Saturday, March 10, 2018

Class of Brazil - 9th Lesson: Foz do Iguaçu and the Games Without Frontiers

I like frontiers. The idea that you can take one big step and you cross from a country with one language to another, totally different one. That you need to look for a currency exchange office. That you might have to sing another anthem under a different flag.

Foz do Iguacu - bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels
I'm not spamming my blog with pictures of myself - but I cannot spare you of me posing in front of one of the 'Wonders of the World'.

No, of course I do not like frontiers protected by high walls, barbed wire, patrolling officers with German shepherds chasing people who try to cross from one side to the other in search of a better life - or even just an outcome.

I like the frontiers whose significance exists practically only in our heads - a bit like new years: although Australians are already having their sleep into the first night of the new year and Hawaiians still have to wait for a couple of hours till they can start with their fire crackers, in Europe corks are popping at 12 as if this midnight would be the only real entrance into the next year; and yet it depends only on where you are standing at the very moment.

After all, the whole thing is foolish, anyway, since other cultures and religions have a totally different calendar, hence 'new year'.

However,  knowing all this, everybody is celebrating his - finally willy-nilly - 'new year'.


Foz do Iguacu - bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels
Look at those tiny people on the bridge to the right: they are visiting from the Argentinian side of the wonder.

With many frontiers it's basically the same: Someone somewhen decided that there will be a border between two countries and drew a line just to have some sort of orientation - finally willy-nilly, too.

And even as this line was drawn randomly and fortunately often doesn't bear great consequences, we feel like doing something meaningful crossing it - as if within a couple of meters really something changes.

Just like new year, it's basically in our heads.

But these are the frontiers I find sort of fascinating: where a thin line decides which language is spoken over here and over there, which currency is accepted, which memorial days are celebrated - it's the door between cultural varieties that I like at frontiers.


Foz do Iguacu - bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels
It's quite pricey visiting the falls by boat, but it must be a great - maybe a bit scary - feeling (the boat is the tiny speck in the lower right corner).

I love particularly tripoints - I was raving about this in an earlier post on Basel - and there is a fine example at an even finer place - Foc do Iguaçu waterfalls in the tri-border region of Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay.


Foz do Iguacu - bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels
Itaipú - besides being the largest waterpower plant in the world, it is also another tourist magnet in Foz; so they supply you with a couple of touristy posing and selfie opportunities.

And just like at the tripoint connecting France, Germany, and Switzerland, you can easily wander from one country to another and enjoy their differences and of course their similarities and there is no barbed wire and there is no stern border patrol with guns and mean dogs. It's diversity, yet togetherness.
Games without frontiers.


Foz do Iguacu - bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels
Just like in his tile-murals all over Curitiba, Poty Lazzarotto created a wall depicting the project and its workers in all their glory. It adorns the first stop of the guided tour through this impressive plant.

In 1984, Brazil and Paraguay even installed a common project, world's largest water power plant - Usina Itaipú. In 1994, the American Society of Civil Engineers elected the Itaipú Dam as one of the seven modern Wonders of the World.


Foz do Iguacu - bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels
Guided tour of the Itaipú plant means going on a bus trip for about two hours....

At this point I could now copy and paste all the fantastic figures - without having the slightest idea what they mean; when it comes to science and technology, I'm a complete moron. So if you happen to be a person who is interested in this sort of stuff and who understands what these high numbers mean, please consult their website and be impressed.


Foz do Iguacu - bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels
....and possibly add a catamaran-cruise on lake Itaipú to your itinerary.

Although I did not get the figures, I still got that it is a beautiful, environment-friendly bi-national project.
Two countries share brotherly the power - what a sentence! I wish we could say that about all countries!
Since Paraguay needs less of its share - it has less than 7 million inhabitants, they sell their surplus to Brazil - over 200 millions of Brazilians naturally need more electricity.
Power to the people - everything sounds all peaches and cream, the Itaipú people are very proud of their great project and make it accessible to visitors from allover the world; even morons like me go there.


Foz do Iguacu - bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels
There is an unbelievable number of waterfalls of all different heights.

Yes, it's all about waters in Foz do Iguaçu: it's main attraction remain the incredible waterfalls.
An amicably shared attraction, too, this time between Argentina and Brazil.
You can visit them from both countries - even on the same day.

The Iguaçu-falls consist of 20 large and 255 smaller waterfalls along almost three kilometers / two miles. Most of them are about 65 meters / 213 feet high, but there are some up to 82 meters / almost 270 feet. Incredible 1.500 to 7.000 m³ / 53,000 to 247,000 ft³ of water do plummet down from the rocks.


Incredible masses of water are roaring down from all sides. Close to the 'Garganta do Diabo' (the devil's throat) you get soaked by the spray water. 

