Iguazu Waterfalls, Mosques and a mighty dam

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South America » Paraguay » Ciudad del Este
March 27th 2015
Published: March 27th 2015
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What a week. What sights I saw and what places I have been. After my “escape” from Brazil to Paraguay, to avoid further complications in the future to enter Brazil, it was time for me to see some of the most wonderful places on the earth. Without a doubt I was not disappointed. But let’s start where I finished my last update.

After I arrived in Asuncion it was time to get back into my travel mode. Having spent two weeks in Brasilia preparing to settle down for a while, only to pack my bags and rush to leave the country, it was time to readjust myself to travel again. It didn’t take me long and after a day I had worked out what my travel route would be. Well, as far as one can plan these things ahead.

I always wanted to see the Iguazu Waterfalls, one of the new 7 modern wonders of the world, and to reach them I had to take a bus to Ciudad del Este, a border town in the south of Paraguay. Ciudad del Este lies on the border of Paraguay, Brazil and Argentina and I can tell you it is a hell of a city. And not in a nice sense. After a 7 hour bus trip from Asuncion I checked into a hostel and as usual made my way into town. I have been in a lot of border town, but I was still surprised on how hectic and dirty the place was. You see, they call Ciudad del Este the biggest shopping centre in South America and they are not wrong. When I made my way down to the Friendship Bridge, that connects Paraguay and Brazil, there are shopping malls and street stalls all over the place. Here you can buy everything electronically, from computers to air conditioning systems, and un-genuine designer cloth from China. The place is a living nightmare. Brazilians walk and drive over the bridge with nothing but cash in their pockets and return loaded up with goods. Just sitting there and just watching the people is an interesting exercise….. I was more than amused.

What also amazed me is the huge amount of second hand cars for sale. Some areas just looked like giant car lots and I wondered why that was until the owner of the hostel told me that the city is also the biggest place for stolen cars in South America. Suddenly it made sense that the cars were so cheap. But one has to wonder if that is a known fact, why doesn’t the police do anything about it? The same goes for the border crossing where you have customs officers, but do you think they do anything to stop the flow of illegal and counter fitted goods into Brazil? Nope, they just sit there and drink their Mate by the litre……

Anyway, one of the reasons why I choose to come to Ciudad del Este was that you can enter Brazil for the day without being checked for a visa. While not entirely legal, it was possible to go to the Iguazu Falls without to many problems. I should note that should one be found in doing this act they would experience severe repercussions.

So the day after I arrived I planted myself in a bus that crossed the border and was sitting there for the next hour, hardly moving. I was wondering what was happening, but nobody spoke English so I had no idea until we started crossing the bridge. They had some road works occurring and there was only one lane open. It was an unspeakable state of chaos but I made it to Brazil without any problems which was of highest importance.

Once in Brazil I took another bus to a particular National Park of Waterfalls where you can purchase an entry ticket and another bus takes you down to the falls.

What an absolute amazing experience it is! Imagine...

The bus drops you off and before you a mere glimpse, in itself already a rather impressive sight. Then you walk down the path, the noise of the falls smashing through your ears but Not just 1, not just 2 but hundreds, all of varying sizes, stretching all around you! This is the Iguazu Falls. A falls where one can walk literally straight into them. This beauty stretches 2.7 km. The grandest one is titled “The Devils Throat”, U shaped, an impressive 82 metres high, 150 meter wide and 700 meters long. You can walk straight up to it and into it thanks to a walk way.

I can earnestly say this is one of the most amazing places I have ever been to and all for the price of getting more than a little wet and an incredible noise from the very heart of Mother Earth.
It is places like this where you really appreciate the wonders of this world!

Though the really sad part was the people that were there. While many were just sitting on the edge and on the walkway to take in this incredible sight, most of the just were too busy making photos, taking selfies and just fooling around. Don’t get me wrong, I took a ton of pictures as well, but most of the time I was just sitting there and taking it all in. I might be a cranky old German bastard, but I still can be overwhelmed by the sheer beauty of nature, so overwhelmed I spent 6 hours here!

On my way back to the Paraguayan side I decided that I didn’t want to spend all the time waiting in the bus, so I just walked over the bridge. Again no problems. My visual expectations were also confirmed with streams of Brazilians heading the opposite way loaded up with such a volume of goods that one can only wonder how they manage to carry it all!

