Monday, 8 August 2011

Day Four: Argentina – Panoramic Brazil, Iguazu Falls

The confrontation of a mass of water falling 70 – 80 feet across the river; glittering in the sun – emblazoned with vibrant rainbows; and the crashing water bellowing a constant rhythm of peace and harmony among the chirping of happy birds and the irregular chanting of the river’s rapids…

It was Christmas Eve and our festi
ve celebrations were to start – the plan – Day One – Brazil, Iguaçu Falls; Day Two – Argentina, Iguaçu Falls.

7am breakfast – simple bread and confiture (jam) plus a surprise addition of a ham and cheese omelette. Tucked in our stomachs; sacks filled with snacks; on a coach to towards Foz (the town in Brazil on the other side of the Falls) by 9am.

Bus change just after the passport checkpoint – a short walk then a second small bus to the entrance.  (Unless you have someone with you who knows where they’re going or you follow others – suggest you go Straight to Foz then change bus there).

Once in the park it was a short coach ride to the first scenic point (we still had very little knowledge of what we were letting ourselves in for – photos give you an impression but not until you see it with your own eyes).

We made our way along the path and as the thick threes thinned we were suddenly taken aback by the confrontation of a mass of water falling 70 – 80 feet across the river; glittering in the sun – emblazoned with vibrant rainbows; and the crashing water bellowing a constant rhythm of peace and harmony among the chirping of happy birds and the irregular chanting of the river’s rapids.

The green of the undergrowth; redness of the soil and water; together with the silver of the water drops filled every sense pushing out any imagination or preconception; instead for the first time in my life I was there – here – in full – no more; no less. I was just Ryan; watching nature. Ryan the boy – the man – no inadequacies; no problems; no issues and certainly no dramas.

My body froze; standing in absolute awe; struggling to identify what to take in. Iguaçu Falls Nature Reserve takes you on a journey – it leads you on the experience and ensures you take everything in. Your job – simply move your body along the trail.

The Brazilian side gives you the panoramic view – watching the waters from great heights drop to the river below.

As we made our way to Devil’s Throat (where the greatest volume of water falls) we were to be reawoken from our very real day dream in a very surreal way – out of nowhere I felt an intense prick on my skin – then swarming around us appeared to be large mosquitoes – we ran, shaking them off; discovering them clinging to our clothes, bags and caps. With force we shook these evil bugs away letting out shrilling screams while investigating the injuries we sustained. It appeared these animals had pinned their large nostrils in us like needles and a cushion. These areas swelled to the size of golf balls and continued to throw a pounding pain. As we reached the mist of Devil’s Throat nature began to cool the pain and our bodies again became mesmerised by the falling water.

Devil’s Throat is a gorge of water falling from the river. Such huge quantities my mind wanders to the sheer destruction that must occur beneath as the volume smacks against the under rock. The formation of these falls have been ever evolving over 1000’s of years constantly attacking the rock and filing it away from existence into particles then washed downstream.

The power makes me consider the impact it would have on a human body – a story in Lonely Planet guide tells of a boat of German tourists – in 1923 it was permitted for row boats to go to the edge of the fall for spectators to take photos and gain a unique experience. However this meant the rower had to paddle furiously to prevent the boat joining the current to the bottom – however one occasion the rower failed to keep the boat locked from the edge; so he and the 15 tourists went over – swallowed by Devil’s Throat. I assume their bones were smashed to pieces.

This story and my imagination blew all ideas out of proportion with the magnitude of the water’s power.

Iguaçu Falls park is just superb for tourists – viewing bridges take you to the centre of the river delivering a 360 experience; as the water comes charging towards you then beneath your feet downstream forming rumbling rapids. The noise drowns the rest of nature’s cries. Birds fly in and out of the raining river – nesting behind the water curtain in damp darkness – who knows what lies behind there – surely a wall of mystery; undiscovered plant life and forgotten animals; a secret habitat unto itself.

Devil’s Throat is the end of the panoramic view on the Brazil side; it was time to go back to Sweet Hostel for Christmas Eve to celebrate the festivities with the rest of the guests over a traditional Argentine BBQ. Just as we stepped foot into the hostel the rain fell – unlike Britain there was no temperature drop; instead a warm closeness that made you feel at home.

The BBQ had started – local red wine was sitting on the table; sausages; chorizo, pork, beef de chorizo and chicken were all grilling over hot coals and wood. The table was certainly a meeting of cultures and countries from France, UK, Japan, Malta, Belgium, Spain and South America. The evening was light and jovial and continued until 1am seeing in Christmas Day and sending our love to family and friends back home. Time for bed so we were fresh for another day at Iguaçu Falls.

Bus to Brazil/Argentina border: AR$7
Bus to Iguazu Falls National Park: AR$6
Entrance to National Park: AR$92.50
Christmas Eve BBQ: AR$70