Seen but not been
I have travelled to the far north-eastern curl of Argentina to visit Iguazu Falls, one of the world’s greatest spectacles. I plan to see it from both the Argentinian and Brazilian sides, if time allows. Today after arriving I explored the town of Puerto Iguazu, which is smaller and I think more low key than Foz de Iguaçu in Brazil and Ciudad del Este, the city in Paraguay which makes up the third hub of the tri-border, although the actual point is somewhere on the water. For sheer novelty factor I’m gagging to visit Paraguay too, but will be limited by time.
Today’s image ain’t going to win any photography awards, but I felt visiting this location was fairly monumental. It’s rare to be on a tri-border; the last time it happened I was worried about errant gunfire. In Paraguay I’ve seen a new country today, although not set foot in it. When I went to Brazil I remember cajoling the blip community into the ‘which countries have you transited through but not visited’ game. Now I think it’s high time to play the ‘which countries have you seen but not visited [from a plane window doesn’t count]’ game. For me this would include Namibia, Zimbabwe, Guinea, Chile and now Paraguay. An illustrious list.
I’m staying somewhere called Tangoinn Beer Hotel, which is transplanting me back to ropy $3-a-night dorms I used during travels in Central America in 2007. Whilst these days I can afford a private room I had to choose between one with a window that closed or one with a mirror. I chose the former, prizing security over vanity. The closing window also may bring health benefits as, based on public health campaigns around town, dengue fever is a problem. I must be careful to avoid contracting any flu-like symptoms ahead of my arrival in the UK on Monday, in case I’m quarantined.
The townspeople of Iguazu appear to warmly accept my hybrid of Spanish and Portuguese, as many people are bilingual and can make sense of me. After visiting the viewpoint over the river, I was waiting for a bus with a French mother and son duo, and an earnest older German couple wearing all the fast-dry travel gear they could muster. French and German were languages I studied at school and could have got by in; French still is but German has fallen out of my head unless anyone wants to ask me to point to the Krankenhaus or Rathaus. We were all befuddled about how to catch the bus back. The German woman thought I was a Spanish speaker so asked me for some information in Spanish as bad as mine, and I responded in my natural reflex of Portuñol, which didn’t help her, so we switched to English. What would have been most useful is for a few Brazilians to have been peppered around the bus stop, giving me the chance to cement some Portuguese before it goes backwards.
Overall I loved the complex melange of languages and nationalities intermingling at the tri-border, and had one of those semi-regular daydreams about quitting work and travelling Latin America until the cash runs dry.