D at the falls (mop top)
Hopefully this was our last overnight bus. We cound´t have slept less if we tried. We arrived to a chilly rainy Foz quite early in the morning. Groggily we found out if the park was open or not and put on our rain gear and headed for the Falls. Our bus ride through Foz during rush hour was dreary and the city, like most border towns, looked pretty crappy like most border towns. We were glad we were not planning on staying the night as it looked a little unsavory. Arriving to the park that holds the Falls is a little like arriving to a Disney theme park. We bought our tickets, read a little about why these falls are here in the first place and got on the bus that would take us to the place to start our walk to the falls. While on the bus there was a recording of birds and general forest noises (we´re in the forest, can´t we just listen to the real noises?) and a woman telling us in Portuguese, English, and Spanish about all the attractions at each bus stop (with a robotic voice, "these are optional activities, and are not included in the admissions price") .
We got off the bus with a huge herd of tourists and decided this would be a good time to take a break and eat some breakfast. We found a nice little spot with a great view of the falls and good for people-watching. We began our "hike" to the falls. The hike was on a huge paved sidewalk with a million other tourists but there were great panoramic views of the falls nonetheless. These falls are incredible. If you´ve ever been to Niagara Falls, the Iguazu variety make Niagara look like amatuer hour. Its very hard to describe as they are an incredible natural phenomenon and we are certainly not poets. Nonetheless a little attempt shall be made. The Iguazu Falls are incredibly large and in fact unless you get on a helicopter it is impossible to look at the same time at all or even a substantial part of all the wateralls.
About 1/4 of the falls... If that...
Which is why to see them whole you first must walk around the Brazilian side and then Argentinian side. While "hiking" along, we saw some curious little creatures that looked like a cross between a raccoon and an anteater. Em pulled a plastic bag containing the photo camera out of her pocket and the little bugger stood on his hind legs and tried to grab it. Em threw the bag Danilo´s way, and he showed this animal that there was no food in the bag. Turns out these critters are very used to tourists feeding them food from plastic bags so for them plastic bag = food. Once the little guy realized we didn´t have food in this particular plastic bag he went up to a group of tourists behind us and did the same for a few seconds, but suddenly decided that begging wasn`t worthwhile and simply tore a plastic bag from the hands of a woman and in so many words, attacked the plastic bag.
Emily with water crashing behind her
The tourists started freaking out, although none of them attempted to grab the bag away from the small beast. The leader of the tour, an overweight chain smoker, would yell directions as to what to do without doing anything herself. All of a sudden, about 10 of this critter`s friends showed up, each wanting a peice of whatever was in that plastic bag. The raccoon with the bag sensed that his prize was in jeopardy so he took off running into the woods with plastic bag in tow. The tourists were frantic by this point and one called out "Grab it by the foot!". At this point, D and Em were laughing uncontrollably, while the tourists and animals ran amock. After that we continued walking towards the various, all gorgeous, panoramic views of the falls all along the path. Just when you thought there could not be more falls, more appeared, bigger and more spectacular. There was a walkway that took you basically to the bottom of one of the falls. It was very wet and nooisy but so cool to see it up close. After a few hours walking around in the park, we decided it was time to get on with our day and get to Argentina. Once back in Foz, we walked around for about an hour looking for a camping gas tank (why does this always happen to us?). Everyone we asked told us to look in a different place and after a while we gave up, ate lunch, and jumped on the bus to Argentina. The border crossing into Argentina was no problem, but the bus situation was highly disorganized. We missed one bus and had to wait a while for another one so we decided to go to the Duty Free Store (about 50 meters away from immigrations). When we got to the duty free building, the woman at the entry point panicked because she was supposed to stamp us into Argentina and we already had gotten the entry stamp. She couldn`t deal with the fact that we simply walked to the duty free building after getting our passports stamped. Almost in panic she suggested that we get our exit stamp from Argentina, and only then she could stamp us back into it and allow us into the duty free. In fact, if we decided to do that, we might have had to go back to Brazil to get our entry and exit stamps. Kafka would be damn proud. We looked at each other and decided to stop the insanity and grabbed a bus to Puerto Iguazu
. Once in the lovely little town of Puerto Iguazu, we searched for a hotel. We were surprised how expensive lodging was because our book promised it would be so cheap. Turns out Argentina is suffering from some major inflation and as the guy who ran the hotel explained to us, "Its the 9th of July". Ohhhh, the 9th of July. We still don´t know what that means but apparantly its a national holiday and Iguazu was flooded with tourists. We also found out that it is kid´s winter break from school so there are families everywhere on vacation. After a long and triring day, we did what everyone should do on a day like that, drink a lot of beer and eat delicious cheesy pizza.