Walden World

The wacky and wonderful tales of Beth's and Catherine's global adventures. And all things Walden too.

Sunday, February 20, 2011


I was a bit wary about treading all the way up to the borders of Brazil and Paraguay to see Iguazu Falls. While everyone who knew Iguazu would tell you to go there, the Moon Guide warned that the Argentinians had turned it into Disneyland. Thus I was worried we were looking at Niagara Falls: a wonder ruined by the Barrel Ride and a Wax Museum. But I was wrong.

Iguazu Falls are a series of massive waterfalls kilometres long formed in a huge horseshoe bordering Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay. In the 1600s Jesuit Missionaries set out to convert some 100,000 Guarani native people to the ways of the Blessed Church and created some huge sorts of eco-communist farms where the Guarani divided the wealth.

The film 'The Mission' with Robert De Niro and Jeremy Irons depicted the expulsion of the Jesuits by the King of Spain in the 1700s and the dissolution of the Missions. This led to the Guarani Rebellion which ended with the enslavement of the Guarani. When I first saw the film (another story - in 1987 when I was in Bombay: after the initial scene where the Guarani nail a priest to a cross and send him packing over the Iguazu Falls the entire audience stood up and did a standing ovation) I frankly wondered about the historical accuracy of the film.

Turns out the Jesuits were quite socialist for a brief time and according to the guidebooks, the film is pretty much on the money.

The falls are absolutely breathtaking. The Brazilians in their park, have constructed an engineering marvel: long metal catwalks allow you to walk along and underneath the falls. There you are, on the edge of the chasm of what is akin to Niagara Falls or at the bottom of some larger cascade getting soaking wet when the wind changes and plumes of mist blasted from the falls blow over you. It´s like being out on the deck of a ship during a storm.

A fabulous day for a shower. It is blazing hot in the rain forest and all that river water, slightly cool to the body, is exactly what you need.

The next day we are off to the Argentine side where lies the falls known as the Mouth of the Devil. There the gangways lie over the river and end at the very edge a few feet over where the largest cascade falls.

C tells me to take pictures standing at the edge of between life and a magnificent plummet.

To end our day, we spend some extra cash to do a strange 'Grand Trek': they take you in a giant, Jurrasic Park jeep 'off-roading' through the forest down to boats along the river shore. There they give you waterproof bags to store all your stuff in, very large life preservers and then race you down the canyon of the river, to drive directly into the base of about 7 different falls, doing donuts underneath while thousands of litres of water pour down on you each second.

After a sound and thorough soaking, you disembark and clamber up a rock trail alongside the path of the many falls.

It was changing then, from my bathing suit to my shorts, that I realize our digital camera with all our photos of puppy Alice, now a teen, taken religiously from the time she was first adopted, to when we left for Argentina, has been stolen.

Beware photo taking of Cappuchian monkeys eating passion fruit in the trees: it causes others to covet that which is not theirs.


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