Diary/Photo Journal

Week of February 06, 2005 (continued)

Foz do Iguassu (this is the English spelling, it actually is Foz do Iguacu with that funny "c" that Portuguese and French have) is a massive waterfall in which the  highest volume of water courses through in the world.  At the airport, we found ourselves greeted by a terrific young man named Giovanni and his English was excellent (not to mention he was very easy to look at, or at least that was what I was told by the other women in our party).  In no time at all, we arranged our next few days of activities so that we could get the most out of our short visit in this magical place.

Rather than let the grass grow under our feet, we moved a later tour to the afternoon of our arrival and what an experience it was.  Let's just say that we took the guide seriously when he said to place our cameras in a sealed plastic bag because we "might" get wet.  Well, he never said "might" but being from the United States where people fret over the smallest thing, we thought that the guide was just being overly cautious and we were being good little complying tourists.  Let me show you some pictures of what it is like to travel to and under and around some of the most powerful waterfalls in the world (and yes, I did say "under").

And remember, if you do not like waterfalls, you will want to skip the next thousand photos...

This is what a waterfall looks like
from underneath and from being so
close that the spray rains down on
you like a thunderstorm.  The pictures
were taken through a plastic bag

First, our trek to the Iguassu Falls consisted of an ecologically-guided jeep tour through the sub-tropical jungle.  Following this, we hiked through dense thicket and crossed the path of a small, but accessible waterfall.  Of course, we had to stop and play in the water like a bunch of kids around a broken sprinkler on a  hot summer day.

Our jeep ride and our trek.

Quite beautiful
Never found a waterfall that
we did not like!

Already being wet upon arrival at the boat docks, Gerson and I shrugged off the idea that we could get even wetter.  I did pack my camera in the plastic bag I brought and we all put on the obligatory life jacket.  From there, nothing was as we expected.  No matter how broad and colorful you feel your imagination is, you cannot fathom what our experience was until you are up front and personal with the combination of falls that compile Iguassu. 

Because the area has received more rainfall this year than in many previous years, our boat driver took us directly into the driven mist of the falls.  And, due to the fact that Gerson explained that we tip well, we were treated to many "dunkings" under several of the water falls at the mouth of the main fall (which is respectfully known as the Devil's Throat).  Here is our photo journal of our introduction to one of the most amazing and the most awe inspiring places that I have ever known.

Part of the chain of falls and
the Devil's Throat itself.

Our awesome group picture
and Kelly's face says it all -
a mixture of wow and wonder

Gerson and Lori

After the fantastic boat ride

Now, you have seen the falls from underneath, from in front and around.  After this short story, I will show you the pictures of the top and above for your enjoyment. 

The Legend of Iguassu Falls

The legend is about Naipi and Taroba, a young lady and a young man within the tribe of the Caingangue Indians.  The Caingangues lived on the banks of the Iguassu River and believed that the world was ruled by M'Boi, a god which chose the form of a serpent.  Naipi was the daughter of the chief, Igobi, and she was so beautiful that the river ceased to flow and disturb her reflection when she looked upon its waters. 

Because of Naipi's exquisite beauty, she was consecrated to the god M'Boi to live only for his worship.  However, among the Caingangue Indians, there was a handsome young warrior, Taroba, who fell in love with Naipi the moment he looked upon her visage.  On the day of the consecration, while the chief and the priest were drinking "cauin" and the warriors were lost in their dancing, Taroba stole away with Naipi in a canoe and followed a swift current downriver.

When M'Boi learned about the escape of Naipi and Taroba, he became insanely furious and penetrated under ground.  He twisted and writhed and tempered and squirmed and by thrashing his body to and fro, he opened a gigantic fissure and the waters poured forth from the Iguassu river.  Taken by the waters of the great falls, the canoe was borne down into the depths of the river, never to be found.

The legend tells us that Naipi turned into one of the prominent central rocks below the waterfalls, forever to be touched by the waters, and Taroba turned into a large palm tree, inclined over the throat of the river, forever beholding his beloved.

And now, for those pictures...



Starting from the Iguassu River, through the dam to the mist of the falls on the horizon, to eventually cascade into the Devil's Throat. 

The Iguassu River divides its time between Brasil and Argentina.

