Cedric in the South

A blog about my South American adventure

IV. Puerto Iguazú

Day 7
September 30, 2013
Bus to Iguazú
I've been on this bus for 16 hours. The whole trip is supposed to take 22 hours so there is still quite some time to go. It turns out that I didn't actually get the same tickets as Mark and Atish, so I'll have to meet them in Puerto Iguazú.
The bus I'm on is two floors. I'm sitting in a large, reclining seat in the second row on the second floor, looking out the front window at the road ahead. There aren't many passengers because most of them got off at Bariloche. A young man from Paraguay was sitting next to me earlier and I made a stab at conversation, but his accent was too hard to understand. My Spanish has been improving slowly. I can now have a very, very simple conversation. One of the tricks I picked up is to say the same thing a bunch of different ways so I have a better chance of being understood. I actually learned a few new words on this bus ride because they've been playing movies in English with Spanish subtitles.
They served a full dinner last night, complete with meat, cheese, lettuce, Jello and some other things I didn't recognize. It actually wasn't half bad. I wonder if they'll serve breakfast this morning. I really hope they do because I only brought crackers and chips for snacks. I'm definitely going to plan my food better next time I take a bus.
Front window of the bus — photo by Cedric McDougal
I'm starting to get really excited about the Falls. I'll finally get what I initially expected out of South America: a warm climate and lots of nature. Outside my window there's a heavy mist hanging over the trees. The sunrise is reflecting off the white fog and creating a brilliant glow. We're on a long, empty stretch of road that has been climbing up and diving down in a roller coaster of hills. It's crazy when I stop and think that I am on a bus in South America driving North into the wilderness.
I am going to stop writing now so I can fully take in this moment.
Day 7
September 30, 2013
Puerto Iguazú
I made it to the hostel and I cannot believe how hard it's raining right now. I'm currently sitting at a picnic table on the covered patio at Iguazú Falls Hostel, doing my best to stay dry as I help Mark cook dinner. There is so much rain that it is overflowing the gutters and pouring off the edge of the roof in a series of mini waterfalls. This has obviously happened before because there is a drain in the floor, but it is too small to handle the flood of water flowing down the wall. The person working at the front desk has to periodically come out with a mop to push the growing lake away from the door to the lobby. It feels like I have truly entered Tropical South America.
When we arrived earlier today, the weather was actually very nice. I stepped off the bus into a soothing, early morning sun. The temperature was pleasant and the air was fresh. After 22 hours cooped up, all I wanted was to stretch out and enjoy this warm weather, but Mark, Atish and I had a few things to do before we could relax.
As one might expect, the Puerto Iguazú bus station is full of tourist stands. We stopped at the first one with an English speaking guide and got a large stack of pamphlets and brochures with information about the Falls. We also got a map of the city. Puerto Iguazú revolves entirely around its main tourist attraction. It is comprised mostly of small hostels and over-priced shops, and it sits in a lonely corner of Argentina at the intersection of two large rivers. These rivers separate Argentina from Paraguay and Brazil.
The Triple Frontier (Argentina front, Brazil right, Paraguay left) — photo by Seyon (Wikipedia)
Earlier today, we visited the spot where the three countries meet. It's called the Triple Frontier. On the Argentinian side there is a small park at the top of a hill next to the river. From there you can see across to the other two countries. We spent some time wandering around the park, then, when we were about to leave, I spotted a small trail that cut into the woods. Feeling adventerous, I convinced Mark and Atish to follow me into the forest.
The trail almost immediately turned into a steep decline. We descended on all fours in a single file line, slipping here and there on loose rocks. Before long, we started to hear a noise fill the air, quiet, at first, then louder and louder as we climbed lower and lower. It became so loud that we could barely hear each other talk. Finally, we turned a corner and found the source of the noise.
We were standing on the precipice of a waterfall. I cautiously peered over the edge to see the water cascading down hundreds of feet. Mark tossed a pebble into the fast flowing stream and it was carried away like a piece of driftwood. There was no way we were crossing here.
But I was determined to push on, so I started making my way upstream, looking for a place to cross. Eventually, I found a fallen tree that created the perfect bridge. I scurried across and turned around to help Mark and Atish do the same. They made their way slowly. We had a few close calls, but after a couple minutes they both made it safely to the other side.
As we continued further, the path we were following became less and less of a path. Before long, we were simply trudging through the forest with nothing to follow but the stream. That's when we saw it: a tall, chainlink fence with a sign in Spanish that none of us were able to decipher. We slowly made our way along the fence, trying to be as quiet as possible. All of a sudden, a dog started barking furiously and we heard voices up the hill. We gave each other frightened glances, then turned around and started running back the way we came. It didn't take us long to make it to the waterfall, up the hill and on the road back to the hostel, out of breath and wondering what danger we had just avoided.
Almost immediately after we got back, the rain started, which brings me to right now. Dinner is ready, so I'm going to go eat. Tomorrow, we see the real waterfalls.

Next Chapter:

V. Iguazú Falls