Friday, December 21, 2012

No end of the world in Foz do Iguaçu!

Well, dear readers, it would seem the world hasn't ended after all, much like we knew it wouldn't after having visited all the Mayan ruins in central America.   We've spent the last two days in Foz do Iguaçu, the town on the Brazilian side of the beautiful Iguaçu/Iguazu/Iguassu Falls that border Brasil, Argentina, and Paraguay.  The place is HOT with a subtropical climate, meaning VERY humid (yes, the caps are necessary!).  Yesterday, we crossed to the Argentinian side (yay, more passport stamps!  That's 8 stamps from Argentina for those of you counting at home, 6 from Chile, 4 from Honduras, and just 2 from everywhere else, except only 1 from Nicaragua and El Salvador which has zero... not to mention several commemorative stamps), where you get a very upclose look at the waterfalls.  We started by taking the train up to La Garganta del Diabo, the Devil's Throat, which is a large horseshoe shaped collection of incredible waterfalls with about an 80 meter drop.  They have built some impressive bridges so you can walk over the river to see the falls. This is normally where I would put in some pictures, however, Matt decided to shoot in RAW format, so they are too big to upload from the ipad!  If we are able to find a locutorio, we will try to upload them from there. We then hiked the upper and lower circuits, which were more bridges that allowed us to see several falls from the bottom and top, respecitvely.  It was quite hot and we worked up quite a sweat, so the spray from the falls felt nice!  We had wanted to take a ferry over to San Martin Island for some more hikes and up close views, but unfortunately, the island was closed yesterday for an unknown reason.  We decided instead to do the allegedly challenging Macuco Trail to see another falls.  We walked about 3 kilometers and saw a lot of great wild life on the way, including coatis (racoon like animals with long snouts), capuchin monkeys, tiger ants (they are about an inch long and emit a sort of smelly acid), and some very large lizards, that may have been tigus or monitors, we are not sure.  So after walking about 45 minutes on a relatively flat trail, we got to the spot where you shiuld descend to see the falls, however, the bridge had been washed out and the trail was closed!  We were so bummed and had to walk the whole way back without having been refreshed from the water.  We then walked back to the visitor center and checked out the small museum before heading back.  All in all, I reckon we walked about 12 kilometers, about 7.5 miles.  We were quite lucky with the weather, because it started thundering as we exited the park, but the rain didn't hit until we were already in the van.  It rained off and on all night, cooling the air to a much more pleasant temperature. This morning, we headed to the Parque das Aves, the Bird Park, where we saw an incredible number of beautiful and exotic birds.  There were several walk-through aviaries where there was nothing between us and some very large-beaked toucans, pheasants, cassows (not sure on the spelling), macaws, and other birds.  They was also a butterfly and humming bird walk-through and a reptile portion of the zoo; they don't let you into the Anaconda pool though, I wonder why?  We also a Carrowary, a bird I am pretty sure is the direct descendant of the Velociraptor; it's like a raptor and an ostrich had a baby that mated with the baby of a hen and a peacock.  (Definitely need to post a picture of that one!). We ended by getting to have a Macaw perch on our arms for a photo. Around noon we headed to the Brazilian side of the falls, where you can really see the entire set of falls at once.  It's truly breath-taking!  We then followed a path to a bridge which takes you right out into the falls near the Devil's throat - water protecttion necessary!  There is a strong wind from the falls and the water that gets pushed up gets everyone wet!  Just as we were finished walking along the path, which is much shkrter than the Argentinian side, it began to rain again, so we caught the bus back to the entrance of the park and then another bus back into town.   Tomorrow, we catch a bus to Rio de Janeiro, a 22 hour trip, and arrive there on Sunday.  We've rented an apartment in Copacabana which we'll share with my brother, Jeremy and our friend/his girlfriend Justine, who arrive a few days later.  Rio will be our last city in South America, and it is so hard to believe our trip is nearly at an end!  

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