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balance (2): iguazu

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

iguazu

just got back from iguazu falls, and i am happy to report that it is much cooler than i expected it to be. the national park straddles the borders of argentina, brazil, and paraguay. puerto iguazu (the city on the argentinian side) is smack in the middle of very thick, lush rainforest. i was impressed to see how vast it was from the plane. and a bit scared to drive through it alone with my taxi driver who displayed the common trait of staring at me in the mirror instead of paying attention to the road!



on monday morning i woke early and walked to the bus station. paid 8 pesos to get to the park. apparently it was some sort of national holiday, so i had almost the entire place to myself for most of the day! at the entrance, next to the visitor center, is a little train station, and the train takes you through the jungle and drops you off at the trailheads. i did all the trails... i was hot and steamy, which i love... and full of animals! i was disappointed not to see toucans, but i saw lots of other gorgeous birds and insects, monkeys, huge lizards, colorful butterflies, and little rodent things i can't remember the name of.





and then there were the falls! they were very impressive from the upper and lower circuits, but it wasn't until i did the last trail (devil's throat i think) that i saw how magnificent they really are. pictures can't do it justice at all... from the top you see what appears to be a lake, but as you move closer the lake becomes a steaming pit of rushing water, huge falls (bigger than niagara) cascading into the jungle canyons below, full of rainbows... really cool.


see if this video works











when i had stood staring so long that i found myself soaked, i made my way back over the river and through the jungle again until i came upon a sign for an eco-tour on a boat. there was one muslim girl (from the US) waiting, and they decided to take just the two of us. we floated down the river for about an hour... didn't see many animals but had a great conversation in spanish with our guide. i wish i could have spent more time with both of them, they were great people, and it was a lovely ride. after the tour i stopped and had a cafe con leche and an alfajor (hello addict), and hopped on the bus back into town, very satisfied with my day.



the next morning it was pouring rain and kind of chilly, which set the tone of my day. i had planned to cross over to the brazilian side of the falls and trek through the park there. got to the bus ok, got through immigration ok, got all the way through to the other side of foz do iguacu (city in brazil) before i realized i must have missed the stop for the falls. the driver confirmed this and kicked me off towards the other side of the street to catch a bus going in the opposite direction. problem was, i don't speak portugese, and i had only argentinian pesos (no brazilian money). luckily another bus driver took pity on me, and took me back to the central station (really sketchy) and showed me which bus to get on to get back to the park. i asked the bus attendant to tell me where to get off. he called out to me when we arrived in the middle of nowhere, on the highway. i shrugged and got off. there was no sign of the park anywhere. i asked at a hotel nearby but they didn't speak english or spanish... they did manage to get through though that i was totally in the wrong place. i walked for about 2 miles along the highway (creepy guys yelling at me all the way) and 2 miles back to where the bus dropped me off and i never found the park entrance. finally decided to wave down another bus. 3 busses went by and ignored me completely. finally another bus headed back to argentina slowed down for me, and i gave up. i had already seen the best of the falls from argentina, and i guess i got a little adventure in brazil. and that was that!

back in buenos aires, 2 weeks left... considering not going back to thailand! but not sure at all where else i would go. hmmm.

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