Monday, 25 October 2004

The Big Water


Wow! Wow! Wow!

I can´t find any other word to describe the last two days. Part of the border between Brazil and Argentina is the river Iguassu (Iguaçu in Portuguese, Iguazú in Spanish). The word means Big Water in the indigenous Guarani language. Not because the river itself is wide but because, just before flowing into the river Paraná, it drops 82 metres to produce one of the biggest waterfalls in the world. Or rather waterfalls because the drop is in a loop of the river which means that the water falls over a very wide area thus creating no less than 275 individual falls, the biggest one of them being called Gargata del Diablo, Throat of the Devil.

Yesterday, I was on the Brazillian side of the falls. Because the Brazillian side is the inside of the loop formed by the river, it is smaller and takes only an hour or so to visit. It is still very, very impressive, especially when you get to the last part in the middle of the Florianopolis fall, next to the Garganta do Diabo. So I had the time to do a boat trip and get close to the action. On top of all this, it was raining so it ended up being very wet. It didn't prevent me from taking pictures and my camera did very considering how wet it got. I had to dry it out a few times. The icing on the cake was a helicopter tour to see the falls from above. In fact, it is the only way to really get an overall idea of the whole fall system because it is so huge. Incidentally, with the window open, it is also a very good way to dry up.

Today, I did the Argentinian side. It took the whole experience to yet another level. First, the Argentinian side being the outside of the loop, there is much more to see. You can also get much closer to the falls without having to resort to a boat. So I took my camera and did every single walking trail, getting wet yet again in the process. It was overcast but dry today though so it was easier to dry up. The whole tour took me about 5 hours. The best part was overlooking the Garganta del Diablo from a few metres away. Looking down, you understand why the native tribes would have thought this was the entrance to the devil's lair. The mist generated by the fall makes it look like a gigantic boiling cauldron. After that, I did the ecological thing: a boat tour on the upper part of the river, before the fall, where we managed to spot lots of birds and a couple of yacaré (a sort of small caiman). I didn't see any jaguar or snake but there are some in the park. I saw lots of butterflies though. I never thought butterflies could be a nuisance until I had several hundred of them flying around.

As a last impression of Brazil and a first impression of Argentina, I couldn't have chosen a better place to cross the border. I'll say it one more time: wow!

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