On our way to Argentina - via South America's monstrous falls
Rogerio helped us cancel our bus tickets to our next destination because flying seemed just much better than a 24hour bus ride. We had a long lay-over at the airport of Rio de Janeiro after we arrived in the middle of the night. We found spots that were somewhat comfortable to lay down on, in fact I was able to sleep quite well for a few hours. Soon we were allowed to board a plane to Foz de Iguazu and were on our way. There is constant debate whether the Brazilian or the Argentine said of the falls is more impressive, but since we had time, we figured we'd see them both and then come up with our own opinion. We soon landed in what was our first small regional Airport that barely had a terminal building. This was the first of many others to come. The bus took us all the way to town and we checked in to the hostel we had made reservations for. In the evening hours we walked through the city looking for a place to dine and found a Lonely Planet recommended restaurant with good food. It was one of those all you can eat restaurants and they would constantly come to a table with offerings of different meats from the barbecue. This dinner was truly a preview of what we would experience once we made it to Argentina.
From the Foz de Iguazu to the Cataratas de Iguazu
These extraordinary falls border both Brazil and Argentina, and there is constant discussion as to which side is more worthwhile to visit. We decided, that since we had the time, we would see both sides and come up with our own opinion. The air was heavy with humidity and the foliage had turned dense and green.
One enters the park via bus and as you make you way to the first view point, the sound of the immense movement is already audible in the distance. And then you see them for the first time. And you keep walking and they don't stop. The panorama is so expansive, I wondered if the camera can even capture it. It is quite a spectacle. And the sound was just as incredible - you actually heard the sound before you saw the falls. The scope of your eyes was almost not big enough to take in the sight of the falls, that just seemed to go on forever.
On a little side note, the other impressive thing we saw were some pictures of the most damaging floods the falls had ever seen. We heard that the visit to the Argetine side would be more interactive, with opportunities to feel in the falls as opposed to just watching them from afar. We would see them the next day.
About an hour or two later we exited the park and decided to go check out the bird park next door, that Rogerio's dad had recommended. In there were so many local birds from tucans to parrots. Alex was the one who dared to go into the crazy parrots encasement. The birds in there, according to the warning, can get very aggressive attacking anyone inside. Alexandra got lucky as she wasn't attacked except for a few very close flybys. The visitors who entered the area after her were not so lucky and soon had parrots on their hats and shoulders, grabbing at camera cases and other loose articles. On a sadder note we saw some flamingos that had large mirrors put up so that they would be fooled into believing that they were actually a larger group than they were. Supposedly flamingos feel most secure and comfortable in a large flock - it was sad that they needed to be deceived.
Soon after, we arrived back at our hostel, checked out and made our way to Argentina. The bus dropped us off at the Brazilian border office and we got in line. After a bit of a wait, we got our exit stamps and then we had to wait for the next bus to come and take us across the bridge to Argentina. However, we had to wait about 30 minutes for the bus to arrive. Interestingly, in hindsight, this would become the longest time we've ever had to wait for a bus during our entire trip. Once on the bus we were crossing over to Argentina in what was our very first land based border crossing. The city on the Argentina side is called Port de Iguazu and we checked into our hostel, after we had acquired our tickets from here to Buenos Aires. Our hostel, a bit off the beaten path had super decor - our bed was covered with a plush blanket with the image of a huge tiger on it. It would come in very handy later as the temperture was really quite cold. Later that day we walked through that town and had a fantastic meal (with fine Argentina wine) at a local steakhouse. After dinner we played a little Black Jack at a local casino.