01.03.2010 40 °C
From Buenos Aires it took us 16 hours to get to Puerto Iguazu. Since we would continue to Sao Paulo by bus, we decided to book our hostel in Foz do Iguaçu, the Brasilian side. In order to get there, we took a local bus to the border, got dropped off to go through customs and had to wait there for the following bus. In the meantime, the biggest tropical storm made us soaking wet and by the time we arrived at the Bambu Hostel, we were showered. The hostel was pretty cool, with a swimming pool and a bar, and we were already in the mood of some caipirinhas. Foz do Iguaçu is not particularly a charming city, in fact it's quite well-known for being unsafe, but it's right next to the famous falls and in the middle of the jungle, so it's humid and extremely hot. We had plans to stay just 2 nights, enough to visit the Iguaçu Falls from both the Argentinian and Brasilian sides.
The first day we booked a full day tour from Foz to visit the Argentinian side, which from what we heard was the best part. We were just around 12 people and our guide was pretty laid-back, so there was no feeling of being in a guided tour. We crossed the border without even getting out of the car, as it was enough for the driver to show our passports. As soon as we got inside the park we got offered a short tour through the jungle and a boat ride next to the falls. The ride through the jungle was fine although the noise from the van and the guide speaking through the microphone obviously makes it impossible to spot any animals...the real fun part was the boat tour. You don't see the falls right from the beginning, so you start off by contemplating the river surrounded by jungle vegetation and the boat goes real fast. You first see the falls after a couple of minutes and even if they're far away, you're already impressed by their size and all the steam around them. The speed boat stopped in front of them so that we could take some photographs but the cameras were already getting wet, and we weren't even that near. We then stored all our stuff in a waterproof bag and off we went, not under the falls but a few metres away, to get showered! We spent a couple of minutes jumping alternating from one waterfall to another until they let us off the boat and started our walk on the platforms. At that point we noticed the park was full of butterflies of all sizes and colours, and they were even posing themselves on our hands and arms to suck the water on our skins. The walk was wonderful and we stared at the falls from different lookouts...the best of all was the famous Devil's Throat / Garganta del Diablo, right at the end of the park and the most impressive group of falls we've ever seen...well you don't even see the river due to the amount of steam that comes out.
The next day we went to visit the Iguaçu Falls from the Brasilian side. From the Brasilian side the panoramic of the falls is splendid, although you don't experience them in the same way, so that's why we preferred the Argentinian side. It took us only 1 hour to do the whole walk and in the end we went to see the Devil's Throat from a platform that had been built on top of another waterfall, that was scary! And we got soaking wet again... :-)
From Foz do Iguaçu we took an overnight bus to Sao Paulo (another 16 hours) and decided to stay 1 night to rest and meet one of Nick's friends from San Diego, Fred. Fred was our inspiration for this trip, as he quit his life in Brazil to travel around the world for 20 months, and he even wrote a book about it ( "Saí pra dar uma volta" ), plus he does workshops in Brazil and hopefully some day he will have his book translated into different languages, so that everyone has the chance to read about his wonderful stories. We only had one day in Sao Paulo and Fred showed us around...thanks Fred!!! The first thing we needed food and he took us to the "Mercado Municipal" to eat a traditional sandwich with bologna. We then walked a little bit around the city centre and watched locals selling all sorts of things on the streets; from clothes to music to food...we then went to see the Cathedral, the Japanese neighbourhood and of course the famous shopping street Rua Oscar Freire, which felt like visiting a different city as everything was so posh and high-class. We ended our day tour with a stop in a square in Villa Madalena, where there was a market with food stalls and people were eating and sitting watching a band play the local music "Chorinho". We just sat there with the rest of the crowd and enjoyed watching everybody else interact, sing, dance and play. There was also a gay bar just beside the square, with the best music and the largest amount of people drinking an appetiser before dinner. That night we met Giulio for some drinks and dinner at the bar Vaca Veia, in the area of Itaim, where we had a taste of the fabulous caipirinha of maracuyá (passionfruit) and caipivodka with kiwi...OH MY GOD!!! We were also happy to meet again Giulio, who recently moved to Sampa for work, and enjoyed a great dinner with him and Fred.
From Sampa we took a bus the next morning to Paraty...finally the time had come to meet our group of very close friends, known to us as the Family. We couldn't wait!!