Shaping the planet (by MAPG)

Trip Start Aug 11, 2009
Trip End Feb 19, 2010

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Flag of Brazil  , State of Parana,
Wednesday, September 9, 2009

After charging our batteries with modern lifestyle and art in Rio and Sao Paulo we continued heading west to discover 2 of Brazil's most wild spots: the 276 waterfalls at Foz de Iguacu and the Pantanal – a swamp more than half the size of Germany, home of ferocious beasts such as alligators, piranhas, snakes the length of Maybachs and Jaguars.

In Foz de Iguacu we came face to face with the Brazilian winter for the first time. We packed our flip-flops and shorts far away and put on the winter gear (especially the waterproof clothes).

Shortly after checking in the great Bambu hostel we went out visit the Brazilian side of the falls. I forgot to mention that the area is the joint point of 3 countries: Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay – borders with both only a few minutes by bus away. The access to the fall is made through 2 national parks: the Brazilian one, known for its panoramic views on the falls, and an Argentinean one, where the falls can be literally touched. Both sides rely on a great infrastructure, making even European countries envious. Now back to the Brazilian side. First there was the loud sound, proudly announcing the biggest falls in the world, and then came the water falls, stretching almost endlessly. We walked along the Brazilian side, just some hundred of meters away from the spectacle, watched it, stunned, and of course took pictures. One can get very close (and very wet!!!) to the falls on the Brazilian side. The course ends at the feet of the biggest and meanest fall – the Garganta del Diabolo or Devil’s Throat. A narrow bridge took us right in the middle of it.

Foz is not only known for its natural wonders, but also for its engineering wonder – the Itaipu dam. This 8 km monster jointly built by Brazil and Parguay, is the biggest dam measured in energy production in the world. It delivers 20% of the electricity consumed in Brazil (180 million people) and 90% of the consumption in Paraguay. Construction took 20 years and cost over 6 billion US$. Looking at it from every angle makes you feel the size of an ant. The whole area is wonderfully set up, offering research facilities and conserving nature.

There is also another aspect linking Brazil & Paraguay: most counterfeit clothes & electronics that reach Brazil come from Paraguay. The Paraguayan city Ciudad del Este is situated just at the border, and is a beautiful example. Its street merchants offer everything from cell phones, through fishing rods or ninja swords, to professional television tools – 100% fake of course. After a 2 hours walk through this ocean of articles everything looked the same. Ironically though, there is no border control, so Brazilians can just take the bus to Paraguay, do their "groceries", and don’t even bother to get off the bus when coming back. When crossing to Argentina though, passport control is required, like we found out when visiting the Argentinean side of the falls. The latter only strengthened the impression gained on the Brazilian side and is 100% worth visiting.
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