Saturday, July 19, 2014


Iguazu Falls.

Everything you've heard is true.

They are massive, magnificent, huge-normous, loud, wild, wet and fabulous. Devin and I went there our first day here in Foz do Iguazu. It was raining most of the day, but that was the day we went. And it was great. Hell, we're going to a waterfall, so if we get wet, that's cool. Ironically, that day was warmer than the next two have been, so even though it's sunny today, it would have been a much colder experience.

We took the local bus for R$6 (that's about $3USD, roughly half price! :). And then you pay for the park (R$50). We added on the zodiac ride to the base of the falls too (R$170).  Ahh Brazil, the local costs for food and buses are very good. The cost for tours is not so cheap. (More on that in a different email).

The Waterfall trail walks along the ridge overlooking the falls. We saw the first view, and it's pretty far away, and we thought "Well, that's big and cool".  We walked along the trail, and views of another set of falls appears. Closer, louder. Nice! This is great. We kept walking and there was ANOTHER set of falls, the Devil's throat, the big curve of falls you've probably seen in pictures. And here you could go out on boardwalks over the water itself. It was awesome. So much water. You can even walk right up next to the cascade and hear/feel the water blasting past you.

Now the thing about Iguazu, is the tiny part we walked out over, felt like it was enormous. And that is just a FRACTION of how big this thing is. It was awesome. Wonderful and wow.

We grabbed some lunch... and the sun came out.

So we ran back to the boardwalk area and took the killer pics of the day. Sun, clouds, rain, awesome. There was lightning and thunder too, but we didn't get any of those shots.

We then hopped the bus and headed to the Zodiac tour. Well, the last tour of the day is at 5:20pm, and we were the last tour. Just us. Of course, the sun is going down. The rain has returned. And it was a pretty wild boat ride. We even got hailed on as we blasted up the river towards the base of the falls. Thunder booming. Wind blasting past. Walls of water so thick you couldn't breath from all the water in the air. Awesome. We cheered and laughed. The guides were fabulous, they were having a blast too. I said "Let's do it again! " so we went back into the falls for more water soaking action.

Now, you don't get into the devil's throat, because it's too wild, but it was a blast.

And we were on the last bus back to the visitor's center, and then back to town. Soaked, but happy.

The thing about the park that is funny, is that half is on the Brazil side and half is on the Argentina side. And they have a pissing match about which side is better. Brazil has better views. Argentina you get closer. Brazil has more this. Argentina has more that. Is it worth going to both sides? Couldn't tell you, as it costs US Citizens an extra $160 USD to cross the border, and then you have to pay for the park. So we stuck with Brazil, and had a blast. (This also gives me something else to see if I ever make it back.) One of the big selling points of Aregentina is that you can walk out to the top off the Devil's throat on a boardwalk.... when it's there. 3 weeks ago, the water level was 30 times normal, the river was 30 meters deeper and the whole thing got washed away. As did Brazil's rafting and rappeling activities and a bunch of other stuff. One more thing that says... "Oh yeah Human's, I'm Mother Nature, and you are a guest in my house. Remember that."

Then you goto the Itaipu Dam, and see something else entirely.

The next day, we went for a "Special Tour" of the Dam. I'd never heard of it before I got here... It was only the largest dam in the world until 3 Gorges was finished in China. And Itaipu is still the biggest power producing dam in the world. It provides 75% of the power for Paraguay. And 17% of Brazil's. And Paraguay is selling 3/4 of it's power back to brazil. It's 8 km long. 600 plus feet tall, and has more concrete in it than a highway from from Moscow to Lisbon. It was built over 15 years, and frankly... is pretty awesome.

The tour takes you inside the dam, where you can see the 35 foot diamaeter pipes. Feel the water shaking the ground. Watch the turbines spin, which just one can powere 2.5 million homes. And the scale of the whole thing is inhuman (Just as Iguazu is). Everything looks like a hanger for giant robots or something. I really want to shoot a movie here.

Strangely there seems to be very little security or military presence. They never checked our ID to take the tour. There are no tanks or army garrison's or anything. It seems like a pretty important place to be so open. If this was the USA we'd have so much military might nearby to keep it safe. Well, even in Brazil, that's all an illusion. We were told that fighter jets could arrive in 4 SECONDS to shoot down anyone on approach. And that both Paraguay and Brazil have soldiers and more stationed right nearby. (The Dam is on the border and split evenly between the two countries. Technically I have been to PARAGUAY on this trip now. I walked in the country for at least 20 minutes. So... do I count that on my list? :)

Itaipu is the type of thing that says "Oh yeah Mother Nature, humans rule this planet, and can make you do what we want."

It is a fascinating contrast: One of the worlds largest waterfalls and a wonder of the world so close to one of the worlds largest hydro-electric dams and a wonder of human engineering.

Sounds a lot like other parts of Brazil as well.

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