Most people are using Ciudad del Este just as a jumping point to see the waterfalls, but I was told that the city on the Brazilian side, called Foz, was also home to the largest Muslim population in Brazil and that there were some amazing mosques in town. So the day after the waterfall visit I again crossed the bridge and walked around Foz. What a contrast it was to the other site of the border. Everything was nice, clean and organised; not a sight of hectic or chaos. I found several mosques and while they were not the biggest ones I ever saw they were still pretty impressive. I also visited a Hindu temple on the outskirts of Foz which was pretty nice.

On the last day I spent visiting the Itapúa Dam, which was constructed between 1974 and 1985. This is a massive dam. It supplies 25% of the electricity needs of Brazil and 75% of Paraguay. After taking a local bus to the entry of the dam, one has to watch a 30 minute movie about the history of the dam and its construction and then a bus takes you to the dam itself. But not only to the dam, but also into it and over it. Unforgettable and greatly intriguing if you ask me. The admission is free. I guess a bit of propaganda is not always awful; especially if it is on the wonders of power engineering.

So that was my time in Ciudad del Este. It was a tremendous experience and I will never forget the sheer sight and the noise of the Iguazu waterfalls! As I mentioned before nature is amazing and it is a real privilege to have the chance to experience this place. Some say that I am lucky to have been there and I agree. But then I also have to say that I am making my own luck as well as you all can.

On this note I finish this update. I hope you enjoyed it and as usual leave a comment and like some of the amazing pictures. If you have the chance to come into this part of the world just do it. You will not regret it……

Additional photos below
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28th March 2015
Iguazu Falls

Es increíble, ver la flora y la fauna de este lugar maravilloso. Sobre todo ver a los pájaros lanzarse al vacío como si quisieran suicidarse, y verlos salir como una flecha hacia arriba, jugando con el agua. Caminar por Misiones, es caminar por el "lomo" de Madre Tierra, llena de dones y de pequeños niños. Me alegra muchísimo que hayas disfrutado y vivido la experiencia de estar en el medio del caos perfecto.
28th March 2015

Oh yes, the falls, the spray, the chaos
I visited Igwasu Falls last Nov.. My first visit was in 1995. I was amazed at how commercial and 'organized' it had become. My 1st time a taxi took me from the Argentina side through the border control on a bridge. I had no Brazilian visa but slipped about $10 into my passport (as the taxi driver had 'suggested') which had to be left with the control officers. The first time the taxi drove up along the falls, I got out, pushed away the coatmundis, and gazed in wonder. This time I took the sanctioned bus and walked the entire length saving the Devil's Throat for the grand finale. I loved your pics they are almost identical to mine- it is hard to stop taking just one more photo. I took time to sit and gaze at the wonder. I had to chuckle at your comments about your body giving out.....I am almost 73 and about to leave for Turkey and Greece. Some of the trip will be with a small tour group (concession to age) but several days in both Istanbul and Athens will be on my own. I write under the name 'gunga'. I love to travel in South and Central Am. but most people look at me strangely when I say that- they are all about Western Europe, which is fine, but often makes me feel that I am just looking at different versions of myself. Carolyn/Gunga
30th March 2015

Thank you for comment
Hi Carolyn. Thank you so much for your comment. I always appreciate it when people write on the blog. Than I know that people actually read it. Yes the falls have changed as does everything in life. When I was the first time in Peru in 1982 it was so different. Machu Picchu was just a dream and the town below didn't exist. You can find a picture of it at the beginning of the South America trip. Word on the street is that they actually want to close MP next year but I think that is just a marketing trick to get more people to come. Yes traveling is a joy and I salute you for doing it at your age. People like me inspire me . And what is age anyway; just a number on some documents. We are as old as we feel. I know what you mean that people prefer Europe, but I amsure that is because they forefathers come from there and they know where their roots are from. Makes sense. I was born in Europe and now live in Australia so I guess I am a traveler by heart. The world is my oyster..... You have fun in Turkey and Greece and enjoy life. And thank you again for your comment.
2nd April 2015

Most wonderful places on earth
Wow, those are strong words and those photos back up your words. When you are finished traveling...well, not finished but take a short break you'll have to open a gallery to display your work. I look forward to standing near the falls hearing the roar and feeling the vibrations. Waiting for your next edition.
3rd April 2015

Thank you ....
.... For your comments. I loved the Iguazu falls and I hope to get there one day again. I will update my blog very soon with other adventures in Paraguay and the crossing into Bolivia. Again thank you for commenting......

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