July 13, 2010 GMT
Iguazu Falls

I had wanted to visit the falls at Iguazu since I’d lived in St Martin and heard stories of how amazing the spectacle was to behold from travellers I had met there. It was sure to be one of the highlights of the trip.
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The "Carnival Show" at the hostel in Iguazu

We had been warned that the town, on the Argentinean side at least, was nothing more than a tourist trap, designed to hold people overnight who were going to or coming from the falls, and the warnings were right. It was not an ugly town, but it was evident that it s sole purpose was to supply the visitors to the falls with accommodation, coffee, grub, souvenirs and tour opportunities.
There was no lack of restaurants and eateries, but we struggled to find something decent that would not kill our budget. We avoided the hoards of Israeli’s that had taken over the hostel we had chosen, and after we had eaten we headed straight to the dorm and to bed.
We left for the falls bright and early, and arrived at the park just after the gates opened. As we had been directed by previous visitors to the falls, we took the train out to the first walkway that led directly over the main waterfalls, named the “Devil’s Throat”, the largest of the 270 odd falls in the series. I had been slightly jaded by our travels, and it was becoming increasingly difficult to be blown away, or even surprised by many of the sights we visited, but Iguazu did not disappoint.
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The breathtaking "Devil's Throat" falls, with the Brazilain Tower in the distance.

The view was breathtaking, and the roar of the water rushing over the edge of the falls and into the deep canyon below was awesome. We stopped to take it all in, then we took the obligatory photos, and then we looked again. It was too much to comprehend. The power and force of nature, once again reducing us as nothing more than fragile human beings, temporarily residing on Mother Earth.
We spent the rest of the day walking around in the searing heat, occasionally getting a good soaking from the falls, spotting Tucans in the trees, and exploring the falls.
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We came across the boat dock and deemed it a good idea and another one of those once-in-a-lifetime experiences that we would regret not doing, so we packed our stuff up in one of the waterproof bags handed to us by the boat operators and climbed aboard.
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The boat manoeuvred itself so that it was directly in front of a gushing fall, we all stood up to take photos, and then were directed to take our seats. Once all the passengers had complied, the skipper motored the boat right into the stream of water. We were all instantly soaked by the force of the water crashing down all around us, and blinded to everything but the white water curtain that surrounded us. The boat eased back out from under the water, circled in front of the waterfalls and then returned us to the dock. A short and expensive excursion it certainly was, but worth every penny.
We changed into our drier clothes and climbed back up to the path, which we followed to the cafeteria.
We had seen pretty much all of the main attractions, and were suffering from the unforgiving heat beating down upon us, so after downing a bottle of overpriced Iguazu water, we made our way to the exit.
On the ride back into town, Jacquie, obviously affected in some way by the falls, decided it would be a good idea for her to flash me her boobs in the mirror. I burst out laughing just as she lifted her jacket, a truck came over the brow of the hill towards us, I reckon she made someone’s day that day.

The following day, we took the bus from Puerto Iguazu to Cuidad del Este, a tax free zone on the triple border between Argentina, Paraguay and Brazil.
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A rare "treat", taking the bus to Cuidad Del Este

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The Bus driver, as most Paraguayans, was never far from his Matte Cup and matching Thermos

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Entering into Paraguay, a new world of Chaos and disorder

My iPod had recently passed away, and I was looking for a replacement. After the relative peace and tranquillity of Iguazu, Cuidad Del Este was a veritable bustling den of iniquity. Everywhere you looked, people were rushing about carrying black plastic bags willed with newly purchased electronics, men where wheeling Refrigerator laden trolleys into stores, locals peddled fresh fruit, empanadas and sandwiches, and motor taxis zoomed around piloted by maniac kamikaze riders. I searched a few shops until I was offered the model I wanted at the price I wanted, made my purchase, and got the hell out of dodge.
We took the bus back out over the bridge, through Brazil and into Argentina for one more night until we returned to Brazil to view the falls from the other side.
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Halfway along the "Freinship Bridge" the flag painted on the wall changes from the Argentine blue and white to the Brazilian Green and Gold

Our Brazilian experience was shorter, more expensive, but no less thrilling than the Argentine side. The people we had asked about which side to see the falls from had all agreed that in truth, one needed to see the falls from both the Brazilian and Argentine viewpoints. And they were right.
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The View of the Devil's Throat from Brasil

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Posted by Dan Shell at July 13, 2010 05:00 PM GMT
 


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