Thankfully, once we arrived, we were able to take showers, get massages and pedicures stat and park ourselves here:
Well, by 'we,' I mean me and Em. Sadly, Katie got waylaid on a different flight, and so wasn't able to join us till a bit later, but she still got there in time to enjoy some sunshine by the pool. She also had the genius idea that we should head out that night to the main fall, Garganta del Diablo (Devil's throat), for the special full moon trip that is offered followed by dinner at a nearby restaurant. We managed to get in on it last minute since a few silly people canceled.
When the sun ran out, we headed upstairs to our room for more luxurious showering (after the Lake Titicaca home-stay and a few days in the Amazon, I was beyond delighted to have a plethora of hot, gushing water indoors and fluffy white towels. It doesn't take much.) The folks who organize the tour picked us up at the hotel and took us over to the main entrance to the park. There, we got onto little passenger trains- the kind they have at Disney World - and choo choo'd off into the wilderness. The full moon was gorgeous and lit up everything around us with an incandescent glow. The air was warm, but crisp at the same time. Slowly, you could hear the sound of the approaching falls, and then we got to the end stop for the train. From there, we all headed out on foot over the bridges that take you directly over some of the falls, all the way out to this beautiful outcrop where you are completely surrounded by falling water on three sides.
I've never been to any big waterfalls before-not Victoria Falls or Niagara Falls, so this was the first time I'd ever experienced quite so much rushing water. It was exhilarating to hear the thunderous power behind all that water as it plummeted to the earth below. The spray was quite ferocious, too, and if you were adventurous enough to walk all the way out to the edge (we were), you were assured a pretty good soaking. The water was cold and stung my face it had so much force behind it.
The full moon really did illuminate everything around us with this wonderful bluish glow. I sorely wish my camera had been high tech enough to capture it, but alas, this is how all my pictures turned out:
Yeah. This is one of those things you just have to remember on your own.
Once we'd gotten fully soaked, we headed back to the train, which took us to the main center for dinner. And you know what that meant: steak. Oh yeeaahh. I'd been looking forward to having some yummy Argentine steak the whole trip, and though this place wasn't fancy, it delivered.
The next morning, we got up and hiked the lower trail, which puts you right in the line of some of the bigger falls. The theme of this part of the trip was definitely getting soaked while wearing perfectly good clothes. It was fun, though, particularly since the falls were at a higher than usual volume due to heavy rains in Brazil this year. They were so full that we weren't able to cross over to San Martin Island, so instead, we decided to go ahead and hike the upper trail. The upper trail, as you might imagine, takes you on top of and over the falls, which seems like it would be better, but I think the lower trails give you way more waterfall action. On the upper trail, you pretty much just spend a lot of time looking down.
After that, we thought we'd head to the main center and go back out to see Garganta del Diablo by daylight, but when we arrived, it was a virtual circus of tourists all crowding around what looked like an endless line to get on the train. We took one look and decided to try again later in the afternoon when the bulk of the crowds would hopefully have dissipated, or maybe have been washed away! We were, of course, famished by then, so back to the hotel we went for lunch instead.
Sitting outside for lunch felt so good that we decided to head back to the pool for a bit. Then, the sun felt so good that we decided we just might go ahead and stay out there for the rest of the afternoon. After all, we had seen the Garganta del Diablo once already.... we glanced at each other, then ordered a round of cocktails, and that was that. I fell asleep in the sun (not to worry, I had SPF 70 all over me!) and slept soundly, the roar of the falls behind me.
That night, Katie's last night, we got all dolled up in the one dress we'd each brought with us, then marched down to the dining room and were promptly seated for dinner. Again, the hotel restaurant wasn't the fanciest, most amazing culinary experience one could have, but they had an entire meat grill where you could get steak, pork chops, grilled fish, sausages of all kinds and probably other kinds of meat I can't even identify. It was, in a word, carnal. We ordered a bottle of champagne and feasted until we could feast no more. Except for dessert, that is.
Afterwards, we called it a day, rolled ourselves into bed, and got some sleep.
Early the next morning, we awoke, got dressed in our full 'going to get completely doused' gear, and walked over to hitch a ride on a jeep through the crazy jungle in order to catch what is apparently an inescapable part of visiting Iguazu Falls: the boat ride into the falls. Yes, you read that correctly. The boat takes you INTO the FALLS. And you pay money for this, too. They handed us huge life jackets and thick rubber bags for our cameras and other precious items. The three of us looked at each other with wide eyes, wondering exactly how wet this was going to be. (I was also questioning the sanity of my friends and my own faulty judgment.) The boat zoomed off down the river, over some rapids, and then there we were - the Garganta del Diablo was in front of us, and to our left were the 'lesser' falls we had explored and essentially bathed in the day before. They let us take pictures for a good ten minutes, then we were instructed to put everything away. We did. We braced ourselves, and then the driver sped us over to the left and kept going and going and going until we were under the spout of the falls, getting completely drenched and screaming like banshees.
Then he drove us out, and then did it again. And again. Then he took us back around to where we could see Garganta del Diablo and zoomed us straight into another one. I like to believe he was laughing maniacally the whole way. Finally, the boat docked on the opposite bank, and we basically swam out of the boat. I will say that my waterproof gear held up pretty well, but nonetheless, I looked like a drowned rat.
We splatted back to the hotel to get cleaned and packed up, then it was back to the airport to head to Buenos Aires!!!!!
Me vs. RA on the trip of a lifetime scorecount: 11 and 0