Iguazu Falls and Sao Paulo

8 Apr

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So now I write in reflection, looking back at events that took place in what feels like a lifetime ago. It actuality it was almost 2 years now, and I simply refuse to let the fog that is time cloud my memory. I’m finding it hard to write about these adventures, because they carry so many mixed emotions for me and are likely the reason that writing has been on the bottom of the to do list. So bear with me as I dredge up these thoughts and experiences.

I remember a sense of relief flood me as we boarded our plane for Sao Paulo. My dad had been there before, and I knew it would be safer, in the way that one finds safety in the familiar. When did I get so old and less willing to venture out of my comfort zone? I knew I would find good coffee, have access to a gym and maybe find a grocery store full of things I would recognise. I knew there would be a little more English. But entering Brazil gave way to a whole different language and there would be no more understanding what was being said. That sense of relief was even greater when they let us into the country. We had visas, I knew that, because we had paid for them, but there is something about the look the passport control gives you, right before they say “Welcome to…” that seems to drag a moment out much longer than it should.

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Sao Paulo was our first stop in the last South American country we would visit, and I was thrilled. It sounds so selfish, but long term travel is exhausting, and I was tired of the unknown. We were welcomed by our AirBnB host, Natalia and her enormous Great Dane cross Labrador, into their tiny apartment, and promptly started exploring. We found grocery stores full of fresh bread, familiar fruits, signs we couldn’t read and an aisle dedicated to Haviana thongs (how truly Brazilian). We found stunning street art, and the best coffee in a tea cup that I’ve ever had. We found that people really love their dogs, parks in the middle of the most unexpected places and people with warm smiles. We weren’t in Sao Paulo for long, because one or two greater adventures awaited us. Just a few days later, we were on a plane again and headed for Foz do Iguaçu, or Iguazu Falls.

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We flew over winding rivers and dense greenery, and arrived to the stifling humidity, a loud and lowered car, and an incredibly enthusiastic Jonas, a “freelance” tour guide. He gave us all the information we needed to know, and casually mentioned we’d have roommates the following night as he left us, still trying to work out how to turn on the air conditioning. Foz do Iguaçu is actually a small town that sits right on the border of Brazil and Argentina, and the powerful falls themselves run between the two countries and can be viewed from both sides. The next morning, we hopped on a bus and went straight to the falls, and were not disappointed. The entry is much like that of any park or zoo you might go to, but the first thing I noticed was the abundance of butterflies, and I was quickly enamoured by the size and shape of each, and the vast array of colour that filled the air. They seemed particularly attracted to my pink shoes, and I spent much of my awe between the thundering falls and looking at my butterfly encrusted toes. The most impressive thing about these falls is the size of them – as you take in the forest, like there is a long and expansive gorge which is flooded as the water permeates the forest shelves and cascades down the cliffs. While the falls are not tall, they are wide and wild and the water seems to come from nowhere. As you zig zag down the ramp and get closer to the falls, Coati’s (which look like long-nosed racoons) scamper through the trees, the air becomes damp and misty and the roar of the water gets louder. A long and very wet boardwalk extends out over the lower falls where you can loose yourself in the roar, but come out of it much wetter than when you went in. Across the falls you can see the Argentinian side, so tiny it seems like a blip on the radar of raging rapids.

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Across the road from the park entry is the Parque das Aves, a privately owned bird park with walk through avaries and a butterfly house. The colour and variety of species is stunning, with many of the birds being rescues. We saw Harpy Eagles, walked through enormous enclosures of Blue, Red and Green Macaws, got up close and personal with Owls, Snakes and Toucans. The bird park was the perfect addition to our visit to the falls.

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We headed back to our accomodation as the sun was setting, to find our roommates, a very chatty American family of four, and prepared for an early morning flight to our last destination – Rio de Janerio.