Day 24 -- Puerto Iguazu, Argentina
21 Jul 2007
|Day 24 -- Saturday, July 21 -- Argentina
This morning I crossed the border into Puerto Iguazú, Argentina. I started with a visit to the Argentine side of Iguassu Falls. It claims to be the largest waterfall on the planet. (To make this claim, they define size as length times height. It's wider than either Victoria Falls or Niagara Falls and its higher than Niagara Falls.)
To protect the fragile rain forest around the Falls, the entire area is a National Park with cars and buses excluded. To get to the Falls, you take a small train (similar to what you'd find at a large amusement park).
The good news is that most of the signs here are bilingual. The bad news is that the two languages are Spanish and Portuguese, neither of which can I speak.
According to my guidebook there are 275 individual waterfalls at Iguassu. I certainly couldn't count them all. (By comparison, Niagara Falls has three separate waterfalls: the American Falls, the Canadian (or Horseshoe) Falls and the lesser known Angel Falls between them. Victoria Falls has, perhaps, a few dozen separate waterfalls.
Here, at Iguassu, most of the falls are only a few inches deep. A very small number, perhaps 10 are about one foot deep. (Presumably it's deeper during the rainy season.)
I attempted to capture its grandeur in a photo but wasn't able to. What's impressive is the overall effect of seeing waterfalls in almost every direction. You can't capture that in a photo. But, this didn't stop the tourists from trying. It was amazing to me how many people were trying to capture it on their tiny cell phone cameras. Dumb tourists! Sigh.
After visiting the Falls, my driver took me for a quick tour of the town of Puerto Iguazú, Argentina. (For comparison, it's slightly larger than Melrose or Shrewsbury, Massachusetts.) I was assuming that being only a mile from the Brazilian city of Foz du Iguassu, it would be quite similar. Well, I was surprised to find it considerably shabbier.
Here, the streets were dirty with trash strewn everywhere. The overall effect was of a stereotyped Mexican town in the movies. Everything is covered with dust.
By contract, on the Brazilian side, the town is surprisingly clean. In front of the buildings are well kept lawns. By city standards there is essentially no trash visible anywhere.
In the evening, I went to visit the "Sound and Light Show" at Itaipu Dam, the world's largest hydroelectric plant (when measured in total megawatts produced).
I was underwhelmed. It turned out to be a short video about the importance of the dam, followed by turning on the flood lights.
Why hundreds of other tourists were there eludes me. Not surprisingly, when the floodlights came on most of the tourists attempted to take its picture using the tiny built-in flashes on their cameras. Sigh. What makes them think that their puny 1/8" flash bulb is going to have any effect on a structure bigger than some cities? Dumb tourists! Sigh.