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Trip Report Las Cataratas del Iguazú

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Monday dawned with sun and clouds playing hide and seek. Well, maybe it’s going to be a good day to fly, we thought. One thing we have not been doing is watching much TV. Oh, sometimes, we’ll turn it on for fun but have not been able to find my favorite, The Weather Channel which is especially important when travelling. By the time we had our bags downstairs, there was the proverbial torrential downpour happening. Luckily, it served to clean the air and wash the streets and no problems with air traffic. I like Aeroparque, just as I do the local airport near my home in Ohio: small and convenient. We had arrived just before the masses and dodged that bullet of waiting in a very long line. While my travel companion, Shirley, (she gave me permission to use her name) had a coffee, I watched the wind whip up Rio Plata to a medium roar. The waves on the river reminded me of the first time that I saw waves on Lake Erie, amazed. LAN had a ontime departure!
We both had forward, window seats (port) just in case the flight path took us over the Falls. Didn’t happen but still great to watch the landscape change. Were greeted by heavy and hot weather and immediatedly started shedding our “travel jackets”. A driver picked us up and deposited us at the St. George Hotel, in town, and just across from the bus terminal before 11:00 am. Luckily we were able to get into a room. There is construction (a new wing) going on and initially we were put in the new section. But the room was next to the stairs, which have no carpeting, and we were concerned about noise. Moved to the old section of the hotel on a higher level that afforded us a distant view of the skyscrapers of Paraguay to the northeast. Just fine.
I had a Brasilian visa from a trip to Rio last year but Shirley did not. So, I set out alone to visit the Brasilian side of the Falls while she went sunbathing at the pool. Found the bus to the Brasilian Cataratas leaving from the terminal across the street $60 ARS round trip. Just for comparison, the taxis were charging $200 ARS round trip. Ended up meeting and hanging with a young woman (20 yrs old) who was doing a semester of work abroad (from Bath, England) with Coca Cola in Córdoba. Now, mind you this is early afternoon, 12:30 pm, and the old saying about “Mad dogs and Englishmen.....sun” comes to mind. Had a wide brimmed hat, sunglasses, sunblock, insect repellent (deet), camera and water. If I didn’t present as a “screaming tourist” then I don’t know what would, but, everybody was a tourist! The Falls are certainly spectacular however they are viewd but I had expectations that were unrealistic. I was anticipating “knock me over”, which didn’t happen from the Brasilian side. The return bus to Puerto Iguazú departed about 5:00 pm so we had an hour and a half to take a look around the Bird Park. That turned out to be a disappointment as there were lots of Macaws (all in relatively small cages) but no Toucans in sight. Juliette remarked that “it seemed like a prison”. Best part of the afternoon was getting to know a young college girl of French Canadian extraction who had lived in London and Paris for most of her young life.
Monday night was to be the highlight of the Falls, Paseo de la Luna Llena, Full Moon Walk. Mother Nature had other intentions and the tour was cancelled; however, not before we bought tickets from the woman at Rio Uruguay transportation and made the 30 minute trip out to a dark park. We were not the only ones who had not been informed in a timely manner by the park. My main gripe was that the woman from the bus company did not call the park on our behalf to ensure that, indeed, the weather was poor there, too. For someone on a very tight budget, it would have been a major bummer. We tried to view it as helping the local ecomony. The reservations for the Full Moon Walk are a slippery slope due to the fact that it is advertised that if the walk is cancelled then you can be put on a wait list for the following evening. In reality, it would be nearly impossible to accommodate 120 people on the following night. Those that were contacted first would get the advantage. Of course, the following night, the moon was brilliant. It was not in the cards for us. Oh well, that’s the way the cookie crumbles.
Our last day in country took us on a full day excursion to the Argentinian side of the Falls. It was everything that I had hoped it would be. Words do it no justice, mesmerizing, perhaps, similar to my experience with the Moai on Rapa Nui (Easter Island) at the beginning of the trip. Wonderful to be bookended like this. Small world occurence, too, when riding the train out to Devil’s Throat, we ran into a couple from Barcelona whom we had met a week earlier in Puerto Varas, Chile. I believe that there are about 5,000 visitors to the Falls everyday and wouldn’t you know, I happened to run into Juliette again. It’s interesting and beautiful the comaraderie that develops among fellow travelers.
Wednesday was our marathon trip home. Left in the morning about 9:30 am and arrived back in Ohio (where I presently live) about 24 hours later connecting through Buenos Aires and Atlanta, GA. Still riding the crest of a great vacation. Certainly, everything didn’t go as planned but what does? I have been very fortunate, indeed, especially with all of the advice that I have found on this Forum. I hope, in some small way, I have contributed to the information pool that assists travelers. Happy Trails!!!

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