Brazil – Iguazu to Rio

Another overnight bus from Buenos Aires landed me in Iguazu, the largest waterfall I have ever seen. Waterfalls would be more accurate. Walking around for about four hours, everywhere you stop there is another waterfall, and by waterfall I mean a cascade the size of a football field wide, and twice as tall. There are actually three that are that big. The other ones are small in comparison, maybe only about as wide as half a city block, some only as wide as a house. Hardly worth seeing, the little ones. Iguazu, which means big water in the local tribal dialect, also acts as a border between Argentina and Brazil, with Brazil having a nice view of the falls, and Argentina actually having the falls. Rough cut for Brazil. The town of Puerto Iguazu, AR, is about 30K people, while Foz do Iguaçu, BR, has about 500K residents. Crossing the border there, already you can see how much of a difference there is between the two countries. Speaking of the border, for an American to get a visa at home for Brazil, you need $100, and 10 days to wait, as well as tickets in and out. In Buenos Aires, or Montevideo, Uruguay, you need the same amount of money, but about 5 business days, as well as proof of your entry and exit from the country. In Puerto Iguazu, on the border, I still needed the money, but I dropped off my passport and my application at about 9:30am, then went and checked email and ate, and came back at noon to pick up my visa. Cest fin. No tickets necessary. So, if you are trying to get a visa to go there, and are American, I recommend the experience. It was refreshing how little they sweated the details. The Aussies who were there had a fairly easy go of it as well.

One of the amazing things about Iguazu, other than the ginormous amount of water falling EVERYwhere, was that having fallen asleep at night, and woken up most of the way there, all the colors of the scenery had completely changed. There are now three primary colors, and everything follows suit. The roads and the ground, clay, and dirt are all red. Deep, iron rich, slightly orangey red, like the Golden Gate Bridge, when it is newly painted, and they use the redder of the hues, not the one that looks like a pumpkin. At sunset. That color. Then there are all the plants, trees, and grasses, that cover just about everything, and instead of cutting them, they just light them on fire, since they grow back without any effort. And these are green, except when they are burning or burnt. This covers all the rest of the ground. The sky above is blue, a little paler than before, but a beautiful contrast, and these are the only colors you see. Literally, everything you see is one of these three colors. The buildings, for the most part, are made of bricks, so they are the red of the clay, and when they are painted, often on the roofs, the color chosen is green. And it has jumped about 15 degrees, to the mid to high 90´s, and full humidity. So, that made me quite thankful for the other unusual surprise of the town, which was that the hostel I stayed in had a massive pool, and was not crowded, despite being massive with an occupancy of 210 and completely full. So, some tanning happened, some relaxation, and with visa and plane flight now sorted, I bid adieu to Argentina, and headed up into Brazil, to catch a 24 hour bus to Rio, where I was meeting Lexie, the friend of my friend Chloe, and who I was heading to the Amazon with.

I had exactly 12 hours to play with in Rio, and spent the first two trying to find where Lex lived, and to get into her apartment, about 2 blocks from the beach in Ipanema. The apartment was beautiful, tile floors, extra rooms, and from the eighth floor, not quite a view of the beach, but close enough that you could feel it, knew that it was near. People on the street varied between bathing suits (speedos, yes, they are in vogue), and nice linnens. The beach was empty by the time I got there at about 11pm, but you could still see how beautiful it is. White sand, right on the city, and inviting. I was sad that I had to leave that morning before it was light, but the end of my Brazil trip goes back through Rio, so I will hopefully have some more time there. No pictures of Rio were taken, although I can tell you, it boggles the mind. Possibly the prettiest city I have ever seen. Sea, mountains, lake, trees, people. All of it. Dazzling. I can´t wait to go back, and I probably will make it back before Lex, so won´t have a tour guide, but I don´t imagine you really need one there. We had dinner, and from one of the favelas (slum city shanty towns) they started setting off fireworks, which, according to the locals, meant that either a police raid was happening, or someones birthday, or they just had some fireworks they felt like setting off. Either way, it was magical.

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