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Fly-by Brazil

Foz do Iguacu, Brazil

Paraguay out of the way, it was now time to visit the Brazilian side of Iguazu Falls. We had been told half a day is easily enough for this, though we were in danger of not even having that. Getting a bus on the Brazilian side wasn't as easy as we expected either. We saw a bus on the same route as we had taken, but the driver refused to take us and I couldn't catch why. We didn't understand: this is the same bus you take into Foz then you have to change to another bus for the las cataratas. Eventually we worked out he was telling us to wait at a different stop for a different bus. We were still none-the-wiser why, but had little choice. This bus went OK until it dropped us at the terminus: the only explanation we'd had for taking this bus instead of the one we tried to get on was that it might be direct. The bus station was very confusing: I hadn't realised how much I was relying on the wisp of Spanish that I have and now it was replaced with Portuguese I had nothing! Someone with only a little Spanish tried to communicate with my only a little Spanish and pointed us in the direction of the bus we needed. And it was free!

Even at the entrance to the cataratas park, we couldn't work out what was what. Why is Brazil so confusing? The tickets were split into entrance and transport. Did we need the transport? What was the transport for? We just asked for two foreigner tickets and paid the amount, then we were back outside again waiting for another bus. Ah – the set up isn't like Argentina: you pay at the entrance to the park which is a few miles from the falls.

The Brazilian side isn't as breath-taking, mostly because you aren't as close to the awesome power of the falls, but it does afford very nice panoramic views of more-or-less everything, which you can't see in Argentina due to the your proximity: you can only ever see one little bit at a time. Unfortunately, we were there at the wrong time of day: the view was a bit too dazzling because of the sun right behind the falls; morning would have been the time for the Brazilian side, but our stupid guide book didn't think to mention an obvious detail like that. Nonetheless, details like the impression of the clouds constantly rising up out of the forest are very nice, then la Garganta del Diablo is actually better on the Brazil side: a platform takes you out onto a lower level calm bit, halfway down the cascade, so that you are facing the main force of the deluge, while precipitously hanging over the next stage of the cascade. You can see much more of this spectacle from Brazil.

Then we were waiting for a bus again, back to the park entrance; then another bus to take us to the changing point, where we could finally get our bus to Argentina. But we went past where we expected the change to be, even though a German guy we had started talking to had asked the driver in much more proficient Spanish than mine to alert us when we should get off. Finally he asked someone else who told him to get off now. Then we were waiting again, and the time of the last bus was approaching, but it arrived before we started giving up, however there was one more obstacle to clear: we had to get our passports stamped out of Brazil. We were thinking about not bothering because we had no plans to re-enter Brazil, but then some other people stood up to get off and we thought it would be OK with others doing it; the bus would presumably wait. But as soon as we were off the bus, it left, and only then did we notice the other people had not got off, but just sat down again. The stamps took no time and the poor German guy had got off with us for no good reason as he hadn't been stamped in, so would have been in trouble if he'd tried to stamp out. Some passersby told us the border crossing here is three kilometres long and very dangerous, and that there was only one more bus, so we had to get it. When the bus arrived we showed our tickets, which are still supposed to be valid for the next bus, but the driver said “wrong company, twenty minutes more”. We had been told this was the last bus and it was definitely after last bus time now, so we weren't taking any more chances and we just paid again. At the Argentinian side the buses wait.

What a stupid stupid system: all this pointless competition when they could have an integrated public transport system; this stupid system of not waiting at the border; and finally, why isn't there at least a tourist bus, travelling from Puerto Igazu direct to las cataratas on the Brazilian side? And another travelling from Foz do Iguaçu direct to las cataratas on the Argentinian side. They could be buses that wait on both sides of the border and they could charge double what the two-bus combined trip costs and most tourists would do so happily to avoid all of this hassle and uncertainty. The Brazilian side was nice, but not as impressive as the Argentinian side, and by the end of all that, we wondered if it had been worth the effort.

Back in town, our grumpy mood was amplified by the discovery that nearly all the eating places were closed by 10pm – on Friday – which is worse than Glasgow! And this is supposed to be Latin America, where people never even leave the house before 9pm. The place we did find was packed and I was struck again by how many fizzy drinks, particularly Coke, South Americans drink. There would be tables of families with two big bottles of sugary soft drinks in the middle of the table; no wine and no water, in fact you don't seem to be able to buy big bottles of water in restaurants, just two-litre bottles of pop! How strange, it's not a children birthday party; even tables with just adults had the same. They may not be alcoholics, but they must have a terrible rate of diabetes.

permalink written by  The Happy Couple on October 9, 2009 from Foz do Iguacu, Brazil
from the travel blog: Michael's Round-the-World honeymoon
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The pictures of info of this spot looks AMAZING, I would really like to go there. How long should I plan my travel in order to see more or less all the touristy spots there?

permalink written by  alicet homson on October 18, 2009

If you're just talking about the area around the Falls then you probably just need three nights, or two if you are really quick but, if you're talking about the whole of the region, I think a year should be about right :-)

permalink written by  The Happy Couple on October 23, 2009

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