20.11.2015 - 20.11.2015
Today was a full day on the Argentinean side of the Iguassu Falls. Joe picked me up already at 8.00am and then headed for the border control to Argentina. Even though it was only for about 8 hours, I had to bring my passport to get in to Argentina. Got my passport stamped and we drove further on towards Iguazú National Park. I think it is fun to get the passport stamped, a small proof you’ve actually been in a country. Sad we stopped doing that within EU. Argentina is a Spanish-speaking country which is why Iguazú spells with a z, and not with ç as in Brazil. As soon as we had crossed the border into Argentina we set the clock back 1 hour. Joe explained that Argentina and east Brazil has the same time zone, but east Brazil now apply summer time. As tourist it’s impossible to keep track of all that. And to complicate things even more, people living close to the Brazilian/Argentinean border have a language called Portuñol – a mix between Spanish and Portuguese. I would probably understand Portuñol better than just Portuguese, since I know more Spanish.
We drove about 20 minutes more before arriving at Iguazú National Park. As soon as the entrance opened up we went to the little train that took us the more than 3,5 km to Devil’s Throat, the trains end station. The speed of the train wasn’t very fast, but was faster than compared to walking the same distance. From the train station you could already hear the waterfalls muffled rushing and Joe pointed out where the walkway I had to take to the falls started. Well the walkway, it wasn’t that stable as I had wished for. The pillars looked good and reliable, but that metal net you stepped on felt anything but reliable. It wasn’t that thick and looking down you could see the strong current underneath. I tried to have an internal dialog; “Suck it up. Be cool.” It took about 20 minutes to walk those 1,2 km’s out to Devil’s Throat and the sound from the rushing water was deafening.
Tried to take panoramic pictures of the falls, but it looked more like my cell phone had gotten an epileptic seizure or something. All choppy and strange. Guess the camera couldn’t relate to any useful reference points to create a panoramic photo. Turned and walked the same way back to meet up with Joe at the train station again. I had to ask Joe how deep that water was, underneath that walkway. He told me it wasn’t deeper than 1 meter, but due to last 3 weeks of raining the current was really strong and the water was all brown from all sediments that come with the water. With normal water levels the water is turquoise and current is not as strong.
We took the train and disembarked at the Upper and Lower Circuit, two trails bringing the visitors close up with the waterfalls. The Upper Circuit was easy and manageable without any huge affords thanks to a level trail and easily becomes full of elderly people and families with strollers. You had great views over the falls. Though it took one hour to walk back and forth. For the fit person you could walk the Lower Circuit which contains steps, uphills and downhills. That probably took 2 hours for Joe and I to complete that trail, and then both he and I were well fit. You can definitely not be scared of getting soaked, since the trail will bring you very close to the falls and with high water levels the mist blew far in over us visitors.
The boat tour under the falls was schedule at 11.15am, or well… at least up to the falls. Due to the high water levels we couldn’t embark the boat at the usual place, but further down the Iguassu River. We rode a jeep along a bumpy and rough road to get there. Equipped with a life jacket and waterproof bag each, we embarked the boat. Did put on the rain poncho (underneath the life jacket) and flip-flop, because we would get wet. I wrapped myself in like a cocoon to minimize the risk of getting completely soaked with water. Then you just had to hold on. Full speed with sharp turns that meant cascades of water spraying in over the boat. Though the air was warm, the water was freezing. Or well, it was probably not freezing but the difference between the air and the water made I felt like it. The boat stopped just in front of the falls for those who wanted to take some pictures sitting in the bow. I had already taken pictures of the waterfalls from every known angle, so I skipped that. The last turn the boat made was to get as close to the falls as possible. I don’t know how close the boat eventually got, but it felt like very close. Because we weren’t hit by drizzle but more like a massive monsoon rain. When back at the floating pier and you finally got off your life jacket and rain poncho I realized I escaped pretty well from being soaked or wet. All in all it took about 2 hours, even though it didn’t felt so. What took time was the jeep transportations to and from the boat (20 minutes one-way), the boat ride itself felt like 10 minutes. When I met up with Joe again he looked at me like “You’re not soaked. Did you even embark the boat?” But I explained I had wrapped myself like a cocoon and only got my lower legs wet.
Now I was starving and stood in line to buy something to eat. But bear in mind two things; 1: They have Argentinean Pesos (AR$) in Argentina, 2: They only accepted VISA credit cards in the entire park. And I had neither Argentinean currency nor VISA credit card, so I just had to accept it. I told Joe I would buy something later at the hotel, it was easier that way. After a long and warm day we drove back crossing the border into Brazil again. Crossed the bridge over Iguassu River, where the borders of Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina meet. Had I been smart enough I could have paid Paraguay a visit too…
This morning I had asked Joe if he could drive me to the airport so I could search for my bag, because my patience was over now. It would probably be easier on site, with passport and everything, to get the bag on a plane here to Foz do Iguaçu. And since we would pass close to the airport on the way back he was kind enough and dropped me off the airport and waited outside. Found TAM Airlines and tried to make myself understood. Got sent around to one after another before ending up with Deborah, that was responsible for lost baggage. I don’t know if she either understood me, her English wasn’t that great. Eventually I got to speak with flight attendants from TAM. Finally someone able to speak English. It took him five minutes to call to Manaus, locate my bag and put it on the next flight via Brasilia and then on today’s last flight to Foz do Iguaçu (arriving just before midnight). With careful optimism a smile spread across my face, thanked the man for the help and went out to the car and let Joe drive me back to the hotel.
Those of you who knows me, know I’m a realistic pessimist and believes in things when I’ve seen it, i.e. in this case holding my bag in my hand. So it wasn’t over by a long shot. Back at the hotel I notified the reception staff they could call my room as soon as the bag arrived, didn’t matter if it was in the middle of the night. The staff was probably dead tired of my frantic nagging about my bag by now.