Saturday, March 6, 2010

Iguazu Falls, take 2

I have been lugging around Lonely Planet´s 18-pound, half-rate guidebook, South America on a Shoestring, for over 3 months now. Though most days I only use it for weight training and/or imaginary target practice (seriously-- invest in Rough Guide or Time Out, but not this poorly-researched and rarely-updated junk), it does have the occasional gem. And even though I hate to do it, I am now willing to admit that this flowery snippet about Iguazu Falls, which I originally squawked at, is downright accurate:

"People who doubt the theory that 'negative ions generated by waterfalls make people happier' mights have to reconsider after visiting the Iguazu Falls. Moods just seem to improve the closer you get, until eventually people degenerate into giggling, shrieking messes...and this is grown men we are talking about."

CORRECT. I, for one, was a giggling, shrieking mess all morning long, as I finished up day two of the "Erica Does Iguazu" extravaganza.

After yesterday´s tour of both the Garganta del Diablo and the Circuito Superior, I decided to spend today visiting the Circuito Inferior and to take a boat ride under the falls. I headed over this morning with a girl I met in my hostel. (Hostel note: My hostel, called Hostel Inn, is easily one of the most attractice hostels I have ever seen, and from the outside it feels like a manicured resort with an enormous pool. But don´t be totally fooled; cheap luxury has its price. Both the food and service suck, and I have yet to find one functioning lightbulb on the entire first floor.) It was nice to finally have some company while wandering around. She hadn´t been to the falls yet, so we planned to spend the morning together and then she´d continue on while I went off to catch my bus. Over breakfast this morning I said to her, ¨I think the parts I did yesterday were probably the best parts, so I hope today is worth it. I mean, I can´t imagine seeing views that are any better than the ones I saw yesterday.¨ And now I am eating my words! Could it be that today´s were better? Or at least equally as good? How can you compare one paradise to another?

We entered the park around 9:00am this morning and headed down the stairs to the Lower Circuit... and there ahead was a view of the Salto San Miguel portion of the falls, an enormous cascading wonderland in the distance, shrouded with misty rainbows. MORE RAINBOWS! They are everywhere you turn, blooming out of each and every river and fall. I walked along, diligently taking the requisite 5 million photographs, and after a short while realized that each shot just got better and better... until the metal bridge we were walking along finally pointed us to a view more spectacular than any I have ever seen. In the distance was a horseshoe of falls so large I couldn´t believe my eyes. I snapped photos in amazement, still wondering which was better, the exciting day 1, or the equisite day 2. And that´s when it happened. I headed to the end of the path, and it dead-ended into something so fantastic I think I literally let out my first real shriek of the day-- towering above me, DIRECTLY above me, were the enormous Salto Bosseti and Salto Dos Hermanas, two massive waterfalls. The bridge (kudos to the engineers, btw) was built in such a way that you can walk nearly under the falls and get soaking wet. They loom so far above you that it is just unreal. I don´t know if I´ve ever smiled so wide in my life!!! I stood there for a long time enjoying the mist on my face, feeling completely alive.

Officially blissed out, we then headed further down the stairs for an overpriced-but-worth-it boat ride. We put on our fashion-forward life preservers and piled onto the inflatable boat with about 15 others and went jetting forward into the falls. First they bring you close to the falls so you can snap pictures. Then they tell everyone to hide their valuables (they gave each of us a super special waterproof bag for our belongings) and then they steer the boat full speed ahead under the falls, soaking us to the bone! What a rush! I was drenched, could barely open my eyes from all the water pouring down on me, and we all just screamed and laughed and enjoyed the bath. As Lonely Planet alluded, it´s impossible not to be happy with the energy of 10 billion negative ions seeping into your pores.

I look ridiculous here, so enjoy this photo at my expense:

and this one:

I´m back at the hostel, still smiling ear to ear, and planning to jump into the pool before I start my eternal bus ride to Córdoba this afternoon. I am so, so happy I came to Iguazu. I originally didn´t plan to come, as I figured I´d seen enough waterfalls in my life. But this is so much more than just a waterfall. Iguazu deserves a spot on the NEW New 7 wonders of the world list. My opinion matters, because I´ve now seen 4 of the 7 winners! (I know, brag brag.) But seriously, come on, Rio de Janeiro´s massive Jesus statue Christ the Redeemer beat out Iguazu? Yawn. Were the voters drunk?!


The Belly Dancer said...

Ive seen this in a documentary! I watched it over and over again! Wish I could be there too!