We are standing huddled together like penguins in a boat during a rainforest style rain. We have been wet for over 3 hours and there is more to come. I am so cold and miserable, pants are too cold to wear, we are in the middle of the jungle and there is no way out. All I can do is accept the situation and be grateful that I will remember this for the rest of my life with people I love.
Yesterday, Mike, Austy and I went on the ¨Full Day Brazil Adventure¨ on the Brazilian side of Iguazu falls, which included biking, kayaking, hiking, and a fast boat trip into the falls. Since the day before had been about 90 degrees, we packed ready for a day of heat, lots of water, tank tops and shorts. We took Mike´s small bag for personal items, but it wasn´t large and since we assumed they would give us plastic bags for the wet parts, it wasn´t waterproof either. We were thankful that it was overcast when we woke up at 7am for an 8am pickup because the biking was first. We thought we would escape the heat at least until the kayaking. Our pickup got to the hostel around 9:30 and we crossed the border fine, picked up some more people along the way and got to the park around 11am. We then had to pay more for entrance (we had already spent $60 per person for the day, which doesn´t sound like a lot, but is a ton down here), so we were a little irritated.
We walked along what seemed like a dock in the jungle for a little while and got to a dirt road. We were told that we couldn´t bike due to the weather. It was barely drizzling and I thought about saying something to them about being from Seattle and how this was nothing, but didn´t want to be ¨that person¨. We had the option to walk or get a ride in this open jeep and one woman was like, we might as well walk, so we all sort of followed along, even though Autsy and I are pretty much the laziest people and would have much rather been transported on beds if given the choice. It was to be about a 4.5km walk followed by a 4.5km open jeep ride, so we started walking. At about 1km it started to rain. At 1.2km it started raining hard and at about 1.5km it was a torrential downpour and I mean torrential. It was exciting at first, a nice break from all the heat and humidity we have been having down here, but the sky just kept getting darker and darker and it just kept raining hard. After a while, there was no more road, it was only 2 rivers with a small path in the middle that was extremely slippery to those of up wearing flip flops. It wasn´t so bad, you know, just the average day walking 3km in a shower, no big deal. The jeep picked us up and that was when it got worse. The rain was so strong still and we were not under any cover, so the speed of the jeep made it colder, wetter, and more painful. The worst part at this point was that we were going farther into the jungle and this was only the first activity.
We stopped at the boat port on the river, which consisted of an open air hut and some bathrooms. There was no food and no more clothes. We couldn´t just turn around and catch a cab out, we had walked and jeeped and now had to boat to our next stop. I would have to say the only reason the three of us willingly left the hut for the boat was that they told us there was food on the boat. Such a cheap trick, but it worked. We spent about 6 minutes extremely content as we ate our lunches and then proceeded to clean out everyone else´s lunch box as they passed them to the back to be thrown away. People were actually throwing away food when we were stuck in the jungle, we couldn´t have that, so we salvaged it all. We waited in our tank tops and wet shorts for the rest of the group and then took off to the kayak center. This was probably the darkest time for me, I can´t account for Autsy or Mike during this time because I was curled up in a ball shaking on my seat for the next 20 minutes. I looked up a few times when Mike pointed out a bird or something on the shore, but it was pretty bleak. We got to the kayak place and about half of the group decided to go. Not us, though afterward, we found out the water was really warm, but at this point we were almost dry and it would have made us colder to get in and out. The three of us huddled together in the middle of the boat to keep warm and it worked. Sort of. It had been 3 hours of total wetness, how warm can you really get when you know you have another 3 to go.
Another boat ride, another jeep ride and we get dropped off again at some station in the jungle and don´t know what to do. I want to point out another important detail of this day–at no point on this trip did it seem like any of our drivers or guides knew what they were supposed to do with us. It appeared to be everyone´s first day and after a constant series of walkie talkie conversations with other people, they would hastily wave us in one direction or another. The communication was not stellar and there were people speaking their second or third language to others also speaking their non-native language. We were waved onto a bus by our second guide, which I am still not totally sure was the right bus, but we followed our group to the falls to walk on the path to see the falls. It was about 4:30pm and it was the first time we actually saw the falls. I still wore no pants and we were all still extremely cold. We joined to other tourists who had taken the bus in from the park entrance and were all happy and excited to be there. On the bus we heard an announcement in Portuguese and then in English about some wildlife that was very hungry and to not let it bite you or to feed it, possible large mosquitoes or some crazy rabbit animal. I always panic a little when we go somewhere new because everyone has horror stories, we were warned about the mosquito problem here, sometimes they create huge pus-filled welts, there are none, but I was still scared. For some reason, I still always believe them. Anyway, it turns out they were simply the Brazilian version or raccoons, most of them drinking Fanta out of the trash or running around digging holes. Nothing to be alarmed about.
We walked around for a while and took another bus back to the place where we would take the fast boat into the falls. By this point, I had bought a poncho and was wearing it over my wet shirt, but it kept the wind off. I tried to convince Autsy and Mike to get one, but they decided to stay strong. Whatev, I was happy. We took another jeep trip down and got on the boat with about 8 other people. It could have accommodated more, but due to the weather, most people had gone home. The driver started out fast. It was still raining, so it was hard to look up because it would it you in the face. He was swerving all around and Mike made the comment that he was driving us towards rocks , which was supposed to scared us, but since no one could look up, was completely lost on this group. He drove us so close to the black holes and finally into the falls. I could see Mike shielding his face and looking up. I opened my eyes once and it was awesome. We were directly under them, looking up at the most powerful waterfall in the world. Every time we would turn or bump, Autsy would yelp, and we later heard her again on the video that they took of us, that we considered buying to You Tube, but later thought we would recreate at some point. Another Truck ride back and we were still wet after 6 hours. We waited for the others and took the bus back to the hostel.
It was an exhausting day. We all slept like rocks, even though Austy and I were in a dorm with some loud guys who came in really late. I couldn´t care less. Today, with pleasant weather, we did the Argentine side. We did it cheap and took the city bus there and back. We walked every path in the park and took the water taxi to thisland. It was a complete day. We got a little burned and took some great photos. In most respects, it would have been the perfect trip to the falls, but to us, I´m sure we will remember our Brazilian adventure when we think of this place.
One last note… Both of the camera´s we took with us (Autsy´s and ours) broke at some point during the wet day, so photos will be pieced together from ours, which died first, hers, which died a little later, this Danish couple we met, who we had take photos of us after, and from today, when we went back under much more pleasant circumstances. Those photos will be up as soon as we can get them up, probably Monday or Tuesday.
Hope all is well with everyone. We love and miss you.