…or take too long in the bathroom.
Seriously. It is a truth that should be universally acknowledged.
Obviously I’m back from my promised radio silence–which wasn’t actually that radio silent, seeing as our hostel had WiFi–and with a vengeance, dishing out not one but two posts in a day. The first one, if you want to read it, is available for scrutiny here. Be warned: it involves self-psychoanalysis and sociocultural commentary.
(Or maybe I’m just saying it does, because I’m pretentious like that.)
It amazes me just how amazed I am at how long boys spend in the bathroom. I mean, I figured I’d get used to it, seeing as I went to high school with a bunch of closeted metrosexuals who would spend fifteen minutes for every five we girls spent preparing for Picture Day in the bathroom. But apparently, Picture Day is nothing on actually living with two boys for two days (and one night). While for the most part, bathroom breaks are infrequent, when they do happen…well…they really happen.
Before you call me out on the circumstances behind my observation, I have to explain that the whole living-with-boys situation was obviously in the context of my weekend at Foz do Iguaçu (What were you thinking? That I had game? HA HA HA HA HA!). We left a scarce few hours after my pre-“silence” post (“Blackmail motivation“), hopping on the 12:30am bus from Maringá to Foz do Iguaçu, which was a brief seven-hour ride through the dead of night.
Arriving at 7:30-ish AM on Friday morning, the five of us–we were joined by Aru Oliva, a Peruvian AIESECer that Klára had befriended–made our way up the unforgiving hills (seriously, I felt like I was in San Francisco or something) looking for any form of wake-me-up substance (I polished off an apple.) and a tourist information center. The search being futile and our legs being more or less exhausted, we settled for hopping on a bus straight to the National Park, bags still in tow.
We arrived at the Foz do Iguaçu National Park thirty minutes later, to the sight of some pretty seriously-looking storm clouds, and immediately went in search of a locker to stuff all our day bags in. This was definitely a wise move as if we had brought all our stuff with us, everything would have been soaked (more so than usual for a waterfall trip) as, not five minutes after we’d boarded the double-decker buses that would take us to the Waterfall Trail, it started to pour. Literally. It was like God was emptying buckets of water on all park-going humanity. Klára and I, being in possession of good common sense, decided to wait the storm out as there was no way nature could maintain that sort of torrential downpour for more than an hour and a half, tops (unless, of course, we were in the Philippines). We beat a hasty retreat for the Hotel das Cataratas, hoping for hot coffee, and Matthias eventually joined us. As for Aru and Ciarán, well–they decided to tough it out in the rain, Ciarán reasoning that he’d get wet anyway, and what if the rain didn’t clear up, we would be delaying the inevitable…etcetera.
Well the rain did clear up. So there.
Okay, so it didn’t stop completely, but an hour and a half later the watery wrath of God had been reduced to a slight drizzle, so Klára, Matthias, and I decided to brave the Waterfall Trail. The wait was definitely worth it, as the clear but cloudy sky made for an excellent light diffuser, meaning that photos took on an HD, ethereal glow.
First views of the falls from the Waterfall Trail.
We made it!
Look, a coati! These little guys can be ferocious, especially when looking for food. You wouldn’t know it though, by the looks of them.
Proof of life. If you look past my giant head, you can just see the falls.
The falls in all their glory…for now.
As you progress down the Waterfall Trail, the view gets increasingly amazing and the spray stronger and stronger, until it all culminates in a walk down a manmade platform to the center of the river, where you stand completely at the mercy of the Cataratas, in front of what is known as “The Devil’s Throat.” Basically, you get soaking wet, and, if you dare, get some amazing photos.
Look at this amazing view…
…and look who we found. Titanic: really, Ciarán? Really?
The gang’s all here!
This looks very much like the “Sound of Music” meme…:)))
I obviously risked Ed quite a bit, but he came out alive, and I even got to take more panoramic shots from a panoramic tower high above the falls, where you could see all of them in their full and perfect power.
Me, at the tippy-top of the falls.
