The next morning we set off early to cross the border and see the famous Iguaçu Falls. Every limit is a new challenge. You never know exactly what rules will apply and a lot depends on the whims of the border guard. The Paraná separates the countries from each other. We leave the “City of the East” and cross the “Bridge of Friendship” and wonder where the border officials are waiting with the stamps. We pass through portals where I expect to be stopped – but nothing happens. And then we are already in the city of Foz do Iguaçu and Brazil, without a stamp. I am enormously irritated. We continue in the direction of the waterfalls and hope that there will still be an office where you can officially enter the country, but that doesn’t happen.
We continue to the waterfalls, but no authority wants to officially let us enter. Since we’re already here, we’ll have a look at Iguaçu and tomorrow we’ll see how we officially make our entry.
A private highway leads to the peninsula with the waterfalls. Men in uniform direct the cars to huge parking lots protected by fences and gates. The entrance area itself is a separate amusement park. First we have to queue to buy our tickets and then queue for entry. Leon at least helps us cut those lines short. Admission is only valid for a certain time slot and we have to wait until 1 p.m. before we are allowed in. The extent of the tourist exploitation of this natural phenomenon takes my breath away. I later found out that we were lucky enough to be in the school holidays.
We have some time and go eat something. And we get to know our first buffet. Brazilians love buffets. In the next few weeks we will experience many more buffets. Almost every possibility to eat lunch somewhere turns out to be a buffet. The only exceptions are luxury restaurants or the subway.
Finally we get to the park and a coach takes us to the next stations with the other guests who have caught this time slot. These include honeymoon hotels and entry points for hiking or boating. It takes half an hour for the bus to drop us off at the point where we walk along the falls.
At the first vantage point, there is also a hard fight for the best places – nobody seems to know that there will be many more to come. But neither do we.
The views of the Iguaçu Falls are really impressive. From here we look out over Argentina, which claims the other side of the falls for itself. From left to right we have a never-ending panorama of waterfalls in front of us.
A barrier-free paved path leads along the slope, revealing more and more details and new formations of waterfalls. And wildlife. On the bus we were made aware of the need to be careful with the animals and I thought to myself that all the animals must have fled long ago. And yet countless butterflies are buzzing around us and Leon is happy.
Then a coati – appears and everyone pulls on their cameras. But the boy is not alone. Around a bend, more of the mammals scurry around, sneaking into a café in search of something tasty that you won’t find in the woods.
At the end of the path and falls, a bridge leads to the center of the chaos of water. Now we understand why they wanted to sell us rain ponchos at the entrance. It has to be like this. Leon has the most fun of all, as the little water rat never misses an opportunity to get wet.
It’s getting late and time for us to go. We find accommodation in the town of Foz do Iguaçu. The next day we drive back to the “Bridge of Friendship” and cross it on foot. We are rewarded with a view over the river and the city in the morning fog.
We find the Paragayan migration office and leave without any problems. On the Brazilian side, entry also runs smoothly. What we don’t know is that there is also a customs office here for the formal importation of our car. We will find out much later when we are in Bolivia.