Two consecutive night buses via Montevideo and Concordia eventually saw me from the languid sands of Cabo Polonio to Misiones Province on the North Eastern frontier of Argentina. I had a day to kill in Concordia along the way which was surprisingly pleasant. In the most part spent sipping coffee and munching medialunas with the towns pensioners around the pretty town square. Watching the Concordians go about their business. I think I will take well to being a pensioner.
The falls here mark a three way border with Paraguay to the West, Brazil to the East and Argentina to the south. It’s fair to say that along with the region of Patagonia and Buenos Aires, Iguazú attracts the most tourists in Argentina and it took me a good hour or so hauling my rucksack around before I found an average place for the night that wasn’t booked up. I walked in, saw the pool and with beds available, handed my pesos over. Never mind the fact it had been absolutely pissing it down for the last three days (requirements for a pool?) the bed sheets smelled like the boxers in my rucksack that I hadn’t washed for a week, and there was something about the proprietor that screamed Jack Nicholson in the snow. It’s good to be brought back down to earth every now and then, preferably not with an axe though.
The weather had settled into continuos rain for the foreseeable future, the importance of which was emphatically blown away by the unstoppable might of one of the world’s largest stretches of failing water. The amount of water failing onto the viewing platform alone was impressive, spray rising high on air currents, created from the impact of millions of tonnes of water hitting solid rock metres below.
With the neoprene of my purple converse now in wet suit mode and maintaining a constant warm layer of rainwater circulating around my toes, I was feeling positive. The immense forces of water smashing against rock all around me was energising and neither my ridiculous yellow poncho or my erroneous choice of footwear was going to subdue the feeling.
As I squelched my way back through the forest I was lucky enough to catch a family of Capuchins sniffing around and a pair of Coatis drawn towards the promise of food from human activity.
Being so close to Brazil I thought it rude not to pop in for two reasons; one to observe the falls from a distance and secondly I hoped it was the path of least resistance getting into Paraguay. My Spanish must be improving because the contrast of being confronted with Portuguese and not being able describe my arse from my elbow was a little jarring. It took me a while to adapt and realise of course Spanish could be understood here, even if the response I got was, for me, completely indecipherable. This all made for increasingly one way conversations, despite this I found an guy from the UK to hit the falls with.
The Brazilian side is arguably even more overwhelming. While proximity is substituted, seeing the falls in all their panoramic glory is astounding, it’s scale hard to grasp when considering the quantities of water that are unleashed onto the basalt rocks below every second. The roar echoing it’s way across the valley alone is enough to make a lasting impression. My excitement at seeing Coatis on the Argentinian side was tempered somewhat by seeing the sheer endemiscm on the Brazilian side, reminiscent of the tenacious macaques in Asia. Beware ye who enters into the realm of macaques with even the faintest trace of food on your person.
After enjoying a hearty Argentinian empanada we popped into the nearby bird sanctuary which exceeded all expectations. Highlights included a regal looking Harpy Eagle(!) getting close to enigmatic toucans. And entering into an enclosure where the magnificent parakeets (which are huge by the way) seemed intent on swooping down from great distances, and getting as close as physically possible to their human visitors without completely nailing them to the walls of the enclosure.
Thoroughly worth the jaunt up to this, for me at least, out of the way corner of South America. All topped off with a large night out that resulted in missing my bus across the border and into Paraguay, tomorrow’s another day.
Nirvana – In bloom