The Iguaçu-waterfalls are one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. Since 1984 (Argentinian side) resp. 1986 (Brasilian side) they have been a UNESCO world heritage site.


These South American coati (aka nasua nasua) are all over the place. And signs warning you to touch or feed them are all over the place, too: these rascals have mighty sharp teeth. Still they are cute, especially these babies.

With this - the introduction of an environmental friendly, bi-national project, a bi-nationally shared 'Wonder of the World' and a spot where the harmonious togetherness of three borders is celebrated - I finish the last lesson of my Class of Brazil series.


Even at the hotel it's all about waters: Relaxing at the hotel pool after a long, unforgettable day.


Wanna know what happened before? Here are the previous lessons:


Class of Brazil - 1st Lesson: We Have it Good

Class of Brazil - 2nd Lesson: Danger Seems Closer from Afar

Class of Brazil - 3rd Lesson: It is a Hellish Path to a Heavenly Place

Class of Brazil - 4th Lesson: I Am What I Am

Class of Brazil - 5th Lesson: I Call Them Like I See Them

Class of Brazil - 6th Lesson: Bonito - Nomen Est Omen

Class of Brazil - 7th Lesson: Curitiba - and the Meaning of Means

Class of Brazil - 8th Lesson: Day Trip to Morretes - Planning On Not Planning



Note to the curious reader: The links above lead you to little stories and reflections on my stay in Brazil. Soon there will be an extended travel guide with all the relevant information including addresses, links etc. 


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53 comments:

  1. I'll be visiting Brazil in two weeks and look forward to seeing this in person. Is the boat cruise worth doing or just touristy?

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    1. Oh, you will have such a great time, Noel! At the waterfalls, everything is touristy. I didn't do the boat cruise since it was another 60$ for quite a short trip. And even walking, at the end you get really close to the falls. However, I think it will be a whole different perspective and experience, so if you have the extra cash...you can decide on the spot. Whatever you decide, have a great, great trip!!

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  2. I'm dying to go and see these for myself. A friend of mine posted a video where he had a Go Pro strapped to him when he did the boat ride and ever since then I've really been wanting to go. It looks amazing. I hope I'm able to make it soon!

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    1. Yeah, I thought that 60 bucks for the boat are quite a lot, but then I thought it might be a really special experience...I was happy that I got to see the falls from near. If I go there again, I'd spend at least two days in Foz to visit also the Argentinian side - and maybe invest in the boat ride; you'll probably get a really cool perspective from down there.
      I wish you that you can go asap - it's very cool!

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  3. We had such an amazing time exploring the Iguazu falls both from the Brazilian and Argentinian side. It is a marvellous site.

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    1. I was there far too short, I should have stayed at least two days, but it wasn't possible. I'll go back from the Argentinian side as soon as I can.

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  4. Foc do Iguaçu waterfalls look amazing. I'd love to explore by boat. It does look like a very special site. Your hotel pool looks pretty cool too!!!

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    1. The hotel was nothing that special, but very conveniently located close to the airport and to the falls - and the food and the Caipirinha were great!

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  5. Is that the hotel where you stayed? If so, that's where I want to stay, too. Foc do Iguaçu is an amazing spectacle of Nature! And I will do it from both sides!

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    1. Yes, that's were I stayed. I can recommend it mainly for the perfect location (close to the airport and close to the falls - with a bus stop right in front of the premises) and the excellent food and fine drinks at a very reasonable price. Hanging out at the pool after an exhausting day is nice, too.

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  6. As I imagine it, everything about Brazil will be larger than life for me :) The thundering falls look awe-inspiring. Maybe I can figure out a time of the day to experience them without the crowds. What do you think?

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    1. According to my experience every sight is quieter the sooner you get there. But I was so fascinated by the waters that I didn't even notice the other people.

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  7. Breathtaking photos! Thanks for allowing me to travel with you on your fantastic adventures! 😀

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  8. That is indeed thrilling to be able to see the falls from both sides. I am not sure when Brazil will happen for me but I hope it happens.
    So good to read how they share their power. Like you I too wish countries around the world shared their resources.

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    1. Yes, these collaborations were very inspiring how easy life can be. I'm glad we have that in Europe, too.

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  9. it's sooo beautiful!!! how much more if I stare at it in person! I'm sure i will just be saying WOW the whole time!!! thanks for sharing this. definitely worth a visit in the future!

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    1. Yes, I was wow-ing the whole time, too. It is fascinating.

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  10. Your photos are extraordinary! I would love to visit that particular tripoint one day, as all three countries have been on my travel list for quite a while now :) I totally agree with you - humanity would definitely be better off without those harsh, barbed wire and walls border. It would brings everybody closer together and would teach people how it is to respect one another.

