Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Brazil: Fun times at the Foz

Wheeeeeeeeeeeeee, the big reunion with Kristina! And in Brazil, no less! But first, a brief word about our bus. We were a bit wary about another 20 hour bus ride, as African buses often left a lot to be desired. But this was an otherworldly experience. We`re talking 5-star luxury where the seats reclined completely, there was free champagne and whiskey, and we watched a Woody Allen movie and an independent film from Australia. It was far more comfortable than most hotels we`ve stayed in. Via Bariloche, we`ll go anywhere with you.

And even better, Via Bariloche whisked us off to Iguazu falls to meet up with our favorite and long-awaited globetrotter. We toasted the beginning of our Brazilian adventure with the appropriately named Malzbier; sweet, dark, goodness kept ICY cold thanks to Brazil`s love of the beer coozy. Eric was in appreciative awe of Brazil`s obsession with ice-cold beer---all beer fridges had digital readouts of their temperature and even in the hottest, sweatiest parts of town, a frosty one was easily had.

It´s impossible to describe the visual impact of Iguazu Falls. Despite all the guidebook gushing, they don`t disappoint. They truly are that big, that beautiful, and that awe-inspiring. And we highly recommend viewing them from the extremely wet seat of a zodiac boat or the cozy confines of a wooden barrel. But triple-bag your camera, as Kristina`s suffered in the falls, and we all suffered for her halted photographic talents. Grrrr.

Iguazu Falls are actually close to 300 seperate falls plummeting across the Brazil/Argentina border, and it`s worth spending the time to view them from both countries. They are higher than Niagara Falls, wider than Victoria Falls, and more spectacular than any we`ve ever seen in our lives. If you`ve seen the movie The Mission, you`ll recognize them. No amount of gawking tourists can diminsh the visual impact of that much thundering water. And even the steel catwalks do little to diminsh the feeling of natural beauty; instead, you can admire them from nearly every angle. When you approach the Garganta do Diablo (Devil`s throat), the mist is so thick you can no longer even really see the falls.

Their grandeur is such that they inspired Eric and Kristina to fall in love, it seems. Hee hee. It was a magical land of rainbows and caimans and toucans and enormous lizard things that hung out poolside in fancy hotels. So glorious! Everything`s bigger in Iguazu Falls, including the grocery store fruit!

On the furry end of the food chain, the somewhat lovable but also rather aggressive coatis took a particular shine to Miss Malsy. She seemed worn out by constantly having to fend them off. But I don`t know what we would have done without her valiant efforts.

We also learned a very valuable lesson in Iguazu Falls about ordering food in Brazil---most portions are designed for two or three people. Of course they don`t tell you this when you sit down and order enough for a family of 12, and I`m sure they snicker in the kitchen at your request. We were happily (slightly) less gluttonous once we discovered our error. And if nothing else, our dinner bill went down considerably. Hallelujah.

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