IGUAZA WOW

 Posted by Delia Downes at 1:57 pm  Argentina
Jul 252014
 

Well I opted to go on another group trip as it is long and far away and I would rather travel with some people I know than go alone.  Able Spanish, the language school I attended arranges for trips for some of their students and even though I only studied there a short time they have included me in the offer.  The July trip is to the Cataratas as known in Argentina or Iguazu Falls as known in Brazil.  It is one of the 7 wonders of the world.  (I need to get a list of these wonders as I believe they alter or add to the list every now and then.  Or that every country claims to have some.)  Anyway, the trip is 22 hours by bus

Delia on the KMB buss

 Again not as horrible as it sounds because the buses are quite luxurious, equipped with large, reclining seats, blankets, movies, snacks and bathroom facilities.  I traveled with 6 other girls, really girls, about 40 years younger than I, from the school, 2 from Germany, 2 from Holland, 1 from Scotland and 1 from Switzerland.  Along the way however we picked up a lot of other folks from the surrounding area and I am happy to report that I made some new Argentine friends, a few I hope to see again before I leave

Mariel a new friend

Our first stop on the excursions was to an ancient mission site where the Jesuits settled with the native people.  I am told there were only two priests among thousands of natives.  I was also told that the Jesuits were able to accomplish this because the surrounding tribes in Brazil and Paraguay were more aggressive and threatening to these people and the Jesuits offered a modicum of protection, in building a fortress like mission.  Anyway, we got to this site at about 6 a.m. as the sun was beginning to rise and a thunder and lightning storm was brewing.  It really made for a uniquely beautiful experience among the ruins.  We had breakfast in the small town and walked around a little before the rain began.

The next stop was the Minas Wanda.  This was a mine tour of an area where semi-precious stones are mined from rock formation called geodes.  Our guide was great and explained that there had been an underground volcano pushing magma from the earth’s center, which on the surface is then lava, which when cooled is basalt.  Within the lava gas bubbles formed and then cooled into a hollow rock formation with different gases inside that eventually formed into different types of colorful crystals.  The most famous of which is the amethyst.  When the miners find such a formation they first drill a small hole to examine the interior and determine its value.  There is often water still captured within this enclosure.  Once the value is determined, it is their objective to remove the most valuable bubbles fully intact.  This can take up to 5 days depending on the size and shape of the bubble.  Incredibly, there were some miners working while we toured.  I can tell you this type of tour would never be allowed in the US due to several factors, the interruption of work, the dust, and noise hazard, not to mention the overall risk of people traipsing through an operating mine.  It was great.  By the time we got to the associated gift shop however, the lightning storm had gotten so bad that the lights went out and we were all fumbling around in the dark.  Not good for sales, I can tell you that.

We got to the hotel on the Brazilian side of the border later in the afternoon and had showers, dinner and a show.  A really hokey show.  I remember seeing a similar show when visiting Cambodia.  It could have been the same place except for the culture change.  A big room with long skinny tables lots of chairs and a stage with tacky decorations of a native jungle habitat.  The show consisted primarily of carnival like costumed people and scantily clad women, gyrating to a Brazilian beat.  It could have even been great, but many of the costumes were dirty and in shabby condition.  For example one young women wearing fishnet stockings but still showing most of her butt had a wide run extending the full length of her upper leg.  Still the performers were so enthusiastic it was hard not to enjoy it despite the shortcomings.  The best part about the show was when they selected people from the audience to participate.  Our table was up front and of course had a nice selection of young foreign girls to choose from.  One time Martina from Switzerland was chosen and asked to lay on the floor while acrobatic dancers jumped over her, and at one point a rose was placed in her mouth and a guy suspended on his arms only, hovered above her, removing it with his teeth.  Christina from Germany was then selected to be used in a musical percussive demonstration using her body.  Both girls were very cooperative and good natured and it made for a lot of fun.

Martina

Christina

Day two is when the real adventure started.  Our first excursion into the park was on the Macao Safari.  After a short ride through the jungle on an electric tram we walked for a while to the river.  There we boarded a boat that would take us up river under the falls.  WOW, I’ll say it again, WOW.  That’s a lot of water.  These falls are enormous.  They count 275 including the minor falls and about 30 major falls which stretch 1.7 miles between Brazil and Argentina.  Further up on the river there is a point where 3 frontiers meet, Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay.  It is simply awe inspiring to watch this volume of water, gush endlessly over these falls, and know that they have been doing so for millennium and will continue on for more.  How is it possible? I thought in my first moments, viewing this phenomenon, about the futility of our trying to exist anywhere but in the present moment, our lives like the water here are moving in a continuous flow, unstoppable, powerful, beautiful and somewhat terrifying.  You know it is water you’re seeing but it‘s not like looking at a river, or the ocean. Even while they are moving you can get a sense of the process, you can witness the same water in its transformation, contained but changing.  Here it is just passing, with thunderous intensity, so much speed, so much power.

falls brazil at sunset

 

We rode very close to one of the falls taking a few passes as we all shrieked with the spray and the thrill of the experience. Returning shivering but not caring cause our senses had been shocked.   It was great, and definitely worth the 22 hour bus ride.  We were able to change to dry clothes and hike around some more before returning to the hotel.  Day 3 we would hike the Argentine side.

Argentina actually contains most of the falls, the view however is more panoramic from the Brazilian side, so I was not expecting to be thoroughly awed again, but I was wrong.  While we were not in the water on a boat the walk along the falls was magnificent, and we were able to get as close, with many long distance views.  The only thing I would have preferred was solitude but there are thousands

of visitors to this park every day and I am grateful that I have been able to see this in person.

The Guarani native legend about the falls is that a young warrior fell in love with a young women with whom one of the forest gods was enamored and so made jealous by this affair.  When the young couple attempted to escape down river the jealous god dropped the bottom out of it, creating the falls, the young women turned to stone beneath the raging waters and the young warrior remain onlooking as a tree from the banks.  Tragic story, beautiful place.

Later we visited a bird sanctuary with many of the jungle birds found round the world.  I love birds.  So many of them still preserve that prehistoric look, and the colors are incredible.  It must just be so much fun living in a colorful body like that, and be able to fly.

Nonetheless, I always feel sorry for creatures that are caged and even though this habitat was well intended they are all still contained.  I did have one personal encounter, however, that may have been an expression of discontent.

          THE BITER                                                                                                                                                                                                            While watching the parrots fly overhead, swooping here and there I suddenly felt a sharp pain and looked down to see this one large bird pecking at my sandaled foot and toes and drawing blood.  Ouch!  Really Ouch! I’m just glad it wasn’t a Toucan.  You’ve seen those beaks.  Anyway another souvenir for me.

 

   

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