Jumping ahead a bit, we also trekked along the Brazilian side of the river and falls and the next day, we trotted along the Argentinean side of the river and falls. 

Views along the way
of our walk

Gerson, Robert, Kelly,
Ed, James, Carol,
Chris and Lori

Thankful for digital cameras...there
is not a view that the camera did
not like

The walk out onto that pier is
incredible as well as wet!


Had enough?  I hope not because more great pictures are forthcoming...

One cannot help but
contemplate the
magnificence of
this special place

Looking at these sunlit falls
seems as though you are
peering through an intricately
laced veil of diamonds

Without being there, one can
only dully imagine the powerful
deafening roar of the water

Did you know that Iguassu Falls and the rivers that pour forth into the falls divide three countries?  Well, now you know...

We all were eclipsed
by the natural beauty
around us
Where Brasil, Argentina and Paraguay meet. 
Brasil is to the right, Argentina is to the left and Paraguay
is at the top.  The Iguassu river divides Brasil and
Argentina and the top river is the Parana.
Notice the sediment color at the transition of the rivers.

Our Argentina jaunt also included a wonderful lunch at a "fishascaria", my word for a place that has a buffet and serves you as though you are in a churrascaria but it is fish, not meat, with which they inundate your plate.  Again, Giovanni scored big points with all of us. 

Powerful waters

Ring of falls

On the other side: Argentina
Ed, Lori, Gerson,
Louise, Chris,
Robert, Kelly and Gio

  More beauty

Our lunch

I do apologize as I have jumped around a bit; however, the three days that we were in Foz do Iguassu were so filled with activities that I am trying to group the photos into some semblance of literary order.  One of the events I have failed to mention until now was a birthday celebration that we had for one of our own.  Chris turned a whopping 32 (the young'in) on February 9th and like we needed an excuse to go out to dinner and imbibe a few.  Again, Gio escorted us to a fantastic churrascaria and nudged us around the corner for a celebratory shot for the birthday boy (Lori also took the funnel plunge).

Birthday fun for Chris

These funnels coordinate
various alcohols and they
keep pouring until the
victim waves for mercy


Taroba and Naipi reincarnated

This skeleton of a hotel is a vivid example of what
happened to Argentina when their economy
crashed literally overnight.  The value of their
money decreased many times over within
24 hours, ceasing many high-end construction
projects in mid-mortar.  The brick skeletons remain
many years later.

As if we did not do enough during our stay in Foz, we slipped in a little helicopter time so we could get yet more photos of the falls and the surrounding landscape.  Yep, more waterfall pictures (dappled in with other scenic highlights).

Kelly is ready for her
helicopter ride

Gerson, Louise and Lori
strike the pose

The aerial view of approaching
the Iguassu Falls.  That ever-
increasing in size hotel was
none other than our hotel!
Our rooms were to the left
of the tower and what a view
we had!

See, I told you I took literary license to juggle the events so that the photos flowed nicely.  Seeing as I have just introduced the hotel we guested at in the above photos, let me tell you about this extraordinary hotel, Tropical das Cataratas resort.

Construction began in 1954 but was abandoned after a shift in the government and a drop in the financial condition of the country.  After being acquired by another Hotel chain, the hotel was completed and subsequently sold to Varig Airlines (the dominant Brazilian airline).  Initially, the hotel housed 50 rooms but that has been since been expanded to 203 rooms within the five-star eco-resort. 

What had started to be a small, almost inaccessible hotel (that was to include a Casino Hall) has turned out to be one of the most important worldwide tourist destinations and one of the greatest tax revenue contributors for the State of Parana and the Country of Brasil.

Tropical das Cataratas - our
balconies and our view to the

Opposite views to the hotel
Note in the last picture that
you are looking at the crest
of the waterfall that you can
see from the hotel

Sunset from the Presidential Suite


When we arranged for the stay at the only hotel within the National Park for Iguassu Falls, Gerson had to do a little schmoozing to get us to the top of the waiting list and soon after, to actually acquire the rooms.  We knew the hotel would be crowded; however, we did not expect to arrive and be without a place to stay.

