Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Iquazu Falls

We had to get up at 6:00 in order to make our flight to Sao Paulo. The taxi was on time and took us to the airport. It was an 8 hour flight and no one was looking forward to it. We didn't know what to expect since we were flying TAM.

We arrived in Sao Paulo around 9:00 Brazilian time. Our flight to Iguazu didn't leave until 11:00 and we didn't arrive until 1:30.

Our guide picked us up at the airport and took us to the hotel. It was hot and we couldn't figure out how to work the air conditioner. We had to go back down to the front desk and explain. The bellman didn't speak English.

The next morning, Marcos (our guide) was picking us up to go to the falls. Here is the view from our room.

Before going to the falls, we needed money. So, Marcos took us into town to use the ATM. I noticed right away that there were VW bugs everywhere, even vans.

We used the ATM and got money. This would prove to be a thorn in our side during the trip. The exchange rate however was awesome. I got out $600 reais and they took about $249.00 out of my account.

Fucking McDonald's in every city.

Marcos took us to the national park where the falls are located. There was a huge line waiting to get tickets. He told us to go have a seat and he would get our tickets. Things were looking up! We noticed people were also waiting in line to get on a bus to go into the park. Marcos looked at us and said "Don't worry, I'm taking you in my car." We looked at each other and grinned. This was incredible. Did we pay for this?

Marcos handed us our tickets and took us to the front of the line where we passed everyone and waited on the curb for him to pull his car up.

There were beautiful butterflies everywhere.
These coatimundis were everywhere. They were not scared of us either. They kind of looked like a cross between an anteater and a raccoon.

Marcos took care of our tickets for us and we got ready to go on the safari part of the trip that took us to the boat ride in to the falls.

Somehow we scored the front seat. We were heading in to the rainforest.

Here is a picture of Marcos. He was awesome.

The rainforest was very thick and we were on the lookout for Jaguars.
We came upon a clearing and had to walk down to a boat dock.

We watched another boat take off as we put on life jackets. I could see some anxiety in Weenie's face.
I had lost my waterproof jacket in the Miami airport so I didn't have any waterproof clothing on at all. I mean, how wet were we going to get anyway? Mooey and Weenie had on their waterproof jackets and pants. Thanks.

Then we were off at break neck speed.
We had to go fast because of the approaching rapids. The river was running so fast. I looked over at Weenie and she was holding her hat. She didn't care for the rapids. Mooey and I had our hands in the air.
All of the sudden I looked to my left and there were the falls. Absolutely stunning.

Then, we were off to the falls. Check out the video. The action doesn't really start until about 2:30 into it so you may want to fast forward. Enjoy. You'll also notice what a great cinematographer I am. My stupid finger is in the picture the entire time. I was so afraid the camera would fly into the river I had a death grip on it.

Here is a picture of Weenie and Mooey after the boat ride. See how dry they are? There isn't a picture of me but every stitch of my clothing is soaked. It's just like I jumped in a swimming pool. Great.
After the boat ride, Marcos drove us to the mile trail that walks along the falls. This picture shows the Argentina side of the falls.
The views were incredible.

There were lizards along the path. This one is about to eat an insect I've never seen before.

Every turn we took offered a different view of the falls. There are 270 different falls that make this up and it spans about 2 kilometers.

This picture was taken at the beginning of the falls on an observation deck. I was kind of scared with all that water rushing beneath my feet.
Looking over the rail all the way down.

To get a real sense of the the enormity of the falls, I stood right next to it and shot a quick video. I think it's like 10000 gallons a second or something like that.

Afterwards, we got a bite to eat and Weenie and I walked over to sit on a bench. As we rounded the bench, this giant lizard was standing there. He was about 3 feet long.

We loaded up in Marcos's car (me still soaking wet) and headed to the bird zoo.

At first all the birds were in cages and it was making me sad.
Then we went through a gate and this toucan flew down and landed right next to me. It scared the shit out of me.

The rest of the tour the birds just flew wherever they wanted to.

Weenie tried to get this one to get on her hand but he ignored her completely.

This peacock was unbelievable.

Then we went in to a final area. I meant to take a picture of the sign outside the door. It said "Enter at your own risk. These birds may bite." As soon as the three of us went inside and shut the door, about 50 giant birds swooped down towards us. We all three ducked down and they flew on. Holy shit, that scared me to death. The birds did it on purpose. I took a few shots but couldn't get out of there fast enough.

Marcos took us back to the hotel around 4:00. It had already been a full day but he had arranged for us to attend a Churrascaria (BBQ) that night with a show. It sounded great!

We arrived early and the buffet was giant. There was a big area where all kinds of meat were being prepared. I looked over the other stuff and made me a salad. The rest of it didn't really appeal to me.

I got sausage, some kind of ribs, chicken and sirloin. As you can see and as I came to find out, most Brazilian food is cooked to death. The meat was pretty tasty though. Mooey did have a few slices of meat on her plate that were medium rare. I tasted it and it was really, really bad.

Then the show started promptly at 9:00. There was music from various countries and dancing.

Here's what I thought of the show.

We left before it was over and went to the hotel bar for caipirinhas. One of about 100 I had on the trip.

The next morning Marcos came and scooped us up and took up to the airport. We were headed to Rio baby!

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