¡Hola a todos!
Well, I felt that important to me as the latest blog entry is, it was also running to a terrifying length, even by my standards, so I have – helpfully I hope – split the Iguazu narrative in two; this second part deals with my later experiences on the morning of my final day up north, when I went strongly against the grain in terms of knowledgable backpacker advice and struck out for the border and across to the Brazilian side of the falls.
The Brazilian side of the falls holds an interesting place in the folk-lore surrounding the falls, perpetuated by the multitude of travellers who come here from all over the world. Many advise either seeing the Brazilian side before visiting the Argentine equivalent, or simply foregoing a visit to the Brazilian side at all. While I can appreciate that this is a valid viewpoint for some, it is not universally held. Granted, the US and Brazil hold a shaky relationship in that both charge citizens of the other country an obscene visa-entry fee and it is this that disuades many US travellers from venturing across to the Brazilian from the Argentine side of the falls. Perhaps some of the stories invoking the inferiority of the Brazilian side stem from disgruntled Americans, or even well-intended fellow travellers hoping to assuage American disappointment due to the current political state of affairs.
Although it is true that the Brazilian side of Iguazu falls short (no pun intended) of the Argentine park, it is still a breath-taking sight and useful at least for providing – for myself at any rate – some much needed visual context as to the size and scope of the falls. Many people had told me that the Brazilian side of the falls is strongest in providing better panoramic views of the falls, making for better photography opportunities. This is true but, the advantages go further than simply upgrading one’s holiday photo album. At last I was able to step back and view the falls in all their splendid entirety. The Brazilian side is certainly more capitalistically driven in appearance, with more food outlets, bigger buildings and a less comprehensive network of paths showcasing the falls themselves, perhaps due to its less impressive position in relation to the falls when compared to its Argentine neighbour. There are, as a saving grace, a wide network of trails revealing the Brazilian national park as a whole, albeit largely away from views of the falls themselves. Yes also, the lookout stations were far fewer here and so, naturally, they were slightly more crowded but, only slightly. They also stretched closer to the falls from below, almost from the surface-level of the river running below the falls and this added towards the general amazement instilled in me the previous day. Besides the obvious highlight of some much-appreciated added context to the nature of the Iguazu Falls, Brazil also provided me with some local currency and a further interesting stamp in my passport, worthy mementos from any trip I am sure.
The trip to Brazil was short and I headed back into Argentina in the early afternoon, first to the hostel to pick up my main travel bag for the trip and then on into town to catch my hotly-anticipated long-haul bus back to BA in the early evening. I enjoyed my time across the border and another valuable lesson was vindicated: I would much rather return from this trip with stories, and potential advice for other would-be travellers in this neck of the woods, borne from my own experiences rather than the potentially misguided hear-say of others. Many were the advisors who counselled me to avoid wasting my time and money in Brazil, and I am sure that their intentions were well-intended. Nonetheless, I felt that my trip over the border was integral to my trip to Iguazu as a whole and I am pleased to say that, rather than bow to peer pressure (admittedly of a non-threatening, though no less impressive, type), I followed my instincts and was rewarded with another memorable day – well, morning at least – in my trip to the north of Argentina (and now to the south of Brazil!).
¡Besos a todos!