We are going somewhere today, dammit. We took one day off and it was an necessary luxury. The second day off was unintentional, but rains kept us sidelined. We aren’t going to spend another day of travel in the hotel. No matter what.
Well “What” turns out to be storm clouds and torrential rains, which we are only partly prepared for, but we encounter our wettest day EVER.
After the ultra sugary bakery breakfast that seems au courant here in South America, I practice some handstands in the room. I’m determined to have a three second handstand by New Years eve (tomorrow.) It was a goal for 2014 and I spent a lot of time fucking around with shoulder surgery instead of practicing handstands. Now my time is running out.
I have to change some money, so we walk to the Cambio for some Argentine pesos, which are about 9:1USD, but I’m changing Brazillian Real first and I have to do the math in my head for three currencies and I don’t know exactly how much I changed. I have a boatload of Argentinian pesos afterward.
The cab driver wants 100 pesos for the ride to the park, which seems okay. In the car Emma remembers that she forgot her camera, which is a shame since she started out so well yesterday. Meh, it’s one less thing to carry and we have a lot of walking to do today.
Although Brazil definitely has the most spectacular experience because they built the Devil’s Throat walkway that puts you in the middle of the best part of the falls, Argentina has the better trails and more traditional sscenicviews. Iguazu is a series of falls that stretches a mile and a half, diagonally across the Iguazu river and most of it is on the Argentina side.
It’s drizzling as we arrive but the lines are ten times shorter and the prices are a lot lower owing in part to Argentina’s economic inflation (40% this year) and a hard currency debacle (black market dollars are trading at twice the official rate) brought on by repeated credit defaults and a variety of other economic mistakes.
There are a series of paths and trains one can take, each ending in a different view of the waterfalls. At first it’s a bit confusing but for the most part they are enjoyable walks. The metal paths suspended over the cliffs are treacherously slippery in the constant light rain.
We brought hiking shoes, but didn’t bring ponchos on this trip. I always forget something. (I did remember the first aid kit – Lily gets a blister and needs a moleskin after an hour of walking. She was happy with me.) Lily spots a lizard over the side of the railing, sunning.
It’s just waterfall vista after waterfall vista. We break into song: ‘Waterfall overload’ to the Parry Gripp tune “Cute Overload” . It’s kind of overwhelming. I remember seeing hieroglyphics for the first time in a tomb in Luxor and was dazzled. Then just a day later, I was walking by them mindlessly wondering what I was going to have for lunch that day. The mind can only absorb so much…
And is it dazzling, waterfall after waterfall. They have done a nice job creating trails and viewpoints. The only one we have left is the big viewpoint at the edge of the Gargantua Diablo! The Devil’s Tongue, where most of the water pours into a cauldron, the bottom of which one can not see above the spray. It’ll be the highlight and the end of our day.
There are little stores along the way, and at the first one we bought ice cream and coffee for me. I placed the coffee down briefly to add some sugar (it’s pretty crappy coffee) and a Quati grabbed the sugar from my hand, frightening the shit out of me. It even placed it’s hand on my coffee cup, but let it be. It knew it wanted the sugar.
More Quatis came after us and we ran! Up the trail a bit they peeled off and returned to the cafe zone where pickin’s were easier. We ate our snacks in relative peace at the side of the trail. It was kind of hilarious seeing a grown man and two kids running away like it was a fucking Black bear after us. But they put up all these signs around that say Quatis bite and make you bleed!
Farther up the trail, after another packed train ride, we hit another cafe, and this one has no Quatis. But it has dozens of butterflies. I spend a few minutes taking a boatload of pictures. The yellow butterflies are completely unafraid. Kids are picking them up and holding them.
But Lily is FREAKED OUT when I get back. They are flying all over the place and she is in a panicked place. Sadly, I don’t produce my best parenting. Her irrational panic attacks can come at hard times. “Lily get in the cafe till you calm down” I yell, annoyed that she is just frozen with panic.
Yeah, I regret that, and I apologized profusely when she comes out. “I should be more patient, Lily, I’m sorry. I know you can’t control it.” She says it’s okay, and we hold hands.
The walk out to the final waterfall is long and pleasant. It’s still drizzling, and we are definitely damp, but happy to be out after the two days off. “Crackle, Boom” goes some lightning and thunder in the distance. We talk about where Iguazu fits on our top 25 list of global adventure sites, and it’s somewhere in the middle. (Someday I will publish that list.)
And we talk about future travel plans. We know we are going to Turkey for Spring break, and Indonesia for summer. Both of those should be excellent. But after that it’s wide open. India/Nepal and Australia/New Zealand top our lists, but they are all difficult for one reason or another.
As we approach the final platform, the rain starts to pour. It’s warm. Kinda nice. And then it gets heavier. And colder. And heavier, and freezing. And all of the sudden we are in a torrential downpour the likes one only sees for a few minutes at a time in the mid-Atlantic during the summer evenings. We have absolutely no shelter whatsoever, we are completely exposed.
The waterfall is amazing, but we are focused on the water falling on us. At first it’s frustrating, then we laugh, then it get frustrating again when we slosh in our boots. My money and passport get soaked. Luckily my camera gets only a spray beneath two layers of protection. It’s a complete drenching.
The walk back and the train ride back take forever, and the rain doesn’t stop. We finally find a place to sit down and grab a cup of hot coffee right before the power goes out in the whole national park. Lily grabs a chicken empanada instead of coffee and likes it.
It costs twice as much to get home in a taxi cab as it was to get there – I guess they know we are stuck an desperate. At the hotel we strip our stuff, squeeze it out and take hot showers.
We were in intense rain in Paris and Mexico, but this was the heaviest ever. Our boots won’t dry out till we get home, I’m sure of it. But we’ll live! We survived a Quati attack and some rain because we are badasses.