Extremes of Temperateness

We left Posadas and headed up towards Iguazu Falls.  A few km out of Posadas, we stopped and checked out the World Heritage Jesuit Ruins on the Argentine side.  They are not nearly as well-restored as the Paraguay ruins.  But two of them, Santa Ana and Loreto, supplied guides who were both quite knowledgeable and enthusiastic.  Loreto in particular looked like it had hardly been excavated at all — it was basically several labeled rocks in the jungle.  Fortunately the guide was as familiar with facts of the jungle (names of butterflies and plants) as with the facts of the ruins, and as a bonus she spoke fairly good English.

As we continued to drive in Misiones province, the countryside got much more intensively green.  Whenever we crossed something called an “arroyo” (creek), it had tons of water in it.  (Elsewhere even a “rio” might be dry.)  There were people selling pineapples and mangos everywhere.

We got to Puerto Iguazu, and considered what to do the following day.  We’d been told, by the guidebook and by the German tourists who’d done this a few days earlier, that Brazil lets you not get off the bus at customs, in effect not officially entering the country, as long as you aren’t spending the night or going further than necessary to see the falls.  But the lady at the hotel evangelized the Argentine side.  Since we only had one day anyway, we just went there.

There is basically no good place to see Iguazu Falls.  On the Argentine side, you can get right next to every part of the falls, but you can’t get a “big picture”.  From Brazil, and perhaps from the Sheraton in the Argentina park, there’s an island blocking part of the falls.  (There are good views of parts of the falls from the island).  The place you could see the whole thing is most likely in a helicopter, which would be exciting, but the natural sound of the falls would be completely obscured by the blades.

Another disappointment was that the “nature trail” was closed for maintenance.  We found another road and walked around on it for awhile, but didn’t see much nature (we did see some deer and jaguar prints, and a couple birds).  We saw some nature while walking around to see the falls:  a toucan flying in the parking lot, several dozen coati asking for handouts (and others just doing their business gathering food in the forest naturally — one would climb up a tree and shake, and several others would eat what fell).  Coati are basically jungle raccoons.  There were also a few groups of plush-crested jays, which have dramatic light blue eyebrows, but like jays everywhere are basically trash birds.  There were also a few lizards, a cuis which is basically a tailless rat, and some tortoises in the water.

We realized that on this trip we have traveled from just above the Antarctic Circle to just below the Tropic of Capricorn.  But it was time to head back towards Buenos Aires and then home.

We retraced our route for about 500 km, and then continued down Ruta 14.  For about the next 400 km, they’re turning it into a four-lane road, though almost none of it is yet.  Fortunately, there were few construction-related dirt stretches.  We stopped in Concordia, where we had kind of a hard time finding a hotel — perhaps lots of porteños (people from Buenos Aires) were stopping there on the way up to the falls for the weekend).  The next day we visited Parque National El Palmar, which had an original small forest of palm trees, and made it back to Buenos Aires where we returned the car.  I think it will benefit from an oil change and a wheel alignment, after our 7000 miles in seven weeks.

The Internet pointed out some good places to eat, and one that looked good, Pura Tierra, accepted our reservation.  It was Valentine’s Day, so there was a set menu.  But everything we had was wonderful (and somewhat sweet to fit the day).