|Whoa, that's a lot of water. And it's not even in full flow!
But first, the steak... I think when I last wrote we were about to go out for a steak dinner in Buenos Aries. Well, as it turns out, that dinner was a whole lot better than the lunch we had earlier on. It seems that at lunch they serve more rib type cuts (cut the odd way like Maui Ribs you buy at the Safeway), but at dinner time, the steaks really are superb. The meat is actually cut fresh right in front of you out of much larger sides of beef. It's not for the faint of heart in terms of vegetarianism. Kristine used to say to me that she was alright with beef, just not cow. Sort of like being all right with the atoms but not the molecules. Well, if you have a steak in this country, you'd better be prepared to have a look at it before they cook it. And when it comes, it's great. Although, I would have to say, that it is not any better than anything we have at home - it's just equally as good.
Anyway, after that nice dinner we spent our last night in BA, and then we were off to the domestic airport for our flight up to Iguazzu. Although it started well, things deteriorated when we got to the airport when we found that our scheduled departure had been revised weeks before, but they forgot to send us the E-mail. So, we had an additional 2 hour wait. Then, the system that controls the air traffic around the airport went down, and everything went into chaos. No aircraft had a gate, and none could land or take off. Eventually, they got things working manually (the old way), and we were finally on our way another 2 hours later. So the afternoon lazing around the pool in Iguazzu evaporated on us pretty quickly.
The flight was really interesting though. As you leave Buenos Aries, you begin making your way up the great river delta that separates Argentina and Uruguay. The outlet of the river is a heavy chocolate with the high levels of silt it carries from the centre of the continent. This river system, after the Amazon, is one of the most important in South America. As you travel north, the fields eventually give way to areas of jungle that have been heavily deforested until you get right to Iguazzu, where you see the line that separates the National Park from the rest of the land. Here, everything changes to the lushest of greens, and you catch a quick glimpse of the falls as the aircraft touches down after a steep banking turn. The weather was a bit choppy, so we landed right under the edge of a black cloud.
The hostel here is great. It's like a resort. They have a great pool, BBQ's, a restaurant, great transportation set up, and on and on. We had a great room with aircon, which, surprisingly, is not that necessary in spite of the fact that we are on the edge of the Amazon. Today, we went to see the fabled falls. At first, I was disappointed because the park was set up a bit like Disneyland with a little train to take you from site to site and perfectly manicured lawns, paths, and catwalks. However, all of that faded pretty quickly when we started to see the falls.
Iguazzu really isn't a waterfall; it's more like a waterway. And unlike Victoria Falls in Africa, where the falls drop in a line into a single crack in the earth, Iguazzu is an endless series of variously sized drops covering an entire region. The river broadens gently around a bend and the entire affair then cascades over a massive semi circular area into the chasm below. Divided into many sections, the falls take an entire day to see (yup, a whole day). Because they are so broad, in some areas the depth of the river right before the fall is very slight. This gives the illusion of slowness, as though the water does not want to go over as it reaches its inevitable end. Somehow, it seems more viscous as it clings to the dangling vegetation that it nearly takes down with it. Like icing on a cake, it makes it's way slowly down to the plate below. Because there are so many strands, the area looks like a giant piano, with bands of black where the rock is, and bands of white where there is water - a perfect symphony of ebony and ivory.
It is a sight that even the most seasoned of waterfall aficionados will find awe inspiring. We opted to just walk all over the park even though there were some expensive boat tours available. The views are so great (and you get soaked by the spray anyway) that you really don't need to get on a boat. There is a free launch to one of the islands that we did take which was fun enough. From there, we waved at the Brazilians only several metres away across the main river. In many ways, these falls are a little like Niagara at home. There is a semi circular portion called the Devil's Chair, and just like at home, the falls are shared by two countries, one having a far more spectacular set. Here, it is Argentina that has all the glory, while the Brazilians own the cheap seats. Poor old Paraguay is lust a little too far down stream to share in the party (although they do have the world's largest hydro electric project about 50 km from here - we didn't see that). Suffices to say, the falls are indeed spectacular, and worth coming to see, even though they are a little out of the way.
After our day getting soaked, we decided to go get soaked in the pool after our long day! So, we grabbed our free drinks from the bar (they gave us 2 sets of welcome drinks because we were so damn nice), and we headed for the pool. It was a little bit embarrassing when Kristine started swimming back towards her drink and yelled over to me "Look Ted, it's doggy style"! I think she might have meant "Dog Paddle", but who's keeping score anyway? Sometimes I just close my eyes and shake my head...