Chris' 1994  R100GS/PDChris' new bike, a 1996 F650ULTIMATE JOURNEY Erin's 1997  F650
Living a Dream . . . 2 Live-N-Ride

Nov 30, 2001

Credit to do IGUAÇU

-- Story by Chris --

Sunday, Nov 25th: Bid farewell to Anne and Jason, and headed west towards the Foz do Iguaçu. The generosity of Brazilians never ceases to amaze me! After filling up both bikes with petrol, the station owner gave us a couple of pens, caps, stickers, and key chains – just to remember his place! A customer that we spent all of 5 minutes chatting with told us we were foolish to ride another 180kms (it was 4pm) to bed down for the night – that we should come stay at his place instead!

We did continue on, and stopped after 565kms in the small city of Palmas. We checked into a Pousada (hotel), and went down the street to the gas station/restaurant for dinner. Upon our arrival back at the hotel, a journalist and photographer were present to interview us for the local paper. We were impressed, and a little startled – we were planning on a nice quiet night back in our room, but the staff was just too kind. The interview lasted about 30 minutes, after which we posed with many different employees who wanted personal photos with us. The funniest thing, to me, is that the interview was conducted entirely in Spanish (what little both sides spoke), and would later be translated to Portuguese. I asked the editor to forward a copy of the photos/article back to the states for our collection.

Mon, Nov 26th: Arrived at the Foz, and checked into the YHA. Went to the 3 points (the confluence of the Paraná River and the Iguaçu Rivers and where Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay meet). After a brief stop in the souvenir shop (to cool off in the air-conditioning), we headed back to the parking lot, and were stopped by a policeman who was questioning our unusual license plate with no numbers. I panicked at first when I realized our passports and all the m/c paperwork were on the other bike. I thought we would get stuck paying a penalty (bribe) for our mistake. A bit of quick talking about how easy custom plates are to get in the states, how since the bike was not permanently imported we were exempt from certain local laws, followed by a quick summary of our trip, and our potential problem was rapidly forgotten. A few minutes later another policeman on a little 125cc bike pulled up, and while we were all chatting, the first cop emptied the bullets from his revolver and gave both the gun and the ammunition to the m/c cop. His shift was over, and it was time to hand in his weapon before he headed home!

Tue, Nov 27th: Woke up late due to rainy morning. Thunder and lightening all night, poured rain. When the sky cleared in the early afternoon we went to the Itaipu Dam to take one of their "Visitor" tours -- Very impressive place. The idea for the dam was conceived in 1966 as a joint venture between Brazil and Paraguay.   Construction began in 1972 and was completed in 1985.  During construction, there were 32,000 workers on the site working 24 hrs/7 days per week.  The dam provides all the electricity requirements for Paraguay (using only 5% of the dams capacity), and 25% of Brazil's requirements (Brazil is only slightly smaller in size than the USA). 

The visitor’s center is a modern, efficient setup. Everything about the tour is free – we suspect a public relations scheme to shift the focus away from the environmental problems of dams in general, or maybe they are just so proud of the project they want to tell the whole world. Could be a little bit of both. Anyway, first off they show a video in English, Spanish or Portuguese (take your pick), then they load you onto their buses which take you on a ride onto the dam. There is a Spanish and English language audiotape explaining all sorts of facts about the dam, like it’s the biggest in the world, the steel used to reinforce the dam could make 350 Eiffel Towers, etc. It truly is a huge thing to see and they boast about it being one of the 7 man-made wonders of the world. We got back to the hostel, took a leisurely swim, and joined the boys for some international 5 vs 5 soccer. I even scored a few goals against players with better skill – the trick I found was to loiter near the goal, and eventually the ball would ricochet of me and go into the goal!

Wed, Nov 28th: Spent the morning on the Brazilian side of the Iguaçu Falls – truly a spectacular site. These falls simply blow away any other falls I've ever seen (including Niagra which is somewhat impressive).  We arrived at the park entrance, parked the bike, paid our R$8 (US$2.40)/pp, and boarded the double decker bus for the 5km ride to the falls (private road). We were unloaded near the bottom/eastern end of the falls, and followed the trail for 1,200 meters to the end. The walk took us about an hour, as we stopped continually to stare in fascination at the rush of water as it cascaded down and pummeled the rocks below. There were occasional clouds of mist, accompanied by numerous rainbows that stretched across the expanse of the river. But nature’s beauty didn’t end there, we saw hundreds of brightly colored butterflies, many types of birds, Iguanas, and families of raccoons! Tomorrow we go to the Argentinean side, which is reputed to be more fantastic, though we seriously can’t imagine it being any better than what we saw today J

Thurs, Nov 29th: Well, came back from the Argentine side of the falls, and spectacular it was! (My) words fail to adequately describe it, you just have to come check it out for yourself -- seriously! We were soo close to the falls, both above and below, that we were drenched from head to toe for most of the day. Even had trouble taking photos as the mist kept covering the lens, creating spots on our pictures. We were with 4 other travellers, who are also staying at the YHA and who we’ve gotten to be friendly with over the past 4 days: Magdalena and Eva from Germany, and Namen and Tal from Israel. As we were walking through the last stretch of rain forest, the sky turned dangerously dark and began to clap with venomous thunder. Moments later the sky opened up and we felt like we were standing directly under the falls. The wind howled and the sky released its tremendous power for a good 45 minutes. As we were already wet, it was no big deal, but we headed back to the car park just the same. By the time we reached Erin’s bike (We brought only one bike), the sky was clearing and the sun was poking through the cracks in the clouds.

That was the good news – the bad news was that as we approached the bike, 4 park officials were walking away from it – Apparently the wind had been so strong it blew the bike over in the gravel lot. They had kindly picked it up out of the red dirt/gravel, apologizing for the amount of fuel that had been lost. We wiped off the mud, changed into dry clothes, crossed back into Brazil, and returned to the YHA to find the staff rush up and apologize to us – the wind from the storm had blown MY bike off the center stand in their lot, spilling petrol everywhere, before they managed to hoist it back up. WOW, huh?!? The day started out with spectacular views, and ended with unusual drama. We made a group dinner and spent the night recapping on the joys of the day. It’s nice to be in a place with other travellers, sharing stories, suggestions, and companionship with like-minded people.


Arial view of the Itaipu Dam -- Stretching across 8kms!

Our first view of the falls -- From Brazil

A little further up the trail, and the falls progress with us

Until we can finally see the end in the distance

Getting close to the Devil's Throat

The Devil's Throat from below

Up close in Argentina

Approaching by boat

Hanging out at the YHA


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