Iguazú Falls, Misiones

W

hen Earth gave birth to her most beautiful children, her amniotic fluid must have broken on this very spot. How else could these South American cascades, one of the biggest in the world, so vociferously draw attention to themselves even at the distance of 25 kilometres?

According to the Guarani tribe “Yguasu” means “big water”. The Iguazú Falls on the confluence of the rivers Paraná and Iguazú are definitely giant. The Falls are set on a frontier between Argentina and Brazil. When two mighty rivers of such magnitude join their anger, you can hear the seductive cry of the malevolent illusion of a fairy beckoning you to follow her to the charcoal-coloured rock, lined with velvet moss, right below the thundering teardrop of the Falls, dipping down to the pleasurable foam. 

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We set off to a day hike across the Argentinean side at 35 degrees Celsius. Deep wounds were spurting white rabid foam where the water had left the deepest flogging scars. We followed our tour guide and in-between some chitter-chatter we were informed with statistical figures such as the one revealing that around 150,000 litres of water tumble down the cliffs in one second. Wide-eyed visitors were taking in the invitingly fabulous fairytale, that the 70 metre tall precipice was created by a local God, enraged because a beautiful local girl refused to marry him. She tried to escape downstream in a canoe, but was swallowed by the waterfall. Every trip around here has a magical thread spun from legends.

When Earth gave birth to her most beautiful children, her amniotic fluid must have broken on this very spot. How else could these South American cascades extraordinaire, one of the biggest in the world, so vociferously draw attention to themselves even at a distance of 25 kilometres?

The most stunning champagnelike cascades have their own names, such as Garganta del Diablo (Devil’s Throat), Salto Dos Hermanas (Two Sisters), Salto Bossetti etc. The boats embark tourists on the docile stretch of the river before they dart for the wrath of the drums. A growling motor propels of the boat, we have embarked were speed toward the magnificent gaping chasm. Resembling a seagull’s feather in a storm the boat running at full throttle was hitting the giant’s roaring throat, shrouded by a thick cloud. Nobody heard me when I burst into an uninhibited screaming.

To see the waterfalls from the other side, you have to cross the border to Brazil. Over on the Brazilian side I stood before an official who appeared in no hurry while inspecting this unfamiliar burgundy passport. Our guide 'Marc Anthony', born in Argentina, was whispering jokingly that perhaps I will have to fill in a survey which football player I prefer: Maradona or Pelé. Heaven forbid if I go for the former.

We took a 30-minute helicopter flight over the frothy “toilet bowl” and I was relieved to see the flight coordinator waving at us, his headset down, to approach the helipad. The chopper took off and the feeling made my head spin. I found it much more dynamic than in a plane. I manoeuvred my camera trying to take pictures over two German tourists who occupied the window seats and deprived me of the basic viewing pleasure. I fell back into the seat and made out a gap between the front seats, from where we admired the magnificent view.

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While there are more than 250 waterfalls on the Argentinean side, there are far fewer on the Brazilian side. I snap out of my thoughts as the propeller sways violently over the devil’s funnel. It is said the noise levels by Diablo match a Boeing 747 at take off.

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The distinctly Indian side profile of a Guarani tribe member’s furrowed face caught my eye. The Inca man behind the table had wooden bracelets and necklaces in cheerful colours and patterns dangling down his elbows. I stretched my arm in his direction to look at an olive-coloured bead necklace.

Suddenly, the tranquil, balmy evening outside of the Il Fratello restaurant in Puerto Iguazú, where we enjoyed a beef steak in black pepper sauce, grew a suspiciously voracious appetite in a few powerful gusts of a hurricane-like wind. Motioning his hand up toward the sky, the waiter discretely said: 'It is coming'. In a matter of minutes, the tall dustwhirls all around us turned into a cloak of rain illuminated by the sizzling lighting discharging high tension, and without missing a beat turning the moon into an indigo sun. The clouds, harmless earlier, were bursting open on the horizon along the whole stretch of the Paraná, which was lit up by the celestial light show. The taxi driver drove us from the restaurant to our hotel. Next day, the anaemic morning had to digest the litter mixed with palm leaves scattered on the streets.

The sky was still turbulent and our return flight to Buenos Aires was scheduled in the next few minutes. We raced the clock to catch our next flight for San Juan. Time was not on our side, but we somehow managed to beat the clock and board the silver eagle on time. Outside heavy rain and lighting persisted. Awaiting takeoff clearance night fell over the land.

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