No Internet for a few days, so one big post about the weekend. Pop the kettle on, grab a cushion, we might be here for a while.
Friday morning, Posadas bus terminal. Window seat, headphones on, guide book out, and an empty seat next to me. ¡Qué bueno! The bus started filling up, and a young woman who kinda looked like dark-haired, Latina version of Chloe Sevigny asked if the seat was free. That’s what I assumed she asked anyway; I half removed my headphones and told her “yes.” She had, though, it seems, asked if the seat was occupied and she began to look for another seat. I searched for the Spanish words, but they wouldn’t come, so I just said, “no, no, no; it’s free.” I put my headphones back on, cracked open the book, and settled back down. She sat down and sat there with her bag on her lap for a couple of minutes, then said something.
I’m amazed sometimes that people can be so free and open and friendly. I wish I had it in me to do that sort of thing. I wouldn’t really make too much effort to talk to the person next to me if they were sat there without headphones on, let alone with them, but that’s what she did. She asked if I was going to Iguazú, and that was it, we got chatting. With the aid of my little English/Spanish dictionary, Yamila and I managed to muddle through all sorts of topics. I’m not sure how it came up, but at some point I had to try and explain what “cunt” meant. I sheepishly pointed to “vagina” in the dictionary. After a couple of hours, she got off the bus at a small town called Puerto Rico where her father ran a disco where she worked at weekends to help pay for her psychology studies. We hugged goodbye as she got her bag and I had a quick smoke at the station, and I returned to my seat to soon find myself sat next to an old battleaxe with insistent elbows.
With nowhere to stay in Puerto Iguazú, I spoke to a tour operator at the bus station. He told me about a few tours they do, then recommended a hotel that was super cheap. That’ll do, thanks. The whole time he never looked at me once. His gaze was always off somewhere else in the room. Quite unnerving.
The hotel room I was given had three single beds in it. I stayed in Puerto Iguazú for three nights. Can you guess what I did? Yep, I slept in a different one each night. For some reason, it gave me a stupendous amount of silly pleasure to do this.
One of the tours that Diverted Gaze Guy had mentioned was one where you go to Paraguay in the morning and see the Brazilian side of Iguazú Falls in the afternoon. Because it set off from the Argentina side, it was touted as “three countries in one day.” Once I’d checked in, I asked the guy at the hotel to make a reservation for me to go the next day. “Sí, no problem.” Splendid. I went out, got a steak, a few beers, and had an early night.
Saturday morning, I was up early, ready for the 8.00am tour start. Except, err, it didn’t happen. After standing and waiting in the hotel car park for twenty minutes, I told the guy in the reception that his colleague last night had booked me on the tour. He made a couple of phone calls and it turns out he hadn’t done it. Thanks, dude. Not a big hassle, really, I just had to switch my days around and go to the see the waterfalls from the Argentinian side instead.
It costs AR$40 to get in if you’re a foreigner. They give you money to go if you’re from Argentina. Not really; that was one of my slightly bitter jokes. I know I should just shrug it off that Argentinians, Paraguayans and Brazilians pay less than half, but I can’t. Anyway, the map showed many many places to walk and view the waterfalls from. And, rather systematically, I went through all of them. Nicely done, they were, too. There’s no good viewing angle that they missed with the series of walkways.
Just so you can see the wacky poses properly, here’s a bigger version of what was in the bottom right corner of the last photo:
I went on a speedboat that takes you whizzing around all fast and stuff. You get pretty close to a couple of the waterfalls, too; so, unsurprisingly, one gets rather wet.
After having a good walk around looking, I then got on the little train that takes you right around to the the bit of Iguazú called the Devil’s Throat. You will notice that there’s a woman in disguise on the train, too.
Once the train stops, there’s a good old walk across this footbridge which crosses the big flat top bit of the river before it goes tumbling down. (Notice my stunning knowledge of the correct terms.) It will never fail to amuse me at how a decent-sized proportion of human beings have no idea how to behave in public. The signs say “keep right” in Spanish and English. Do people keep right? You know the answer to that, don’t you? I’m sorry to generalise about this, Argentina, but this is something I’ve noticed a lot here: old women do not give a shit about holding up a queue of people. Yes, I appreciate that you’re not as nimble as you once were, but if you actually look behind you and notice that there’s quite a build-up of people who have slowed down because you are walking three abreast, it’s not a sign that we think you are all queens, and that we are loyal, loving procession behind you. It’s a sign that you might wanna move aside for a moment or two.
