It was almost to be expected after the sensory overload yesterday, that sleep would be fitful last night. I got up early to go and enjoy the Falls again – hopefully alone, with no tourists. The park officially opens at 8am, which seems ridiculous given the heat and humidity hereabouts. It was a very special experience walking around Iguassu Falls alone, even finding my way around a ranger’s vehicle. Gentle rain turned to a downpour, when a ranger caught up with me, and berated me strongly for being in the park early. I asked what time the park opened – he said 8, and showed me his watch which read 7.57am! We were both sopping wet, but I thought better of asking him whether the Park Service supplied raincoats. I got a bit anxious when he started talking to others on his radio in Spanish, anticipating the worst. Anyway, the rain saved me, and he told me to go and wait at the jungle train station.
A bit of adrenaline is a great drug, and free – the early morning experience was extraordinary. We were fortunate enough yesterday to find a taxi driver who spoke Spanish, Portuguese, English and Guarani, having grown up in Iguazu and lived here all his 60 years. We immediately negotiated for him to pick us up at 10am this morning, take us into Iguazu town, over the border into Brazil, wait whilst we viewed the Brazilian Falls, let us see the bird park and deposit us at our Brazil accommodation in the afternoon. As we all know, to find all-day work and earn some US$ is a bonus. It has been an awesome day.
We looked over these mighty rivers where 3 countries : Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay meet, marvelling at the early settlers who came 1700 km upriver from Buenos Aires. Karen has spent so much of her adult life where 4 countries meet, in the Caprivi Strip on Impalila Island. We believe the only place in the world with that honour. Paraguay, which is landlocked, still relies heavily on the river to move its produce with the current, down to the ports of Buenos Aires and Montevideo. Readers may find it hard to believe that most folks don’t lock their cars here, and crime appears a non-issue. Crossing the border was quick and easy, we never even got out of the car on the Argentinian side.
In Brazil, one is transported to the Falls by bus from the visitor centre. The Cataratas Hotel, built in Portuguese style is stunning, overlooking the Falls, resplendent in pink, not unlike the Mount Nelson in our Mother City. As impressive and stunning as the Falls are in Argentina, one cannot view the Devil’s Throat from that quarter. Water cascades off a narrow U-shaped gorge. Water levels are high enough to create so much spray, that photography is well nigh impossible, but incredible to see. Being Sunday, there are thousands of visitors, in various states of undress, as we all get soaked.
In 2011, Iguassu Falls were declared one of the natural wonders of the world. We cannot help wondering what took so long?! Having had the privilege of seeing both sides of this natural wonder, it seems superfluous to add that this is recommended most strongly. Photographs and words are rendered woefully inadequate attempting in any way to do this jewel justice. Having wanted to visit Iguassu for years, it was dear Karen who put this outing together. What an experience it has been, utter magic. We then went to the bird park, started would you believe by a Zimbabwean, Dennis Croucamp. We walked amongst all sorts of South American birds, and even viewed the mighty Harpy Eagle up close.
Some anacondas and boa constrictors gave Karen the shivers – quickly forgotten when a guide was kind enough to collect her some Macaw feathers. Loving birds as we do, it was the perfect end to a day where superlatives fail. This experience has exceeded our high expectations exponentially. Tomorrow we fly to populous São Paulo, for a night before flying home, completely mesmerized by this awesome trip together.
As anticipated, Karen still dreams of walking amongst penguins and seals, so the final chapter of this story has not yet been written….