Iguazu Falls, Puerto Iguazu, Argentina - January 23, 2015
Puerto Iguazú, Argentina
Eight-hour and 5 mile tour of the Argentine side of the falls today. It is said that Argentina has the falls but Brazil has the view . . . that's not exactly the case. The view here is magnificent. It is a totally different experience on this side of the river but magnificent none the less.
The falls have been recently named one of the new Seven Wonders of the World, and nominated as a World Natural Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1986. To see the falls, we drove by car to the Iguazu (Big Waters) National Park, then walked on winding metal-grate walk-ways through the jungle down to reach the bottom of the falls then up again to the point where waters of the Iguazu River falls cascade over to form all 270+ individual water falls—some small, some forming rainbows, some wide like the Devil's Throat (Garanta del Diablo), and some so powerful, a tall cloud of mist rises from the throat as the water crashes down. I hope you will take a look at the photos.
Let me see if I can get this correct, the Iguazu River is the border between Brazil and Argentina. After the falls, the river converges with another river, the Rio Parana. At this point, three countries are connected, Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay. Stan and I hope to see this point this evening at sunset. It is just a short walk from our hotel.
We have noticed there is a curious drink here. We saw people holding highly decorated mugs, sipping something through a metal straw. Many shops feature these cups with a silver straw that has a tiny spoon-like basin at the lower tip. We also saw bags of dried green leafy stuff we did not recognize????? The first time we saw it, Stan thought it might be some sort of pipe and some sort of smoking materials. Our source of intelligence, the desk clerk at our hotel, gave us the scoop. The mug is used to make a very popular drink, mate, that is widely consumed in this region of South America. As we understand, these beautifully crafted mugs (or gourds) are packed with leaves of the mate plant and steeped in hot, but not boiling water to make a tea. People like to drink mate with friends. They sip, add more water and then pass to the next person. They also like to drink it as perhaps we might drink coffee, water or iced tea, carrying with them everywhere. On our excursion today, we saw countless people not only carrying their mugs of mate, but also carrying a thermos of hot water for refills. To show just how popular this drink is, "refilling stations" can be found in public places where people can refill their thermos with hot water. Mate has no medicinal properties other than having a caffeine-like effect and being very refreshing. Our friend at the hotel front desk, promised to make mate for us tomorrow morning before we depart for the flight to Buenos Aires.
PS - I must remark, I imagined Iguazu Falls as an exotic remote place found only by seasoned travelers. Ha! I will say it once more, ha! It's like Disney. There are crowds of travelers . . and you must stand in a que for indeterminate periods of time with people from all nations. Even on the mile-long walk out to the Devil's Throat Falls, a park ranger serves as a traffic light--this row can go while this row must stay. ------ We might be 25 years too late to have witnessed this place its earlier pristine state.