms and thumping sounds ooze and resonate throughout the city´s concrete underbelly.The curious thing is that even on weeknights, the bars and clubs do not start to get busy until way past midnight and last into the wee hours of the morning, its hard to see where the people find the time to work.
What astounds me the most is every ones attitude and carefree nature especially from what I saw when going out. Glowing smiles and eyes that shine with fun and passion, they also seem to have a complete loss of all inhibitions is something the west has forgotten about. Endless worry of job cuts, retirement funds, mortgages and the like that hang such a heavy weight on
so many peoples shoulders. It must also exist here yet everyone I met seems to be living in that everlasting moment where none of these everyday troubles and problems matter and don't even exist.
Sure not everything is strawberries and cream in this big city. Brazil and in particularly Rio has one of the highest divisions between rich and poor in the world. Around central Rio, Favelas or shanty towns are scattered around and aren't even shown on any of Rios maps or are even considered a legal entity by Brazilian authorities. Most of the houses here are built using anything one can find including garbage, and most build houses on top of another so that they can make the most of the available space. Alot of these areas are a magnet for drug activity and the lords that control them normally don't get older than their mid 20s before being taken out by someone in the upper management usually in their late teens. I didn't end up going on the Favela tour because I didn't want to pay the entrance fee of my camera and the contents of my wallet. However, I do hear that with every
ticket you receive a complimentary 8 ball of crack to make the experience much more authentic and memorable.
I'm am not sure what is the story with the buses here, they seem like what you would get on a first class plane flight. Fully reclining seats, substantial leg room, complimentary blankets, pillows and even a cup holder! The conductor even comes out and gives a big speil about where the emergency exits are. I am just waiting for some under clad Brazilian stewardess to come down the aisle with a drinks cart serving Caprinhas. For the exhortative price im paying for the privilege ( more than the price for a bus in England ) im expecting a full deluxe back massage. Has the world gone topsy turvy or what? Is this the same South America I have been told about, im expecting holes in the road, buses rusting to bits, flat tyres and maniac bus drivers driving around corners at a hundred miles an hour! Where is the excitement and challenge anymore, its almost becoming shudder to think, like a holiday!
One other thing I fail to understand is the artic-like temperatures on the buses, whoever
decided that to be packed into a freezer is a comfortable temperature to be travelling in? There is cool air outside, instead of guzzling precious expensive fuel to turn everyone into an icicle has anybody heard of opening a window? It is impossible to believe the ignorance of many people in todays society where we don't care how we use our commodities and are destroying the earth in the process, sure I'm a hypocrite too, i shouldn't even be going places, its not even necessary, we should just all do ourselves in! The world would be much better off. However this is not my style, I prefer to rant about it on some free travel site to people who are bored at work, probably strung out on soy lattes and bored of playing solitaire wishing they were here complaining about luxury buses in Brazil, yeh that definitely more my style.
So I have arrived in Argentina and I found out that the buses have a fat, oversized tourist class and a scrawny, stingy traveler class too. Fit with coffee machines and wait a minute there is a window that can be opened! I'm liking this place already. However,
I'm still waiting for the good looking stewardesses serving refreshments...
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