After meeting my maker at the religious theme park I moved on, heading north to Iguacu Falls. I knew I wanted to visit this magnificent natural phenomenon before even set off on my travels. Higher than Niagra, the reports were all the same. The falls promised to be breathtaking. And they were.
There are two sides to see – in Argentina and in Brazil, a short border crossing and thirty minute bus between the two. Everyone who had ever been to the falls, both sides, and even those who hadn’t, had the same view: the Argentinian side was better. This was true. From the two sister fall right through to the culmination of awe – the Devil’s throat, the spectacular of the falls did actually take my breath and words away. Not something that happens often…ever?
My pictures do not do justice to the sights and my words can’t explain the feeling of sitting in a boat as I was taken under the falls. The best I can equate it to is having all of your lifetime showers in one go.
By the time I got to the biggest of the falls, the Devil’s throat, after a train ride through the jungle and a trek across swinging bridges that threatened to collapse, I thought I was prepared for what I was about to see. Except I wasn’t. Spanning across the two sides of the falls was a stunning rainbow. It was so close I felt like I could have touched it…if I were brave enough to lean on the railing that was the only thing keeping humans separated from certain death. Pleased as punched at having been blessed with this amazing site I went back to my hostel to declare how special my viewing had been. There was a rainbow. Yeah…that’s always there, came the response. Oh. A bit deflated, I wish my fellow travellers had kept that info to themselves, but it was not enough to detract from such an amazing day. The guidebooks say that the positive ions given off by the continually cascading water is enough to bring a crazy bout of happiness that will send you grinning from ear to ear. Having visited, I can believe this is true.
[Sorry…one second, just need to deal with a middle aged, drunk, long haired, smelly hippy who has interrupted my writing for the third time too many. Touching my shoulders is a step too far…ok, some curt words exchanged. I’m back. He comes near me again, he’ll become acquainted with Polly, the pock pen knife I’m packing…I’ll…pluck his eyebrows.]
In hindsight I wish I had done the Brazilian side of the falls first because when I finally made my final border crossing in South America and stopped at my first destination – the Brazilian side of the falls, I was somewhat blaze. Thus the curse of the travelled. Increasingly I have found myself being a bit of a travel snob. Why would I want to go to see a mummified body in South America when I’ve been to the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. A city museum. Is it as good as the Louvre? No. Count me out. Inca Ruins – I only do Macchu Picchu. I’m not the only one. Other travellers say the same, but it is important to keep yourself in check. That said, when I turned up to the Brazilian waterfalls, I couldn’t help go with my instinct. Flick a quick up and down glance at the inferior view (inferior: really it is still a mammoth set of waterfalls), admit (like everybody else) that the Argentinian side is better, and move on. Shame on me.But the truth is the truth.
That night at the hostel, preparing to move on within Brazil – Pantanal next – things took an interesting turn that would shape the rest of my travels in Brazil, enhancing my experience in a wonderful way. First, I met a girl from Sao Paulo. Ten years younger than me (aren’t most of my fellow travellers), recently graduated and up for fun. After too many tequilas we got talking about my trip. From the Pantanal I planned to go to Sao Paulo, head out to Paraty on the Rio coast before my final South American destination – Rio de Janeiro. A few more tequilas and a plan had formed. We would meet in Sao Paulo, spend a night seeing the city before heading out on a road trip to Paraty, staying at my new friend’s parent’s and aunty’s house on the way. It sounded perfect, and it turned out it would be.
Meanwhile, my new Sao Paulo friend got chatting to an Aussie boy who was quickly encouraged from his coca-cola onto tequila. A guy we would later bump into in Paraty along with his two other friends, and who I would party until dawn with in Rio.
My plan for the Brazilian leg of my trip was to be a quiet come down from the previous three and a half months. A time to rejuvenate before the next leg of my trip. Central America. My intention for Rio was low key. It was dangerous and I was planning a quick get in –see the sights – get out strategy. As I headed off to Pantanal, I had no idea at the fun that was ahead.