Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Iguazu Falls

Since my last post, a New Year has started, numerous international borders have been crossed and many, many photos have been taken. I blame a busy schedule and a lack of reliable internet connections for not having posted in just over a week. To keep this interesting, I will do one post for each stop over the last week so that it breaks it up to a well sized easy read.
So, to pick up where we left off: going to Foz do Iguacu, Brasil.
After a short, direct flight from Rio, we landed in Foz, checked into our hostel and took a bus straight to see the Brazilian side of the famous Iguazu Falls (the spelling of the name of the falls varies based on whether or not you're writing in spanish or portuguese, but I prefer it with a "Z" so the spanish version wins). It was suggested to us from many sources that we needed to see the falls from both the Argentine and the Brazilian side, and that it would take the better part of a day to do the Argentine side, where the Brazilian side would only take a few hours.
A couple of cheap bus rides later, we arrived at the falls. The site was well organized and the lines were efficient. We took one of the trails that runs along the canyon overlooking the falls that leads towards the "main fall": the devil's throat. It was all very spectacular. Part of the trail includes a walkway that goes out into the falls area and you get very soaked from all the water spray. Lots of good photo opportunities as well. I think that day alone, Matthew and I took a good 400 photos! As the park closed at 5, we had just enough time to walk the trail, go up the lookout, and then catch the very crowded bus back to town.
Once we got back to the hostel, we decided to take a dip in the small pool by the outdoor patio and bar. There, we met two other travelling couples, one from South Africa and one from Canada. We spent much of the evening hanging out and chatting with them. Others joined us throughout the night, but due to a poor memory, I don't remember details (sorry, peoples!). Nonetheless, nights like that are one of the main reasons I like to stay at hostels: you just never know when you'll make a new friend!
After a short sleep, we awoke to take another couple of buses and crossed into Argentina to see the falls from their side. The views were nothing short of breath taking. Every time you saw them, you thought "this is nice", and then take a picture. Two steps later, you'd say "wow, this is even nicer" and take another picture. This went on and on. We took another 400 photos! Thank goodness for 4GB memory cards!
After another dip in the pool, and a couple of drinks during happy hour (I think Caipariniha might be Matthew's new favourite drink), we had a late dinner of tasty beef and then hit the hay.
Our third and final day in Foz was spent crossing yet another border, this time to Paraguay. As I hope to see as many countries as I can in my lifetime, I figured this was likely my best opportunity to check this small landlocked country off my list. I had heard mixed things about the possibility of getting a visa at the border or even needing one at all, so Matthew and I decided not to take the chance of being deported from Paraguay and got them in Ottawa before we left for our trip. I had read a great deal that the city and country were unsafe and that we should really watch our things, but luckily we didn't encounter any real problems. I was unsure what to expect from Ciudad del Este since I'd only heard about the shopping there. Well, it turns out, the only things to do in the city is shop. The markets were a bit nuts and crowded - dare I say far more crazy than anything I experienced in South East Asia! You could buy just about anything there, however, that doesn't mean that things were cheaper. In fact, most electronics we looked at were more expensive than they are back home. Needless to say, we only bought a couple of souvenir shirts and my requisite magnets before crossing back into Brazil to do our final Brazilian souvenir shopping and getting an early night's sleep. We had an early morning flight to catch on New Year's eve to visit our next destination: Montevideo, Uruguay.

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