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Travel Highlights 9: Iguassu Falls Day 1

September 20th, 2007

The word for falls in Spanish (now that we are in Argentina) is “Cataratas”, a sound which bounces around the mouth like bumping down a watery canyon in a rubber tire. I use any opportunity to say “cataratas”, which causes pleasant, bubbly feelings in my belly. Even more pleasant, however, are the actual “Cataratas de Iguazu”; a paradise of tropical vegetation, brilliant flora, dominant powerful falls and pretty small and medium falls separated by moist green islands.

The cataratas in Argentina are surrounded and facilitated by a well planned national park. Steel catwalks, firmly embedded into river rock, lead across rivers and perch precrariously over the edge of falls. Stone walkways on the blade of forested cliffs lend the park a wild, untamed atmosphere. There is none of Niagara’s touristy exploitation here, but simply nature and extraordinary geography. The hundreds of separate falls which make up the total of Iguassu Falls are of remarkable variety. There are mighty, forceful falls with a strong convergence of sound akin to thunder, trains and rushing wind. There are luxuriously steamy falls, boldly exotic falls, scraggly stream-like falls and more and more. James and I walk the trails and catwalks for hours, explore the corners and nooks of this pretty park, and gulp down each stunning new view, like famished people at an all-you-can-eat buffet.

We take a boat ride beyond the mist of the falls, into the spray. This ride is no tame “Maid of the Mist” with octogenarians wielding cameras like champagne glasses. Here we, excited and nervous, are taken to the water’s massive eddies and swirls. The boat forces itself further into the turbulence, until waves crash over the boat’s edge, and soak everyone inside as they scream and holler. People leave the boat as if having swum in their clothes. (Except for me. I had a head to ankle plastic rain slicker complete with protective hoodie, which prevented me from getting all but a few wet patches.)

All in all, a fabulous day.

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