Up close and personal with the Cataratas
After all the glory of the falls, I guess anything that came next was bound to be a letdown. We made our way next to the Tripartite Border (or “Triple Frontier”)–the promised intersection of Paraguay, Argentina, and Brazil–where we hoped to take photos doing cross-country versions of Twister. You know: head in Brazil, arms in Paraguay, legs in Argentina? Well, we could have…but that would have necessitated risking the rapids of the Paraná and Iguaçu rivers.
…That’s right. The actually border is in the freaking MIDDLE of the rivers.
Well, maybe not a complete bust. According to my mobile service provider, I did actually make it to Argentina. Somehow. And without a visa to boot! Yay!
Rain-soaked, bedraggled, and getting more than a little grumpy, the five of us made it back to the city center via bus, before taking another long (and painful, and wet) hike up through the hilly streets to find the hostel recommended to us by Amanda, the AIESECer from Foz do Iguaçu. We eventually found it, and while I would never ever attempt that hike again, Hostel SuperNova was a pleasant surprise–it was affordable, squeaky-clean, offered breakfast, and, oh yeah, it had free WiFi.
…I LOVE BRAZIL.
The catch was that the interns and I would all be sleeping in the same room, on bunk beds. Now, I haven’t been in a bunk bed since I was thirteen and attending summer camp, and I distinctly remember that back then I was more than a little afraid of heights. Still, when I spotted bunk number thirteen, I immediately seized the opportunity, even if it was a top bunk. I only get to pretend to me Catwoman once in a while anyway.
I was so exhausted that I fell asleep for an hour, after which the interns and I got a buffet dinner at the local Super Muffato (a supermarket chain), where Klára also bought some white wine. We headed back to the hostel and whiled away the evening with “I’ve Never…” and idle chatter. I won’t get into details but let’s just say that the results were…illuminating.
(Yes, that was a Darcyism. I REGRET NOTHING.)
The next day we took a trip to Itaipu Dam, which is the second largest hydroelectric powerplant/dam in the world, despite what the propaganda movie at the site told us. (Just admit the Chinese pwned you, like they pwn everything lately.) The construction of the dam was apparently quite controversial, which explained the huge PR campaign we were subjected to as part of the tour. Despite all the hype, though, it was nothing to the falls.
Itaipu Dam. Manmade, and not as pretty as the Cataratas, but still pretty cool.
From the dam, we took a bus to the city center for a buffet lunch–the restaurant at Itaipu being extremely expensive–before taking another bus to the Parque dos Aves, or the Bird Park. Take note that buses cost only three reals per trip, so the damage at this point for transpo wasn’t so bad.
Despite what the photos may lead you to believe, there were actually more birds than just toucans and parrots at the park. It’s just that those two species in particular were ridiculously photogenic. Especially the toucans: those buggers posed for photos. One or two of the small ones even let me pet them, even though according to park rules that’s strictly not allowed.
Meh, I do what I want.
SO CUTE I WANT TO DIEEEE!!!!
After the Bird Park we still had five hours until we had to catch the bus back to Maringá. With lots of time to kill and few options, we did what most tourists would do.
We crashed a wedding.
Okay, we didn’t exactly crash it, but we did sort of peek into the church while the ceremony was going on and sit outside until the bride made her big exit. It felt like a cool thing to do at the time, though mostly we just sat around and talked and snarked at each other. Well, Matthias, Ciarán, and I did. Klára and Aru went off in search of food and water.
There was a little bit of drama about the bus back to the bus station where we would catch the Maringá-bound one, but nothing a few good laughs couldn’t handle. We made it to the station in time, caught the bus back, and arrived 5AM on Sunday morning to FREEZING FREAKING COLD.
…Literally. Even the Europeans among us were shivering.
All in all, it was an awesomesauce weekend, especially given all the bonding we interns + Aru got to do. I’m deffo excited for the next installment of Project TALK: Weekend Warrior Edition. Next stop: Curitiba?