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    1. Yes, after visiting Foz, I added Paraguay (and once I'm on it, also Uruguay) way high to my bucket list. Does this ever stop?!😏

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  11. I love a tripoint as well - it's so fun standing in one place, knowing that you're looking at 3 different countries (which it turns out aren't that different after all, in that precise point). This particular South American tripoint looks amazing - love your photos!

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    1. Thank you, Emma, that's exactly what I meant.

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  12. Every time I think of Brazil, I just think of Rio. This post is a great reminder that there's so much more than the big city. I know my husband would love, love, love to photograph these falls.

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    1. Oh my gosh, there is soooo much more. Actually it's so diverse - I've seen only a small part south of Rio. I need to go back for the Amazon and the Caribbean coast.

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  13. Yes, frontiers are definitely boundaries we have created – figments of our imagination! It really is funny how an imaginary line drawn in the sand feels monumental just because we say it’s crossing a boundary! Fascinating though how we as a human race revere and respect them. I haven’t visited a tripoint before in my life, but would like to get to the Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay one. You got some incredible photos of Iguaçu-falls – a natural wonder I would love to visit one day.

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    1. Thanks, Megan, glad you like them. Yes, it's a wonderful region, and people are very nice. I definitely will come back soon.

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  14. I must've been living in a cave because I didn't know Seven Natural Wonders of the World was a thing! I must say you're lucky to have witness such breathtaking sceneries in person! Just looking at your photos of those waterfalls alone has made my jaw drop to the ground hahaa.

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    1. Although many people travel to the places I've visited, I still feel very privileged knowing that much more people will never be able to enjoy this - so definitely yes, I am lucky to be healthy enough and to have the means to travel and see the wonders of the world - whether they are officially called wonders or whether only I wonder. 🙏🙏🙏

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  15. The pictures are awesome and the description gives some inspiration to visit this place...

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  16. Wow! This looks like an amazing trip. Thanks for sharing. 😀

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  17. Frontiers are exciting no doubt about that! Newer vistas, newer rules! And no I dont like barbed frontiers either! I wish there was no concept of war and all that ensues! And who can divide natural wonders like this one? The falls looks absolutely magnificent! Love the wall of murals as well, so thoughtful! Beautifully penned post!

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  18. Would love to visit the falls some day. So fitting that they are located at a tri-border region - can't get much more majestic than that!

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  19. I was in Foz Do Iguacu in December. The Iguazu Falls are probably the most impressive natural sight I've ever seen in my life. I loved it.

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    1. Machu Picchu made me actually cry - I found it more mythical. But of course the falls are super impressive, too!

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  20. My goodness, I'd love to go here! The falls look absolutely stunning and your photos really show a sense of how vast they are.

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  21. Seeing the Iguazu Falls has been on my bucket list for so long, it must be an incredible adventure.... nature at its best!

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    1. That's true, nature shows it full power at this place.

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  22. It's great that these countries can have this peaceful agreement so that people can enjoy these beautiful waterfalls! I'd love to see Iguazu someday!

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  23. Brasil is for sure much more as I thought! And I like how you put it in lessons :) Amazing idea! Also, the pictures are really nice, for sure you have an eye for taking photos! :)

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    1. Thank you, this means a lot to me - especially coming from an "Optician" 😉

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  24. Iguaçu waterfalls look amazing! So powerful and forceful. I like how certain places can cross into different countries and can take on the cultures and traditions of each country.

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    1. Yes, as long as it's not a modern form of conquering...😉

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  25. First of all I love your perspective on frontiers/borders/boundaries. Darcee & I had a surreal experience standing on the Border in the middle of a bridge over the Rhein between Liechtenstein & Switzerland. Oddly the chocolate in my pocket tasted the same no matter what side I stood on.
    As for your adventure to the tripoing. How very cool. I do love natural boudaries like the Iguazu Waterfalls as they kind state, "You shall not pass!"

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    1. Hey, Eric, that's an excellent idea: Trump could build waterfalls instead of a wall - that would be pretty and solve the shortage of water.

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  26. I totally get what you mean by frontiers without any physical borders and the at of crossing the border, from one country to another, one culture to another, one language to another. Borders are, like you said, in our head, a concept that is meant to bring some organisation. It's like when you're cruising the Bosphorus in Turkey and you switch from one continent to another!

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    1. You're right, that's an excellent example: a city on two continents...I mean if that doesn't show that it's just in our heads than what does?!

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  27. Ahhh, those Coatis look soooooo cute :) I haven't been to Brazil yet, but it's on the list - I hope to get there one day soon! x

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  28. Brazil, Brazil! Hope to visit you soon and experience all you have to offer!

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