Brazil Part III: Foz do Iguaçu

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Flag of Brazil  , State of Parana,
Thursday, December 8, 2011

Following my 3 week stopover in Florianopolis, I headed further south to the border shared between Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay. Here you can find one of the 7 natural wonders of the world, Iguassu Falls.  A Canadian tourist once described the falls to me as "life changing", and “a bigger and better version of Niagara Falls”.  That combined with the fact that it broke up a 30 hour bus ride between Florianopolis and Buenos Aires was all I needed to be convinced into a stopover. 

I spent my first day walking around the town of Iguassu, which wasn't anything spectacular.  The main attractions in Iguassu is a zoo (closed until summer), city park (full of stray dogs and their poop), and loads of Rodizio joints (all you can eat Brazilian BBQ).  Needless to say, the latter was the most appealing to me.  I had been in Brazil for close to a month, and still hadn’t had a Rodizio experience ($$$).  When I saw an offer for 19 Reals ($12 US), I bit.  The meat was great, and kept coming every 2-3 minutes.  I left the restaurant disgustingly full. 

The next morning, I woke up on a mission to burn off some of the excess fat and calories I took in from the rodizio experience.  I started my run from my hostel in Brazil, running along a main street that was becoming more and more crowded with traffic.  Eventually, I found myself running across the border into Paraguay (It was only 5 or 6 kilometers, but I usually don’t mention this).  I was never stopped, questioned, or asked for my passport. 

Upon entering Paraguay, I was immediately harassed by peddlers.  In Brazil, electronics are ridiculously overpriced, so most Brazilians head to Paraguay in search of items such as cameras, I PODS and laptops.  I had left my digital camera in St. Louis, so I figured I would look around for a new one (it was also one of the first digitals made, so I was overdue for a new one).  I eventually bought a Cannon power shot for a bit less then retail price, and headed back to Brazil.  I had paid for the camera with my credit card (dumb move) and later found out that I was charged $250 US, as opposed to the $135 US I had signed for.  On top of using a credit card, I wasn’t given a copy of the receipt I signed, so I couldn’t dispute it with my credit card company.  Shit…well, at least I have a camera now.

The next day, I headed to the falls with my overpriced, knock-off digital camera.  Entrance into the national park was very expensive, so I planned to pay once and spend a full day exploring the Argentinean side of the falls (I was told that the Argentinean side was the most scenic).  Upon entering, I forked over more money to take a jeep ride through the jungle, eventually ending up at the Iguassu River, where I would take a speed boat tour of the falls.  The jeep ride was nothing special, but the boat tour made the trip worthwhile.  The excursion finished at the falls, where we were brought directly under cascading water, getting drenched.  Eventually we were dropped off at a hiking trail, where we were given the remainder of the day to explore the upper part of the falls.  Years ago, park authorities built bridges into the falls, so I was able to literally walk over the peak of Iguassu falls.  There are hours of trails in the park, so you have to pick what you want to see. 

 For me, the highlight of Iguassu Falls, was a part called “The Devils Throat”.  An hour of walking through marsh and swamp land, eventually leads you to the great attraction, which can be heard from miles away.  “Devils Throat” truly looks like the edge of the world.  Mist from the falls limit visibility, so from the top it looks like the water falls forever.  I spent about an hour here before nature called and I had to make the hour trek back to the nearest bathroom.

From Iguassu Falls, I took a 14 hour bus ride to Buenos Aires, Argentina, ending my Brazilian adventure.  My month in Brazil had been a memorable one.  I spent a lot more money then I thought I would, but have no regrets in doing so.  I’m looking forward to seeing what Argentina has to offer.   
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