Foz do Iguaçu, Brazil
Another town, another hostel, another room… but this is hostel luxury! We have our own mini-cabana in the tropical gardens surrounding the hostel. There is a pool, a lively bar and a canteen (serving the usual Brazilian fare of rice, black beans, more rice, more black beans and oh! some meat thrown in!). A great place to chill out after a hard days waterfall-watching. Foz seems very touristy after the wild-west feel of the Pantanal – but its not surprising since one of the world´s best waterfall spectacles is here (and anyway its so great to be back in civilization!)The town itself is pretty dead as all the hotels are miles out. We went into a little shop there one day and the chinaman who owned it looked quite surprised and asked where we were from. He didnt speak any Spanish but he spoke Portugese and had never heard of New Zealand at all… he pulled out a map and we showed him where it was. His face was a picture – “but.. its SO small….. and SO far away!” he kept saying – he just couldn´t get over it! He refused to believe we could have got a direct flight from there to Santiago in 12 hours and as his flight from China was 36 hours through Europe and America. A very funny incident! Iguaçu falls are right on the border of Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay and there´s a point where you can see all 3 countries. From the Brazilian side you get the far off ´all encompassing´ view of many of the 275 different waterfalls. At times they look like one huge waterfall and at other times you can see each one is distinct, crashing down into the Iguaçu river below. They are surrounded by subtropical rainforest which makes their beauty and power stand out even more. After seeing the Brazilian side we were impressed but not astounded – that came the next day seeing them from the Argentine side – wow! Several different catwalks above the forest lead you to all sorts of views – from right up close and a thundering cascade of water to seeing them in the distance – a tiny trickle in the midst of the rainforest. This was the view from the Sheraton Hotel where we decided to treat ourselves to a lunch which didn´t include rice and beans – fantastic! (veggies at last hurrah!). An interesting view came from being in a boat dodging the rapids at the bottom… it wasn´t until we were queuing up for this that I realised the boat actually goes under the falls… Then they gave us a plastic bag to protect our stuff as we got on the boat. I began to suspect we would be getting more than just the ´spray´! Drenched was an understatement, but it definitely makes you appreciate the power of the water and just how much of it there is! The best view though, as always, came last and challenged even the Patagonain Glaciers for its spectacle. Its called the ´Devil´s Throat´- a semi-circle of waterfalls. This is where you get to stand at the very top of the most incredible volume of water you can imagine as it crashes 80m into the river below. The bottom is just a mass of white froth and steam and while we were there a rainbow seemed to start from the steam and rise right into the rainforest. The sheer noise of the water roaring below is enough to make you realise that here nature is more powerful than anything man could ever dream up. If you look down and imagine falling in you know you would only last a few seconds! Its getting very hard to impress us now, but this certainly did, it was worth every minute of the 17 hour bus journey to get here! Perhaps that´s why I wasn´t overly impressed when Jason dragged me to do a tour of the ´Itaipu Dam´. Apparently the worlds largest Hydro-electric power station and ´one of the world´s greatest tourist attractions´ according to the hilarious OTT video we had to watch before the tour. We were bombarded with stats – 2600m long… 10 years to build….enough steel for a 25 storey building every 55 mins during construction… do you want more??? I did try to get excited about the ´7th wonder of the modern world´ and I know my Dad and brother will be ashamed of me but to me it was more like the ´7th biggest lump of concrete in the world´… For a start, where was the water? The bus drove us over it and around it but I didn´t see any of this mighty water power they had been on about! Even Jason was disappointed about this. Yes I am such a cynic, sorry, I am sure it was interesting…. I suppose its amazing that man can turn nature to his advantage on such a large scale – it provides 95% of Paraguays electricity and 25% of Brazil´s (perhaps the rest of Brazil´s is from the 2 enormous nuclear power plants which are interestingly situated in the middle of it´s most beautiful coastline on an earthquake fault-line!) but I much prefer natural attractions! p.s. sorry but I am not technologically advanced enough to make pictures appear in the text!