Be that as it may, the couple in this photo are walking on the right, and the guy seemed to enjoy that he’d be in my photo; he gave me a thumbs-up as he passed me. Not that you can see it in the photo, you’ll just have to take my word for it.
It was really magic up there looking down over the edge of the Devil’s Throat. Thunderously loud, with spray blowing all over the place. Fantastic.
This guy was a tit. As you can probably tell from his combination of silver satin and camouflage shorts.
But let’s not dwell on him, just look at how cool this waterfall is.
On the way back out to the car park to get the bus back to town, there was a little group of (what I’m assuming were) Guaraní people b
usking. This little clip is kinda like the music I listened to the other day at San Ignacio Miní. There’s something very lovely about it, I think, not least that the guy playing the guitar isn’t playing any chords with his left hand. That rules. What doesn’t rule, I’m afraid, is the fact that my little movie also recorded some brat whining to his parents in the background.
Brilliant: that’s what it was. Just a really great day. Sunday was ace, too. I got myself on the “three countries” tour, and after forcing down the hotel’s dismal coffee, I was in a minibus with a couple of Italian chaps (Massimo and Andrea), and a couple of Brits (Simon and Cleo), and we were on our way to Paraguay. We get our passports stamped as we leave Argentina. A couple of minutes later, we get entry stamps in Brazil, then we cross over into Paraguay, and, err, just drive straight in.
First stop was some museum which wasn’t very good. Then we went to see Itaipu dam, which, could I be bothered to root through my backpack and find the little booklet thingy, I could tell you was X amount of times bigger than every other dam you’ve ever seen. It was built by Paraguay and Brazil, the video told us, and was a shining example of two countries working together. “Shall we build a dam, Brazil?” “Yeh, alright then, Paraguay.”
It was pretty damn (wahey!) impressive. The tour itself was a bit cruddy, though. We got out the bus once to have a look at it from one side, then just kinda whizzed around the rest of it in the bus.
It makes a massive proportion of Paraguay’s electricity, and a shed-load of southern Brazil’s too. Here’s proof:
And here’s the reservoir formed by the dam.
After the dam, we went across the road to the little zoo. Quite a pathetic zoo, really, but, y’know, a fine place to take some melancholy pictures of animals.
Here’s some turtles or terrapins dry-humping.
Oh, how fortunate I was that the blue parrot was next to the blue metal thingy.
This toucan was ace. Very inquisitive.
In the background here, you can see two bunnies. If you look in the bottom left corner, you’ll see a big big big snake. Can you guess what he’ll be having for lunch?
(Sorry, I’m not writing very well today. But at least there’s a bunch of pictures to distract you, right?)
Next stop, Ciudad del Este. A town right on the border inside Paraguay, famous (in my life, anyway) for being the place where a scene was filmed in the Miami Vice film, which – I know you’ll disagree – I think is quite good. Mainly, though, because I find it tough to dislike anything related to the TV series. Mainly, it’s a place to buy cheap stuff. Between us we bought some jeans, an iPod, and a memory stick for lots less than they cost in the real world.
These were the kids who the tour driver paid to look after the minibus. I like how the lad on the left is trying to get out of the way of my photo, oblivious to the fact that I was actually trying to take a photo of him and his chums.
We left Paraguay, and went to an all-you-can-eat buffet thingy in Foz do Iguaçu, the town on the Brazilian side. As did these nuns.
The last stop of the day was at Cataratas do Iguaçu, the Brazilian side of the waterfalls. Not as much fun as yesterday, but there was a nicer, more panoramic view. And one good bit where you can get up close to some falls. First, though, a picture of the lovely logo they have.
Here’s a photo of Simon…
…doing what I am doing here. Note how ecstatic I am.
All around the cafe areas on both side of the falls there are lots of these creatures (above). Not sure what they are called. Not sure what that thing on the table is either. Wahey! Thank you, I’ll be here all week at the Chuckle Palace.
Back at the hotel, I had dinner with Massimo and Andrea, then we went to a casino. First time I’ve ever been in one. Not sure that I’ve ever seen so many CCTV camera in one place in my life. I played some roulette. First go, number 11: get in! I won! Started off with 20 pesos worth of chips; got as high as 35; ended up with 20 pesos and 75 centavos. I won! I beat the system! Seventy five centavos! Woo hoo!
A bit drunk, I fell into bed. This is how I spent my day in the three countries in the form of a pie chart.
on Monday morning, I packed my bag, and bid farewell to Argentina.
I’m back in Brazil. Back in Curitiba, in fact. I spent ten hours on a bus getting here, and very very little of interest occurred. After this mammoth post, I’m sure you’ll be feeling quite relieved about that, though.