Saturday, April 12, 2008
When we got up, there was not the rain that we had heard we should be expecting. It was overcast, but there was no rain and no ominous looking clouds. We had breakfast, then went to wait for Anibal at 8am. He was not there, however, and we waited for 8:30. At 8:30 we just went walking on our own, seeing much of the same stuff as before but with less people and with more comfortable weather. We also saw a couple of new things, including a toco toucan and a southern lapwing (vanellus chilensis). We saw some dark clouds approaching, however, and conservatively decided to scoot back to the hotel and watch the falls from there.
At the hotel, there still was no Anibal. We decided the strike was a big black cloud hanging over the day and making us antsy, so we determined we would pack up and be ready to go to Brazil at a moment's notice. We checked out some of the hotels across the border, so that the next morning there would be no issue with missing our flight (and thus our connection to Campo Grande). We spoke to someone at Lihue (the company in charge of us in Argentina), and they said the strike was no longer going on and that Anibal would be here in 20 minutes.
Anibal was actually at the hotel 20 minutes later, but told us the strike was still going on, and that there was no way to go to Brazil. We told him we were getting to Brazil, one way or another, and that Lihue had said this was okay. This was news to him, because no one at Lihue had actually spoken to his company. In short, it was a mess. Fortunately, it was absolutely pouring rain, so we weren't missing anything. Anibal told us that he would try to clear it up, and that we could just hang out in our room in the meantime.
Just before noon we found out our plan was fine, we'd just have to pay for our new room, which was well worth the peace of mind. We ate, then went to go check out the strike on our way to Brazil. Our driver drove up to the front of the line, passing on the left, which seemed unsafe but for the fact no one was driving on the road. We watched it for about 90 minutes, while listening to it on the radio (they were supposedly negotiating a peace).
It was painful just sitting there, but very interesting to us since we never see anything like this in the US. People were just lined up across the street, several people deep, with flags and other banners stretched across. It was pouring rain, harder than either of us can ever remember, to the point it looked like a waterfall (imagine that) rather than rain - i.e. it looked like a continuous stream of water.
Coincidentally, the rain let up when the strike separated, and we drove down to our new hotel, the Iguazu Grand Hotel and Casino, right on the Argentina-Brazil border. We got checked in, grabbed a couple quick items, then headed back down to the car. From there we drove across the border, went through immigration, and headed to the Brazilian National Park. At the Argentina-Brazil border (the river), you are only 3 kilometers upstream from Paraguay, which seems to have gotten a raw deal on tourism in the area by nature of being so close, yet so far away.
There were many more people in the park on the Brazilian side - probably the effect of the strike on the Argentina side - and getting as many quality photos and videos was tough. On the drive up from the park, there was a recording telling us about the park. The last part lost a little in the translation: "Several of the animals here bite, and some can be aggressive around food. Some of these animals have diseases, such as rabies. Enjoy your trip." The end. Right after entering the park, we did see a Coati (a raccoon relative) take food out of a ladies backpack.
It was nice to see the falls from both sides, and the Brazilian side definitely added some perspective. There were some parts of the falls we had not seen the day before, including one part where they were stair-stepped, with the lower falls being called the Three Musketeers. We could also make out the horseshoe shape of the falls much easier, although it was tough to see because of the mist. We got out of the park just as it was getting dark and just as it looked like it was going to downpour again. As it turned out, it started raining about 15 seconds after we got into our car.
We drove back across the border, went back to our (new) hotel, and repacked everything that had been so hastily packed this morning. We also backed up everything onto the computer and onto the Epson, figuring the odds were good that there would not be much "civilization" in the Pantanal. We tried to get cash, to no avail, since now the ATM was broken. This gave us flashbacks to Rwanda the year before. This was the only ATM in the complex - nevermind that this was a casino - so we determined we would have to dip into our tip money if worst came to worst the following morning. We got dinner, which was very good, and charged it to our credit card - not our room. We got to sleep early, knowing we would be up early in the morning.