Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Down to Iguazu

The sky here is so blue it's a bit dazzling. Nearer the equator it's lighter, paling to white where the clouds touch it, up to a darker, rich blue directly above me. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

I left Rio on Tuesday morning, after an enjoyable final evening with a group of others in the common room at Discovery Hostel. Rio has two airports (at least), and while I arrived at Galeao International, I flew to Foz do Iguaçu from the smaller, and much closer, Santos Dumont. It was a really interesting flight, with a regional Brazilian airline (Azul). The plane was tiny, with two seats per side of the aisle and a low ceiling and gave a much more old-school feeling of flying. And then, when we had taken off, the stewardesses - who, I might add, were heart achingly attractive - would take your drinks order on a notepad, before delivering the drinks 6 or 7 at a time on a tray. Finally, snacks were delivered by a large wicker basket full of a selection being offered, and you just take the ones you'd like. Brilliant, EasyJet could learn a thing or two.

We arrived at our first stop after just over an hour, and stepped out into Sao Paolo in shock. In Rio, the clouds had rolled in and the temperature had plummeted. Sao Paolo by contrast was a humid 32 degrees and I felt my shoes melt a little. Half of the plane remained on board, as it was just swapping some passengers before heading onto Campo Grande, which was another new experience for me!

The scenery in Foz do Iguaçu reminds me of Malaysia or the Canary Islands. Old, dilapidated buses being driven by a maniac who laughs in the face of speed limits around hairpin bends with too many people on. Palm trees and low brick houses line the road, interrupted by scorched earth fields and the occasional commercial building. Mercifully the windows opened wide, and so thanks to our drivers interesting interpretation of when the brake pedal was required, we didn't completely roast within. Getting into the centre from the airport is very easy, so feel free to wave away any taxis (though on a side note, I've never found the touts or taxi drivers to be a problem at all) and walk down to the very poorly signed bus area. The 120 is the shuttle of choice around Iguacu, back and forth between the Falls themselves and the centre. Do note however that the airport is the middle stop, so make sure you get on a bus going the right way!

Last night, two other English people and I headed out to a Brazilian BBQ place, which I'm nominating for a wonder of the world. Fantastic idea, you pay a flat price for your buffet, and then a veritable army of waiters emerges every 45 seconds or so with skewers of sizzling BBQ meat. Say yay or nay to each as you desire, and stuff yourself with beef, chicken, sausages, more beef, pork and more beef until you can barely move. Wash down with a beer and stagger into the evening air only £7 poorer for it. Amazing. After that, we headed over to a bar two doors down, which is owned by the Manager of the Hostel and her wife, and enjoyed a mojito in the evening air. I also went a little crazy with taking pictures of people, like the bartender on the roof:




Headed off to the falls today. There are two sides, the Brazilian side apparently giving a better overall view, and the Argentinian side showing more detail. I visited the Brazilian side today, and my jaw truly dropped. At first, it seems a little anticlimatic, but once you move along the path, eventually more of the falls come into few, and they are truly incredible.



So, Paraguay tomorrow I think. I'm only planning on spending a day or two over there. I'd like to see the Itaipu Dam (second largest in the world) and the ecological reserves around it, but after that I think I'll be heading into Argentina. I have got a serious craving for a big, juicy, Argentinian steak. Can't wait.

Thanks for reading!

Andy

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