Olá! We´re finally in Brazil and it´s pouring with rain!! Sitting in an internet cafe in Foz do Iguacu soaked through to our skin. But we´re still smiling because we never have to return to Posadas :-). We´ve met a few Argentinians over the last 4 days and every time we tell them we´ve just spent a month in Posadas a look of horror appears on their face before they ask... ´WHY?!?´ I think it´s like telling an Englishman you´ve spent a month of your life in Stoke-on-Trent. Anyway, since its raining we thought we´d take the opportunity to do a final Argentinian update, which thankfully ended on an overwhelming high. However, before we get onto that we have to give credit where credit is due. After 4 days reflection we have decided that Posadas is amazing for one thing...ludicrously cheap ice cream.
Since the previous blog, teaching continued on much the same note. Jim, another volunteer who featured in a previous blog entry photo, joined in with the fun and games and suffered the boredom of 4 more strike days. We did however have a couple of ´good days´ we´ll dwell on these instead..
Olie and I spent a
lovely weekend with Pilar in her very basic holiday home in Ituzaingo, Corrientes. This tiny little town on the bank of Rio Parana had a gorgeous river beach and lots of little cafés and bars. A welcome break from boring Posadas! We spent the sunny Friday on the beach until sunset and enjoyed a traditional family asado (Argentinian BBQ) cooked up by Pilars son and girlfiend. Whilst Pilar spent the rest of her weekend on slot machines in the casino, we sheltered from the rain in cosy cafés and fitted in a visit to the nearby controversial Yacyreta hydroelectric dam which caused the relocation of some 40,000 people. The 1km dam stretches across the Argentinian/Paraguayan border, flooding a number of river islands, wiping out local widelife and the beaches of Posadas (grrr!) Unfortunatly the 20 turbines only produce 60% of the originally anticipated energy...whoops....´its South America guys!´
Due to strikes we also managed to fit in a trip to one of the other volunteering projects; El Puma Ecological Reserve, an animal refuge with injured or orphaned local wildlife. Highlights included 6 massive jaguars (one had apparantly eaten a man!), some 3 legged coaties, lots of monkeys, a baby anteater and
even (Olie´s favourite) an adult and baby Brazilian tapir. The 3 hour round trip on various local buses was also an interesting experience.
Friday 18th November could not have arrived quickly enough. After a 7.30am year 5 class and a few fairwells we were FINALLY on our way to Puerto Iguazu; gateway to Iguazu Falls. Puerto Iguazu is a tiny little tourist town with the highlight being a local produce market full of olives, cheeses, cold meats and wine. After giving it the once over we chose our man and tucked into a cold platter and our final Argentinian cerveza.
Iguazu Falls – Day 1 – Argentinian Side:
Eager to fit in as much as we could in the only day forecast with sun, we got up at 6.30am and caught a bus to Cataratas Del Iguazu. According to the Lonely Planet, this is one of the planets most awe inspiring sights and was recently voted one of the new 7 wonders of the natural world. Expectations were high and it didnt disappoint. It was a beautiful sunny day with hundreds of blue, yellow and purple butterflies filling the various boardwalks that have been built to help you navigate
the near 3km long falls. First up was the Paseo Superior (or Upper trail) which offered spectacular views from the top of the first set of falls, a series of around 10 seperate cascades powering into the Parana river below. We then took the Paseo Inferior (you´ve guessed it – lower trail) descending down the river and, at points, practically at the bottom of the falls we had just peered over. Next up was an exhilerating speed boat ride that literally takes you underneath one of the slightly smaller falls known as ´the three musketeers´ before doing the same under the immense spary of the massive ´Salto San Martin´. Completely drenched we jumped off the boat, politley refused the on-board DVD in which we had been labelled as New Zealanders, and picniced in the sun to dry off. Feeling rejuventaed after lunch we embarked upon the 5km Macuco trail through gorgeous rainforest to the Salto Arrechea, a hidden waterfall and natural pool. We had a wonderfully refreshing (freezing!) dip in the pool and spotted a capybara and lots of giant lizards on the way back. The mid-thirties temperature had taken its toll so we joined the young, the old and
the very old on the train up to Estacion Garganta Del Diablo - the location of the proverbial jewel in the crown, the waterfall of the same name. The only way to get to the waterfall is over 1km of walkways across the vast Rio Iguazu. The speed of the water rushing under our feet was a bit unnerving and I was a bit worried the walkway would collapse and sweep us over the falls. Olie laughed and told me to stop being ridiculous until we walked passed a floating collapsed walkway complete with sign - ´walkway collapsed due to flooding of 1992´. Obviously it didn´t collapse and we made it to the viewing platform in one piece. It was quite simply breathtaking. The look-out platfrom is brilliantly perched right on the edge of the deafening torrent of water. There is so much spray and vapour you can´t see the base of the falls. It just gushes up at you in a smoke like plume. Rainbows magicaly form every few seconds following the spray and at one point formed a complete rainbow circle! Photos can´t capture it. You just HAVE to come and see for yourself.
We walked away overawed,
amazed and completely soaked. It felt like we´d experienced more in one day than we had in the previous month. That eve we enjoyed free capriniahs and a hostel asado with some amazing baby beef and dare I say it...blood sausage! An amazing end to our 2 months in Argentina.
Iguazu Falls – Day 2 – Brazil Side:
Sunday...waited an hour for our bus to Foz do Iguacu and then got dumped at the border with no instructions. Interesting start to Brazil. Found immigration and then waited for yet another bus to take us into Foz; Brazils´ 11th largest city and definately not its most interesting. With our big backpacks on and no reais to hand, we walked to the hotel where my small bag had hopefully been deposited 2 months before. After a tense 10min wait, we were finally reunited (and later that day Olie finally opened the rest of his birthday presents). We carried on in search of an ATM and ended up walking half the length of the city. Our shoulders were on fire! By 11am we´d dumped our bags at our hostel and were back on the road, this time heading to the Brazillian side
of the falls – Parque Nacional do Iguacu. This side offer s better panormaic views of the falls but in our opinion lacks the wow factor of the Argentinian side. A cloudier day and the fact that we´d already seen the falls definitely had an impact. Nevertheless, the main elevated viewing platform and a hungry coati (who attached himself to an Indian tourists picnic bag) made the visit worthwhile. All in all though, its a unanimous vote for the Argentinian side, and definately a must-see for everyone.
I think thats about everything, so we´ll sign off for now. Tomorrow we fly to Manaus, which is also forecast to have heavy rain...but I guess we have to expect that in the middle of the Amazon rainforest! Tchau tchau from Brazil. Xxx
(PS. If any of this is illegible, I´m going to blame it on the Portuguese autocorrect rather than my appauling spelling)
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