27. Sep, 2015

A very wet but warm welcome by Iguazu

Flights are aways interesting. We had yet to have a female pilot and most planes we had been in were air buses. I like airbuses. They are reliable and there are few bumps whilst in the air. Most challenging flights so far and coming in at number 

3. Quito to Lima - it wasn't just the plane ride which was bumpy but also Cotapxi had yet to blow its top and could have done at any moment, including as we flew dangerously close to it, but the fugitives on the plane made a real scene for the first 45 minutes. 

2. Cusco to Lima take off was bumpy and it seemed to take a long time to control the plane. 

And landing in at number 1 we have:

1. Malaga to Madrid in the Mosquito - bumped the whole journey, flew close to the ground and to make matters worse I had the child from I don't where, kicking me the whole journey. Note to self - next time take the train, just as fast and cheap and it's practically door to door with less wait time. Cue read 'Idle Traveller' by Dan Kieran and outlines routes and reasons to take trains rather than planes - if only we all had the time to...

On this flight to Iguazu I had the most nervous person I had ever encountered on a flight right next to me. A father with his children and wife who sat adjacent to him but across the aisle. First flight, I thought. He took photos of everything, his wife and the children ok, but the sandwich box, the exit sign, the wing, his children eating the sandwich, his children drinking, his feet, me and John - when was he going to stop? I thought it quite cute though. He kept closing his eyes and practising his relaxing techniques. The ride was a little bumpy in parts and although he tried to be the courageous father he gave in to his worries and swapped place with his son putting him next to me so he could sit next to his wife to hold her hand. The boy, about 8, fidgeted lots and as we descended he picked his ears incessantly trying to stop them popping. He sat on his hands as he realised that his behaviour was somewhat worrying as dad took photos of the whole affair. The landing was hilarious. Dad squeezed his wife's hand and his eyes tight and moved his feet as if he is putting the brakes on his car down hard. We land safely and nearly everyone broke out into an infectious round of applause. I have not heard a round of applause since our landing in Cancun. You can't help wearing a smile and loving the Latino love of life and praise others including God.

Our hotel was in the jungle and we had just escaped a thunderstorm. The air was damp and cool and leaves littered the gangways to our room.

Keen to get to the falls we left the next day at 10. Iguazu is magical, yes more magical than the Magic Kingdom. It was Sunday and Argentinians and the surrounding countries pay a fraction of the price of other foreigners, I wonder how people would feel if we did this in the UK charge Brits little, but foreigners 500% more. 

Like many places we had visited in the Americas the marketing and signposting is not what we would normally expect in the western countries but the sights are so amazing you get over that quickly. Iguazu Park is well laid out with plenty of walkways, and safe platforms from which to view the falls, but the signposting is odd and do you have to be patient as you navigate your way around the site with 1000s of mate (pronounced Matay) carrying Argentinians. An Argentinians day would not be complete without mate. They sip from their cantina all day getting buzzed up. 

People walked around with their mate sets. Peru had coca leaves and Pisco sours Ecuador had pizza, and Argentina had mate they would carry around their cantinas and fill up their mate cups frequently. The few times I had mate it knocked me bandy to the point that I could hardly cross the road I was that dizzy. But like any good narcotic your body soon becomes immune to it and it becomes a regular part of your everyday routine. I saw children as young as 8 or 9 drinking it. 

Iguazu Falls is a wow a minute. Falls surround you 360 degrees. It is a heavenly sight to see and again you know you are in the presence of greatness. What amazed me the most was knowing that these falls were immortal, thundering day and night , year and year and never disappointing a hungry visitor who was wooed closer and closer to listen to its eternal heart. A peaceful and harmonious, but bustling and noisy place simultaneously. Paradox personified. 

Queuing remains obsolete  and we had to queue many times at the falls, for food, for toilets for the connecting trains - whilst as long as I get what I have come for I do not mind, but I do like order and that is often lacking wherever we went. With the number of people on the rise it is a necessary concept to understand and live by. The Argentinians do try hard but they do need some direction.