Well, before you jump to conclusions, it was not as though we had no rooms, it was just that the manager felt we were the right group to ask to compress our numbers into two rooms:  one room was a double (which we had already paid for three doubles and one triple) and one room was the "Presidential Suite".  My being the cautious sort, I requested a thorough inspection of this so-called "Presidential" suite/group-room in question. 

We were asked to wait for a short time while they prepared the room and that was when I started to wonder, "How many bunk beds were they going to try and cram into this room?"  After a round of drinks at the bar and a very complete buffet lunch, we were told that all was paid for "if" we accepted the single room for seven of us.  Can you imagine placing seven people (two couples, one single woman and two very single men) in the same room for two nights and three days?  Mayhaps you can understand my trepidation.

Even though we became mellow from beer and relaxed from food, we were still a bit anxious to see this "room".  Finally, we were allowed to peer at our possible quarters and I walked down the seemingly endless hallway all the while voicing my reluctance and my concern of acceptance of the terms of our residency.  I explained that I want to perform a complete inspection to see if the room is in fact, comfortable and worthy of our version of "Real World, Iguassu" (to take off from Real World on MTV). 

The large double wood door was open so I pushed on ahead and broke into the blindingly lit room.  Anticipating my denial to the manager, I allowed my eyes to adjust to the light streaming in through the balcony alcove and through my dumbfounded tears I exclaimed "We'll take it!!!"  So much for that thorough inspection!

You see, the room was not a room at all, but a small taste of what it is like to inhabit a penthouse or a small part of a manse.  The dining area flowed into the common area that most knaves would name as the living room.   At the end of this expanse was the cause of the momentary blindness in which we were all affected, a rather comfortably sized balcony. 

Upon entering through yet another large wood door, we found ourselves in a cozy hallway that led to three more large wooden doors.  To our left existed a large bedroom suite with two single beds and this massively-doored closet.  Yet another balcony extended the room and Gerson, Lori and I had found our home for the next few days (we added another bed to the mix with seemingly no loss of space).  A few paces to the end of the hallway we found our voices echoing in the large tiled bathroom and our eyes gazing at a cozy jacuzzi tub.  To our right, we stepped into a large master suite, complete with a large bed and a third balcony and this was claimed by Robert and Kelly.  James and Carol were snug in their own personal suite complete with incredibly complex wood accents and a view only a few feet to the right of ours.

Completing our "Real World" experience, we hailed the hotel staff to provide two additional beds, one being placed in the dining area cove and another being placed in a corner of the living area.  In such luxurious surroundings, we fared quite well indeed and we took no time to clothe ourselves in the robes provided for our enjoyment while guesting in the suite. 

Our view of the Iguassu Falls was as shown above and our balcony sunsets were stunning.  And, to add to our magnificent rise in our personal stature, this very same room was visited upon by none other than Princess Diana of Wales, Prime Minister Tony Blair and even our own President Bill Clinton.  There were, of course, many other notables but alas, I would not presume to make any of you lesser beings envious.

Lunch poolside

The Foz Boyz
and enjoying the simple pleasures in life

Well, enough of waterfalls and luxury and onto a brief tour through a bird sanctuary.  The bird habitat is located just outside of the park and we managed to quarry enough time to walk through its enclosures.  The birds are those that populate the area, which include Brasil, Argentina and Paraguay.  In addition, a few beautiful plants bordered our walk.

Blue Hyacinth, the largest Macaw

Brilliant blue parrot

A bird with a bad hair day

Something from the Jurassic Era
Look very closely...very dinosaur

Gerson having some one-on-one
time with a toucan

I found a rather cheeky parrot that
tries to steal watches

Radiant red birds and another
type of toucan

From here, we were shuttled off to the airport where we sang our thanks to Giovanni and mumbled our goodbyes. 

Just a couple of
examples of the
beautiful sub-tropical
flowering plants we found
Once again, we meet Coatis, the weasel
kingdom's comics.  The second Coati just
could not understand why the yogurt drink
bottle would not fit through the hole.  He
tried repeatedly until he embarassingly fell
back into the garbage

We boarded our flight to Curitiba and upon our departure of the plane, we said good-bye to three of our traveling companions: James, Carol and Lori.  We were saddened to see them go; however, stepping back into Curitiba meant home for Gerson and the remaining six were excited to see his hometown.

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