April 5, 2007
Today it was time to see the Brazilian side of Iguacu Falls. At the entrance was a museum explaining the history of the falls and the ongoing effort to protect the area's phenomenal nature. It was a nice introduction to the falls and everything was written in Portuguese, English, and Spanish, so the vast majority of visitors could read it.
Next we rode an open-air double-decker bus to the falls. Along the way, the different areas of the park were explained in the three aforementioned languages. It was already evident that not as much walking would be required here than in Argentina. The bus took us right up to the falls, and there was only one short path to follow to the main viewing platforms.
The weather cooperated better today. It wasn't too hot but it wasn't raining, so it was better than any of the last few days in the area.
There were once again lots of coatis on this side of the falls. Signs were posted all over saying that they will bite you, but most people couldn't get past their cute, cuddly appearance. I even saw one guy trying to pet one of them. I guess he didn't see its large pointy teeth. Two kids, on the other hand, had the opposite reaction. They screamed and cried anytime a coati got anywhere near them. So were the coatis more like cute little Tedi Bears or devious raccoon wannabes? The question would be answered definitively later in the day.
The walkway took us past most of the waterfalls of Iguacu, but it was further away than the Argentine side. People always argue over which side is better. Some like hearing the roar and feeling the mist of the Devil's Throat from five feet away; others prefer to get a good perspective of hundreds of waterfalls at once. I think a trip to the falls is not complete without seeing both sides.
This time we somehow forgot to bring food, so we got a small lunch from the overpriced cafe at the end of the walk. I gobbled up my sandwich in seconds and hoped it would hold me over until dinner. My parents were working on their food too when a group of three coatis crawled under the wooden fence and entered the eating area. Lots of people took their cameras out and went "awwww," but these rascals were searching for a target. They found a young couple nearby who were about to start eating their hamburgers. The couple just smiled when they sauntered up to the table, but then within a blink of an eye, two of them jumped up onto the table, swiped a hamburger each in their elongated snouts, and ran away before the couple could protest. The couple just gave a look of confusion, like they couldn't believe what was happening, but everyone else just laughed, thankful it wasn't them. So that solved the coati question. Or did it?
A few minutes later, another coati crossed the fence and started sniffing around. I had had enough of them, so I got up and chased it away. My mom didn't appreciate this gesture and called me a â€œmeanie." I couldn't believe it. The little bastards just stole two $5 hamburgers and I was the bad guy! Don't judge a book by its cover, folks. Coatis are evil pests, not cuddly companions.
We weren't quite ready to go home, despite all the commotion. Across the street from the falls was an aviary with a sign that proclaimed it was the â€œBest Bird Site In South America." It seemed pretty sketchy at first because before we even got inside, there was a guy saying â€œOver here, over here, just ten dollars to enter." That seemed expensive, and if it really were the best bird site in South America, they guy trying to draw in tourists wouldn't be necessary, but we figured we'd check it out as long as we were there.
The first section was pretty bad. The cages were so small the birds barely had any room to move. The bars were so close together, it was difficult to see the birds properly. One of the birds was clearly blind, and another one was just hanging and not moving at all. I thought it was dead until I saw it blink. I thought we had gotten ripped off for sure.
But immediately after that first section, everything was great. The landscape opened up so most of the birds could roam around freely. There was even a complete forest in one area. They had many rare birds, including the hyacinth macaw, which is nearly extinct in the wild, and the harpy eagle. There were also lots of other macaws, toucans, weird looking birds, and a few non-birds like marmosets and lizards. It took hours to see everything, and we were exhausted by the end. So it wasn't a ripoff after all.
Back at the hotel, we discussed our plans for heading to Rio tomorrow. We had a very early flight, which means we'd have to take an expensive taxi all the way to the airport because the buses don't run all night here like they do in many places. I inquired about changing our flight, but it would cost way too much to do so. The good news is that we'll have a good amount of day left to see Rio tomorrow, so we're not wasting any time.