We visited these mighty Iguazu Falls - Big Water - on 3 occasions such was our thirst for more energising. As you stood in front with your eyes agog feeling your body filling up with a lifetime of happiness. That's what fountains of youth are, it is not the water but the sight of the water tumbling that keeps you young, inspired and happy. With happiness grows a happy heart and with a happy heart you see happiness all around you just like a youth does. 

People snapped away, drank their mate, and bumbled on through the park. Normally the butterflies, coaties, toucans and the monkeys would take precedence over a waterfall, but in Iguazu their appeal is lessened as the waters call your name again and again. The mythical waters held us in its gaze and this was gratefully reciprocated by all who dared to go closer including us.

The coaties at first seemed lovely, but like curious racoons rummaging through your rubbish,  by the end of the day though you are beating them off with a stick!

At least twice I warned families of the coaties' skullduggery manoeuvres, otherwise known as their survival habit. Superwoman to the rescue I thought as a woman came out of the shop and threw 5 lollies on the table. I jumped up with a determined hand in her face and said no don't do this, the coaties will get you and the lollies and terrorise your children! Before she could scoop them up the coaties had terrorised them all and nabbed a lolly. 

Butterflies were in their thousands in winter Iguazu and that was a miracle in itself. Everywhere we went this summer people would say it is unseasonably hot for this time of year. We revelled in the sun as we knew that in 5 wks time we would be living in 10 degrees and below for 5 months. In Quito, Ecuador they had not seen rain for 4 months and similarly in Iguazu it was normally 23 but currently it was 33+ in Buenos Aires it was normally 20 and it averaged 26+ when we were there, RDJ was to be even hotter at 34+

The next day we decided to visit the Brazilian side. Passports at the ready we passed through immigration at the Argentine border without a hitch and the Brazilian immigration was even easier as it appeared to be non existent. This would prove to be problematic later on. Again we were wowed by the majesty of the huge falling water.

Brazil was instantly different in its approach to customer care. How to handle people seemed important. Here you are a customer and that seemed to mean something. As on most of our tours we were tourists and some took advantage and saw you as something to look down on. Living in Beautiful Bath I come across this concept lived by by some locals - it's rare but scratch the surface and it's there dressed in black. Visitors or tourists clutter the space and are frowned upon, particularly if they are from the opposing rugby team for that day - lol. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bath_Rugby 

We had read that that the Brazilian side was better for panoramic views and getting up close was not as mesmerising or as easy. This is where guide books have to be left on the shelf, go and experience this for yourself and make your own judgements. The Brazilian side was every bit as mesmerising as the Argentinian side and getting up close was easy. In fact we got soaked just crossing from one platform to another, that's how close up you got. Travelling is like that. It doesn't matter how much you read or watch a programme on TV or YouTube about a place to be there is nothing like living it and seeing it for yourself. The experiences are always much more exhilarating and that's why people pursue holidays I guess, for the experiences. 

The trip on the boat, whilst exhilarating, did was nervous as we went scarily close to the waterfalls. I tried to not look at the waterfalls as we ventured closer and closer. I think when you resign yourself to the worst case scenario cue Dr Pepper advert https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=LoR2qr0d3Gc&autoplay=1 

You are accepting of your fate once you face the worst case scenario even if that is death. Again a vision of us hurtling to our doom played over in my mind. I soon relaxed though and enjoyed the scenes presented to us. Iguazu is so similar to Costa Rica, it is difficult not to compare them. However, I was floating on water which served the 90m waterfall called Devils Throat and that in itself was unique. I did use my camera a little, but by this point we just enjoyed looking at what we were seeing rather than taking photos. We can always get photos from the Internet. Facts re IF can be found here. http://twistedsifter.com/2010/03/iguazu-falls-10-incredible-facts/ 

We had become accustomed to eating much late on in the day and in Iguassu there were good restaurants and well behaved or I should say well trained coaties- pronounced quo- at -tees. Huge blue butterflies sang and danced around exciting the diners. It really was another thing to delight in seeing this perfect natural creature giving such pleasure through its flight across the open air restaurant. Often in these type of restaurants people bring their own food. They crack open their own sandwiches and enjoy. 

It was such a gorgeous experience and I am so glad that we took the time to plan it carefully. More delicacies were coming up and we were getting ready for them to colour our minds. 

Next day fly to RDJ at 6am.