Ilha do Mel and Iguacu Falls
04.05.2011 - 09.05.2011 25 °C
So we have left the paradise of Ilha do Mel now and we spent our last couple of days there walking round the island to the Farol das Conchas (lighthouse) and the Fort. On our last day we missed the boat back from Brasilia to Encatadas, where we were staying, so instead decided to set ourselves a time challenge of covering the 5km route as quickly as we could in plus 30 degrees heat. I did some pretty good coasteering in my bikini and birkenstocks followed by some sprinting along the beach. As you can imagine we were both pretty tired when we got back to the hostel.
The meal that was to follow my last blog did not quite go to plan as I had had a few too many caipirinhas and dropped our key between the decking at the front of the hostel. Luckily the tide was out so the key was not instantly washed away and we fashioned some kind of hook from a wire so we could reach the key while two people from the hostel assisted with a torch. I say "we" rescued the key but really I mean Stew as I wasn't of much help after the amazing limy Brazilian cocktail. We were therefore late for the restaurant but as soon as we opened a menu we realised it wasn't quite in our budget- £20 each for an entree. I guess they have a captured clientele on the island but we decided best to be honest and say that we couldn't really afford it, I pretended to feel ill and we regrouped in the supermarket to buy some nice steak for about £4. My moment left unattended sautéing the potatoes however was probably not a good idea as Stew realised when he became aware of the smell of burning tea towel, ( I can't cook at the best of times)!
The trip from Ilha do Mel to Foz do Iguacu was long and tiring but we did manage to cram in a few different types of transportation- boat/ bus/ coach/ train. The highlight had to be the train journey from Morrettes to Curitiba on the Serra Verde Express. Incredibly scenic with lush forest, mountains and close up views of the landslides that had occured in March from flooding, they also had the best honey roasted nuts I have ever tasted! A Brazilian tutor of English, that we met on the bus, explained that in one of the villages that he knows only 2 of the houses are left out of the 80 that were standing pre-flood. It seems that any Brazilian that actually speaks English jumps at the chance to talk to us and ask for clarification of English words. Defining English words is an activity in a language I can actually help with.
From getting off the night bus in Foz do Iguacu we made the underestimated walk to the hostel at 6 am, a nice 5 km walk with your rucksack to start the day. It was then straight out to the Iguassu Falls, the Brazilian side. The 1200m walk to the Devil's Throat was stunning, giving you a glimpse of the 275 waterfalls in the area, only intercepted by the rainbows due to the sunny morning. We then decided to finish the day with what should have been some light rafting down the Rio Iguacu. That was however until the water became white and the raft that Stew and I were in became the 5th in 2 years to completely flip over in the rapids. I put the helmet to good use as I catapulted over stew from the side of the raft that was fully in the air, and then got trapped under it. Yes not being able to breathe while the other 4 in the boat are also grabbing you and keeping you under water is bad, but for me the worst bit was being the last person left in the water and the whirl pools that the rapids create being strong enough that your life jacket doesn't keep your head above the water. We were all a bit shaken when we got back into the raft but it was relatively calm and there was a nice little swimming hole in which we could get pur breath back. I dont think they were quite prepared for the boat to flip but you would have thought they would have had a few more precautions in place seeing as 2 Americans died at the Falls on a boat trip a couple of months ago.
That evening we put our body under a bit of pressure again with a Brazilian Buffet BBQ. The most steak I have ever had in one sitting, accompanied by some very off putting chicken hearts that you could see the arteries, but the most delicious roasted pineapple that I could eat until I burst. We were therefore fully revitalised the next day to go to the Iguassu Falls again, the Argentinian side. On the Argentinian sound it felt that we got a bit more up close and personal with the falls, you could really feel the power of the water that is quite obvious when there is 1500 cubic meters of water passing through an area each second. We also had a tour guide for the Argentinian side that we shared with two other English girls at the start but when they went to do the boat ride Stew and I had our own private tour guide. It was during this trail that he shared with us that the calm part of the river that we had been swimming in after the raft had flipped had piraña in, but not to worry, they'll only go near you if you're bleeding. I didn't really check if I was bleeding after I got chucked out of the raft but I think now I can safely presume that I wasn't.
So Brazil and Argentina yesterday and we have just arrived in Paraguay today. Time to go and see some ruins.