St Patrick's Day, Waterfalls and Border Crossings
16 Mar 2012
So we've made the first big bus journey, albeit exhausted!! We decide to take the local bus to our hostel, it cannot be that hard?! Well, did I tell you that the buses all have turnstiles that you have to navigate before you head through them? With extra heavy backpacks and daypacks on, this is near on impossible!! We are then told to get off the bus and change for another bus - oh great, the dreaded turnstiles again!!
We make it to the hostel, it's actually really cool and has a swimming pool - time to top up on those tans (or lack of!) maybe!! Luckily we bump into Jarleth (Jar)) and Rachel and decide that it would be disrespectful not to go for St Patrick's day drinks, especially with Jar being Irish and all. We head to the only Irish bar to be told that it doesn't open until 10pm. So we decide to find a little bar to while away the time. We find one but the guy has an issue with chairs!! He decides that Craig and Rachel need their chairs doubling up - slightly insulting don't ya think!! After two very large bottles of beer each, we decide to head on to the Irish bar - urm, I don't think we are going to get in - everyone was dressed up to the nines (we were all in flip flops and beachwear), we are also told it costs around £10 to get in - erm, out of budget.
We decide to go to the Argentinian side of the falls as we've heard it's much better. We head over by bus due to our backpacker budget with Jar and Rachel. We were told we had to get the bus to the border crossing, get our passport stamped out of Brazil, take another bus to the Argentinian border, get our passport stamped in and then take the bus to the Falls. Sounds simple yeah?? Well it's not!! The bus on the Brazil side does not wait for you to get your passport stamped out so you then have to wait another 20-30 mins for a bus, luckily the Argentinians are a little more forgiving and wait for you at the other side, but then your dumped on the side of a dirt road and told to wait for another bus to the Falls. What seemed like hours later, the bus turned up and off we bumped to the falls.
We were told we could pay in Brazilian Reals on arrival. However we were swiftly told this was not possible, even though we saw other people doing so and was told to proceed to the ATM to fetch pesos. However, the ATM is inside the park!!??!? They allowed Rachel through (thank you Rachel, if it weren't for you, we would not of made it in!) and after another 30 mins we were all into the park.
They had these cute little possum type animals, there were signs indicating that you should not feed them as it makes them ill but the amount of people we saw doing so were unreal!! This promptly provided the quote of the day "Creature touchers"
Off we set on our trek of the falls, up and down, up and down. You may have read that I have a fear of heights, well all of the platforms you walk across are see through!! Yes, see through grates!!
We see the boats below on one of the platforms, we decide we should go on one. We are told it lasts an hour so we decide it is well worth it. On with the life jacket and onto the boat we go! Amazing!! We got took in and out of the waterfalls and got absolutely soaked, we were happily laughing our heads off but then our bus turned around and headed down river - we thought we would come back, but no, we are heading for a boat station - 20 minutes!!! We complain and are told that the rest of the 40 minutes is a jeep safari - sorry I don't recall this being mentioned before!? Off we trudge to the jeep - well, what a guide we had. "Okay everybody, around 5 minutes ago was a tree that did XX, around 10 minutes ago we passed the entrance to the bird park"..
Then off we pop to the Devil's throat waterfall - the grand finale! Boy, it was worth around 8 see through river platforms to get to it - I think I only had one wobbly moment! Breathtaking and emotional all at once and so far, definitely the highlight of my trip.
Well we're back at the border crossing, we're thinking we all know what to expect - well how wrong were we!! We passed through the Argentinian side with a few minor delays (hey, what's an hour wait in South America - doing well) and now we're dumped at the Brazilian side to fill our entry cards in (we're all thinking why are the other foreigners not getting off at this point?!). The bus driver says the next bus will be along in 20 minutes - LIAR!! I think it was around 3 hours later when the bus came, it was dark and there were mosquitoes everywhere (they are not my friends!). We had all lost the buzz of the falls and swiftly decided to get off at a bar and scoff pizza - no way was I having pasta and tomato sauce after that. The one highlight was the crazy shirt guy that we met, he had a nylon shirt that had around 150 images on it, this had me in a fit of giggles for around 5 minutes and Jar thoroughly enjoyed the cars driving past with their music pumping out full blast through their windows, it was loud it interrupted everyone's conversations.
The four of us had decided to go to the point where the river meets three countries on one place. We ask the hostel owner how to go about this, after all it doesn't look that far away!? He tells us it is to dangerous to go to the Brazil side and that it would be best for us to all go via the Argentinian side - we all look at each other and a cry of "no chance" is heard - phew!!
Craig and I then decide to make our way to the Pantanal early and check-out after a lazy day around the pool. How I wish I'd stayed by that pool an extra day!