POMEs behaving badly
Trip Start Oct 20, 2009
159Trip End Jun 23, 2010
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Where I stayed
San Juan Hotel
Back at the San Rafael Hotel, Lou and Lynn were waiting for us, having just traveled through Argentina to stay with us at the falls in Brazil for a couple of days. It was great to see them again and compare injuries. Lou's bee sting between his fingers, which had made his hand and arm flare up to half way between his wrist and his elbow, was healed now, after a course of anti-histamine. He could not ride the bike during this time because he couldn’t grip the handlebars.
Lynn was still limping a little after having the bike fell on her left foot, and still had some pain, but she soldiered on, splinting the foot with a shoe insert and bandage when she was indoors. We shared food, stories and laughter and enjoyed the big rooms and surroundings of the quality San Rafael Hotel
Lou and Lynn decided to do some work on their bikes and photos while we went to the Fos do Iguazu – Argentine side. They had already been some days ago.
Val, once again kindly organized a car for us. As she was doing so, an English woman interrupted us and said "I want to go to the falls today, can you arrange it?." Taken a bit aback, Val suggested we go together and share the costs. We all agreed. The woman and her husband were half an hour late for the car, and then still wanted to go to the shop to buy water, as they thought water was going to be too expensive at the falls. Some people can just rub you the wrong way from the start.
We set off in Ana’s little 4 cylinder car with me cramped in the back with the English couple. The woman asked how I broke my arm and did I come from 'Down Under’. I asked where she came from and that was the extent of the conversation
At pick-up time they were 40 minutes late and Ana was not happy, and neither were we because we were sitting outside in the dripping humidity.
I asked Ana (in my best German, Ana only spoke Portuguese and German, another reason the car trip was so silent) if she could take us to the three frontiers, where Paraguay, Argentina and Brazil meet at the rivers Parana and Iguaçu, where you can see all three countries. Ana told me it would be 20 Reais per person. I asked the English couple if they would be willing to share the costs and the guy said “yes, sure”. I paid Ana for all of us, and we went. I never saw any money from the English couple and I hope I never see them again either.
The falls on the Argentine side were wider and the walkways straighter than the Brazilian side. However the Brazilian side was more agricultural and held more appeal for me. Once we arrived at the complex we were ferried to the falls by a long open train, narrow gauge track, limited to 5km per hour, and a squeezy 4 persons per seat requirement during the busy periods. At one stage I thought a sleepy lizard was going to overtake us. There was certainly not enough breeze to dislodge the butterfly that had decended onto my cast
How do I describe the falls with enough superlatives to create a picture for you?
The roar was phenomenal. The water was wild and white and the falls very tall, water crashed down onto black rocks and cascaded past bright green foliage, refusing to be washed away. As the water moved along and was not tumbling or active, it became brown as it swelled into huge rivers. The soil in this part of the world is as red as rust and everything grows in it.
The many walkways over the falls and rivers were easy to negotiate, with the odd funny English translated sign along the way. Like, ‘Do not overtake the balustrade’ Periodically, a walkway would spill out onto a viewing platform at the most spectacular scenes of the falls, where one could choose to get wet or not. Everybody did, as it was so hot and humid, especially the school children in their uniforms, who shouted and screamed, competing with each other to get to the wettest area. Every so now and then, instead of a fine mist blowing over the kids, a gust of wind blew water over them, they all shrieked with delight and lost their hats into the tumbling falls. One kiddy pointed to Des’s cap, there was no language, but the meaning was clear “hang onto your cap mister.”
There was even a flock of birds nesting under the falls, unconcerned about getting soaked
Did I mention the butterflies?
The place was thick with butterflies, every colour under the rainbow, varying sizes and patterns. The butterflies gladly came along with us on our walk and sometimes sat on our arms or caps for a kilometer or so. Their tiny bright yellow proboscis seemed to be licking at the salt on our skin. The butterflies were demanding as much attention as the falls, as people would wait patiently for the butterflies to spread their wings, just so they could get the perfect shot. Myself included. Quite often a rabble of butterflies would congregate around a muddy puddle and paddle their feet while sucking at the moisture and nutrients of the earth. It was captivating to watch.
We noticed many fair skinned people had welts on their legs from various insect bites, mosquitoes, sand flies and the like. The smarter travelers, we noticed, were applying insect repellent before they got off the busses. Of course we had our sun-block, but there was no sun. Doh!
There are swarms of insects, spiders, and bugs to keep the bird population fed. Lizards are also in numbers here, and we saw many of them crossing our paths. The jungle is well and truly alive.
We arrived back to the San Rafael Hotel to find we’d been bumped. Lou had negotiated a very good deal with the hotel management at a rate of 100 Reais per night, instead of 165 Reais, with the understanding that should another punter be prepared to pay the going rate, we’d have to move, and that’s what happened
Des brought all our gear across the two blocks as I used ‘the arm’ as an excuse not to lift anything, I was actually pretty worn out from the sweltering heat, and was just praying Des would not have a heart attack climbing up the steep street with all our gear.
The San Juan is an older hotel and not up to the standard of the SRH but comfortable enough. We walked back to the SRH for a magnificent buffet feast and sweet coffee, with Lou and Lynn. It was great camaraderie, and we solved quite a few of the world’s problems at the table.
Lou had spent the day with a mechanic, shortening his side stand on the Kawasaki 650 KLR. They took 30mm out so the bike would lean over more on the side stand.
I didn’t know mozzies could get so high. We were on the sixth floor at the San Juan Hotel and had to do a mozzie round up in the evening. Des says they come up in the lift. We flapped a towel about the place until we’d flushed them all into the open, and we didn’t settle down until they were all squashed. I don’t know the group noun for mozzies, maybe it’s an ambush because that’s what it sounds like when they come singing in my ear. We put insect repellent on when we go to bed, but by the wee small hours of the morning, it seems to have lost its effectiveness. There are no screens on the windows or doors of the hotels. When I’m too tired to get up to fix the problem, I put my face under the sheet and just sacrifice a thigh.