Brasil & Argentina sides
05.03.2007 - 08.03.2007 43 °C
From Bonito we took a 15-hour drive to Iguassu - yes, 15 hours!! Quite gruelling, but this then gave us an extra day at the falls on the Brazilian border and the chance to pop over to Paraguay for duty free shopping.
Iguassu was absolutely melting - 43 degrees!!!! the camping site was quite bad. Full of overland trucks (Kumuka, Oasis, Budget, Tucan Travels, you name it), a swimming pool full of young Westeners drinking beer in the very murky water, loud music and, just to make it the ultimate nightmare, only 2 toilets for all of us!
While the camping site was quite crap, the falls were really impressive. Before we entering the park we took an helicopter ride over them. First time in a helicopter for both, I must say very nice!! We ended up in the helicopter with someone who was scared of flying and kept stretching her arms around to hold on tight, perfectly in the path of my camera!!! Arghh! I would have killed her, but refrained victoriously!! Anyways, the falls were great. Too hot still - steady on 42 degrees, but the place stunning. Full of butterflies everywhere, and water and the sound of the falling water...
The day after we crossed over to Argentina, where the waterfall area is much larger. The park is also much bigger and better organised, they have a small 'green jungle train' which takes you all the way to the top of the falls, where you have a really close view of the Garganta del Diablo gorge from the top (from the Brasilian side we could see them from kind of below, though it was more panoramic). We bought a green pass, which meant we had a boat ride at the top on a dinghy - where we saw an awesome caiman in the water covered in orange butterflies - needless to say we all thought it was a rock until the boat guide pointed it out to us - and then the 'great nautical adventure' which consisted in sitting in a VERY POWERFUL motor dinghy and then drive almost under one of the falls, getting absolutely soaked - I mean, completely soaked. It was like being at the rides and really good fun. From the motor boat we were then transferred onto a huge tourist jeep for a jungle 'safari' with nothing to see, if it wasn't that a family of capuchinas monkeys decided to show up above us and keep us company for a few very enjoyable minutes. Some of the monkeys had babies on their backs, really sweet.
So Iguassu was impressive. Between the 2 countries I popped over to Paraguay to look for a new laptop battery, while Gregory went to visit the world's largest dam Itaipu. Popping to Paraguay means walking over this long bridge where you can enter without having passports checked. As soon as you reach the other side it is full of electronic shops. I went in the first one and showed our old battery (which is meant to be fairly difficult to find, given the age of the laptop) so the guy started phoning around till they found it. I had to wait in the shop for an hour while they went to collect it, in the meantime 2 of our fellow travellers turned up in the shop too. Finally the battery turned up and our friends decided to buy a camera, and here the story of the weirdest money transaction started. They guy took us to another shop where they could charge the cards (a shop friend of theirs). He starts taking my friends' card and none of them are accepted. So I offer them to pay for them with mine. Mine is accepted, but they need to do this over the telephone and record the transaction with one of those manual machines that carbon copy the card number. The amount of course is in Paraguayan currency, and I have no idea of the exchange rate. So I end up signing the receipt for 24.xxx.xxx of their currency - that is 24 something million something - but then by then it was too late to withdraw. In all this, they have taken my passport as a guarantee for the Visa card, not noticing that I have signed for a card that is not in my name!!! I was in fact using Gregory's card, so in practice could not really use it myself or sign for it. That gave me the confidence to go ahead with the risky business as Gregory could easily report the card stolen and get the money back in case of major trouble. Anyways, after the whole thing was concluded, I went into another shop and asked how much the amount corresponded to in $, and the amount seemed to be about $100 more than I had agreed with the guy!! So I walked back into the shop and told him what I had found out and the guy trying to give me weird explanations, anyways end of the story is that he probably overcharged me (still need to check online) but, since the battery fits and works fine and we really needed it, we will let this go and let them get away with it - though I might email him a little message if I decide to spare the time.
Anyways! Here are some pics
The Iguassu falls
Caiman with butterflies
The butterflies truly loved Gregory, this one stayed for 5 minutes...