19 October 2008 – day 17 - Sunday

Today we got up early and caught a flight from Buenos Aires Argentina to Iguazu Argentina, which is where world-famous Iguazu falls is located.

At the airport we met our local guide, a man named Batista.

He is from Brazil and he told us a bit about his country. Apparently they speak Portuguese. I've never been to Portugal but to me Batista's accent sounds exactly like he is from Holland. For example, he would point and say “Right over dare.” He even looks like a Dutchman if you ask me. He seems like a nice guy.

The weather is hot, humid and sunny. It was still early enough in the Spring so that it wasn't uncomfortable though. I donned my lightest T-shirt and shorts and tried to remind myself that I had been in an ice-cutter boat plowing through ice fields just a few days ago. And when I return to Minnesota a few days from now, it will be cold again. With the proper mental conditioning, I enjoyed the heat, and so did Nelson, our OAT guide.

Our first order of business was to go directly to the Iguazu Falls national park.

The river apparently divides Argentina from Brazil, so today we saw the Argentinian side of the falls.

After we entered the park, we noticed Guinea Pigs running around wild.

The next step was to get aboard a small open-air train that took us to one of the paths.

As we waited to transfer to another train, a strange looking animal walked into the area and started foraging through the garbage containers. It acted like a very brave raccoon, but it was much bigger. It had a ringed tail, but a much longer body. Batista told us it was called a coati and he said we'd see more of them tomorrow.

Batista told us a bit about the falls. He said that there is somewhere between 400000 and 500000 gallons of water going over the falls every single second! It boggles the mind. There are between 150 to 175 waterfalls in the area, depending on how much water is flowing.

There were thousands of butterflies everywhere. They varied in size, shape and color. They fluttered about in all directions. Some of them chased others, creating a spiraling tornado of wings. It was very cool.

To get to the first of the falls, we had to walk a very long steel pathway that led us over what seemed like dozens of tributaries to the main river. So we crossed metal bridge after metal bridge.

Some of these tributaries were quite scenic in themselves. Finally we got to the first and biggest of the falls, which is nicknamed “The Devil's Throat.”

It was absolutely stunning. The beauty was incredible. Breathtaking. I can't find enough adjectives in my vocabulary to describe it.

Eventually we walked back and took another train ride to another area of the falls. The nice thing is that we were literally right on top of the falls, so the view is just incredible. We took hundreds of photos.

Many of my photos were of Kathy because she was grinning from ear to ear and often wet from the spray of the falls.

She took some of me too. We had brought big plastic bags to protect our cameras from the spray.

We also got Nelson to take our photo in front of one of the falls.

There were a lot of people in the park and sometimes it was hard to get a clean shot of the falls without the heads of visitors in the way, but the beauty of the place made it easy to overlook the crowds. There were also birds in the trees,

fish in the water, an occasional cormorant fishing and even an occasional iguana walking around.

The entire group walked from overlook to overlook, amazed at how beautiful it was. It was incredible. We were right on top of the waterfalls. It was so beautiful, we took hundreds of photos. A combined 555 photos, and that's just the Argentinian side of the falls!

In many cases the falls had huge amounts of spray. That had two pleasant side-effects. The first side-effect was the beautiful rainbows that were visible everywhere.

The second side-effect was the women with wet T-shirts that were visible everywhere. I really love this place!

At night, we took another optional tour. This was a cultural show that included dinner. It featured lots of scantily-clad curvy women with wild costumes

and Las Vegas-style feathers. Before the show, everyone in the group got to take a posed photo with one of the dancers.

Oh, I suppose there were some men on stage too, but I guess I wasn't looking at them!

The show was very good and the energy was non-stop.

My only complaint is that our food arrived late so we had to choose between focusing on our food or the show. The show came with two free drinks, but the second drink—I just wanted water—was just about impossible to acquire.

At one point in the show, members of the audience were brought up on stage to dance. It was a riot. No, thankfully, I was not one.

We're staying at a beautiful five-star hotel called the “Bourbon Cataratas”. It is way over the top. The hotel is big, beautiful and full-featured. It has a big swimming pool,

tennis courts, private jungle with exotic plants

and fruits,

private vegetable garden, even its own private exotic animal zoo. I wish that OAT had booked a cheaper hotel and charged me less money. But I am enjoying it.