Argentina 2009 – Day 8

Just as I was finishing and logging off last night, the power to the whole suite went out. I think we overloaded the 1970’s electricity with our various electronic items we needed to charge overnight. Thankfully, the repair team was on the ball and we were back up and running in time to go to bed.

I woke up this morning feeling like an ant under a microscope! In my tiredness last night, I neglected to shut the blinds, and as a result, the morning sun hit me and warmed me up. In a half-asleep stupor, I managed to close half the blinds, enough to shield me. We did sleep in a little, but managed to get our first free breakfast of the trip. It was actually quite good, and allowed us to fill up before the big adventure today. Today is our full Iguazu day, so we were determined to do the river boat ride up to and into the spray of the falls as well as head down to Puerto Iguazu.

We selected the 10:30 departure that included the rain forest trek, and as we were waiting at the departure station, I noticed the photos they had of the falls during it’s highest and lowest flows in recent history. It is amazing the variation – especially during the drought of two years ago. There was barely anything trickling over the edge at all, and just looked more like a cliff than anything. We finally boarded the jeep into the jungle. It was very much like the Kiliminjaro Safaris at Animal Kingdom, but slightly less comfortable. Since there were only 5 English speakers, the majority of the tour was in Spanish, and then she would give a brief summary of what was spoken in English. The jungle trek portion was a bit disappointing since we really did not see more than what we had already seen on the trails to the upper portions of the water falls.

Finally, it was time to board the boat. I knew at this point I should have put on sunblock as my skin was already on fire. We strapped on our life jackets and put all our shoes inside the water bags. I as glad we were allowed to use the cameras for a little while down the river. The “rapids” section was not very rapid at all, but the sheer cliffs on the Brazilian side more than made up for any lack of river action. For a time, I was actually in Brazil! We then pulled up near the Devil’s throat to take some good photos and then drove around to some other falls. We managed to take a bunch of photos before the driver stated – Cameras Away! I quickly wrapped everything up and put it away and then we headed into the waterfalls themselves. It was a pure adrenaline moment and the water felt so good and so cold at the same time, I was having difficulty breathing. I wish I would have taken my glasses off before hitting the falls, because everything was soaked and I could not see a darn thing. I put my glasses in my hands, which helped a lot. It was an amazing experience being below the falls and looking up to the sky.

In too short a time, our trip was over and we headed for the dock. It was nice to have dry shoes and socks to get into and the warm humid weather was drying my swimsuit and shirt quickly. The trail back to the hotel was via the Lower Falls trail which had some awesome vistas from the bottom of the falls. I took some amazing shots as we went down the trail ending up at the overlook to the Boselli Falls where I had taken a shot of the lower viewing area the day before. I decided to get a photo of the Gorn and I in full mist, and the time we were done, I was soaked again, except this time, my shoes were completely soaked. From there we all headed back to the hotel to dry off. We made a pit stop at the Dos Hermanas snack area where I got some water, and Mom found some shorts. Back at the hotel, we removed the wet items and placed them out on the balcony to try and dry before we headed into town. I was already turning beet red from the tropical sun – darn no sunblock, but thankfully was not tired like you usually get from a sunburn.

We chilled in the room for about an hour before we headed into Puerto Iguazu. Our driver Ramiro was from a company that has a contract with the hotel and was very nice, but not adventurous enough to illegally smuggle us into Brazil. I think he thought about it long and hard as we asked him, but we would never want anyone to get in trouble from our shenanigans. One option is the ferry across the river to Paraguay, but today is a holiday so it was not running. Ramiro took us around Puerto Iguazu, which looks more like a third world country than anyplace I have been so far on this trip. The streets had a hard clay color around them and there were dogs roaming the streets. Our first stop was Hito Tres Fronteras. It reminded me a lot of Four Corners because this is the one spot in Argentina where you can see Paraguay and Brazil and Argentina all at the same time. Again, it was frustrating to be so close and yet so far to where you want to go! Stupid Visa! Our driver then took us to a vantage point where we could see the International border bridge to Brazil. He even drove us to the International Casino that is next to the bridge and I was able to take a photo of customs. He drove us down, and I think he thought of it for a moment, but then decided to turn around and take us back into Puerto Iguazu.

We wanted to get something to eat, but it was still early and none of the shops and restaurants was open yet. Ramiro took us to La Aripuca, a traditional wood house made of huge redwood trees. Did I say they were large? Because man, they are large trees and it was a large house. It reminded me of the Tahitian village I went to on Moorea back in 2001. They had a lot of native Indians with woodcarvings and necklaces for sale and they also had some snacks and are in the process of building a restaurant. I think that down the road, busloads of tourists will be doing the dinner and native experience show.

It was a nice distraction, and after almost heading back to the hotel, we decided to see if some shops were open. I wanted to take photos of the small central area of Puerto Iguazu, so we stopped on one street before driving around some more. I was getting thirsty so the decision was made to get some drinks. Our driver mentioned he had a friend who owned a restaurant (although upon further thought, I think he just had a friendly connection with this new restaurant in Puerto Iguazu). We stopped at the Maria Preta restaurant and met Walt. Walt was the greeter for the place and since there was little foot traffic, he spent the time chatting with us in between greets. He was from Mendoza, Argentina and his family emigrated to Ontario, Canada when he was a little boy. He and his family had been living there until 8 months ago when they were deported back to Argentina. Ever since then, he has been trying to get back his residency in Canada and move back. Four months ago, his cousin convinced him to move to Puerto Iguazu and he has been working at the restaurant ever since. He was a nice guy and Mom got lots of info from him about the local scene. He encouraged us to take the bus into Paraguay tomorrow and that it actually was not that difficult. We decided to brave the flies and ordered dinner with our drinks. The food was good and we had company not only from Walt, but a poor beagle with a hurt leg who plopped under the table for a nap. Mom had to replace one of her Malbec glasses since a fly got drunk and went for a swim. I had an adult beverage called Fernet and Coke – apparently it is very popular in Argentina and man did it pack a wallop! I can’t imagine ever drinking more than one of these puppys. We finished up our meal and thanked Walt for a great time and the information about how to get to Paraguay. Our driver showed up on schedule and we headed back to the hotel.

On approach to the hotel, I was surprised how foggy it was, but it turns out it was just the high humidity near the falls fogged everything up, including my glasses when I got out of the car. The front of the hotel was covered in bugs, and I found one that was on me awhile later after I changed into my pjs. I printed my boarding pass for tomorrow’s flight back to Buenos Aires.

We are still up in the air as to where we are spending the night, but hopefully it will all come together tomorrow. We will try and get up early tomorrow to take a quick jaunt into Paraguay via the bus. Fingers crossed!!