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Falling in love with Iguazu

click here to view images of Iguazu Falls

May 2012

Our 18-hour bus ride from Buenos Aires to Iguazu Falls in northeastern Argentina was our best overnight bus experience on this or any othertrip. How many overnight bus trips have we taken? None.

We were in the first row of seats atop a double-decker in the more luxurious full-cama (bed) class, which reclines 180 degrees.

It comes with sheets, a pillow, and a full dinner with vegetarian option and as much wine and soft drinks as one can imbibe. Even breakfast is included. There are movies, music, and the toilet facilities are excellent.

Unfortunately we can’t remember the name of the company. The fare came to about $100 each, fair considering we were saving a night in a hotel and arrived rested and rarin’ to view the falls.

There had been a tremendous buildup from our friend, Nora Kelner, an Argentinian who lives in Montreal, about the majesty and grandeur of the Iguazu Falls. But nothing could prepare us for our first glimpses of this thundering force of nature.

We took a small bus from our hotel to the National Park and, after paying the entrance fee of $25, boarded an open-air train to the Devil’s Gorge.

Waiting for the train, we met Arden and Karen, a retired couple from Wisconsin, and shared our pleasure viewing the falls.

Our photos and videos say so much more than words can. Such adjectives as dramatic, awe inspiring, mighty, and other superlatives come to mind, as well as our feelings of humility, giddiness, wonder, and happiness at being alive to experience this natural treasure.

It is a collection of dramatic drops where the Iguazu River tumbles over the edge of the Parana
Plateau, 23 kilometres upriver from the confluence with the Parana River.

There are 150 to 300 waterfalls, depending on water levels, varying between 60 to 82 metres high, and about half of the river’s flow converges into a narrow chasm called the Devil’s Throat, where you can experience its thunderous fury from wooden observation decks on the Argentinian side.

The intense heat was relieved by the rising spray of the roaring waters below the observation decks.

Arden and Karen were so blown away by what they saw that they fumbled with their camera and it tumbled into the gorge below.

It was a brand new camera.

The day before, Karen had dropped her Nikon and had replaced it.

We ended up taking many photos of the two of them and of the falls to email them.

Ten years older than we are, they had much more stamina than Barbara, who was debilitated by the extreme heat and humidity.

Arden and Karen stayed on another three hours to view the falls from another angle and to walk through the surrounding rainforest while we high-tailed it back to our hotel, Saint George, and its soothing swimming pool surrounded by lush, sub-tropical vegetation.

Fascinated by leaves that looked like flowers and flowers that looked like insects or small animals, Barbara took lots of photos as reference for future paintings.

We walked to the small downtown of Puerto Iguazu looking for coffee and snacks to take with us on the bus we would take to our next stop, Salta, in the Juy Juy region of Argentina, a 25-hour trip.

We met Arden and Karen for dinner at our hotel.

The restaurant, Donia Maria, was operated by our hotel. Donia Maria offered a three-tiered buffet: the “salad bar” for $15; the salad plus pasta for $20 and “grills” added for a total of $25.

The salad bar was more than enough to delight and satiate us. It was like being served hors d’oeuvres at a wedding reception.

Arden, a union activist, expressed great concern about Scott Walker, the right-wing governor in Wisconsin financed by the billionaire Koch brothers, who is crushing the teacher’s union with imposed contracts that force them to pay thousands more for medical coverage that they had paid for in previous contracts.

He told us he often travels to Cuba on educational missions and we were on the same wavelength politically.

We were lucky to find our three-star room—the only one left—in this four-star hotel, Saint George, well located across from the bus station and a short walk to the centre.

It resembles a Western frontier town thrown together with no discernible art or taste … except for the delicious empanadas that we picked up at a take-out place for about 75 cents each, meat and cheese alike.

In short we loved tropical Iguazu but we probably wouldn’t return.

It takes one day to see the falls and I don’t think we’ll ever forget it. If we do we have our photos and videos to remind us.

But who knows, we may visit again from the Brazilian side.

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