This has been my trip so far. I am now at 6, Misiones, and things are getting tropical. Yes, they are supposed to be buses and little aeroplanes, showing my route so far through Argentina. What a lovely lovely place to visit and travel through, especially now as the climate and landscape take on a distinctly different feel.
Lush verdant greenery surrounds us as we travel northwards toward the border with Brazil and Paraguay. Gushing mountain streams sidewind below the road a deep hue of turquoise, tinged with glowing white edges, the lime in the soil, I don´t know.... It´s raw, almost glowing.
I have discarded my boiler jacket and folded it away into it´s drawstring bag as the temperatures rise by at least 10 degrees, the closer we get to the equator, and the end of this 20 hour journey, right into the tip of the north eastern protrusion of Argentina into deep jungle hillsides.
Wider expanses of lakes unspoiled and untouched come to the roadsides infrequently, islands of rich dense tall vegetation far from the shores. The towns and villages are made of hollow clinker breeze blocks, rough cut timber logs and corrugated iron. Everyone has a mobile phone, and motorised transport appears less luxurious, more the result of very skilled auto-mechanical talents and a keen frugality that keeps the older more durable, less disposable cars and trucks in robust working order.
The greenery is of a zillion different shades, it´s just clear blue and green up here.
The red team are on fire. 4 - 0.
A bit late in the season.... (sorry make that 5 - 0, just before half time), but the weather is probably this good all year round for the beautiful game.
I speak with my room-mate Mario Lombi of the University of Siena, Italy, lecturer in Economics, originally of Rome. He tells me he is travelling alone, like I am for this leg of my journey, and we discuss the benefits of solo travel. As a lecturer he enjoys three months off during the summer, affording him the opportunity to travel. He speaks four languages including Italian, French English and Spanish. We speak Esperanto, if that language consists of switching languages between sentences, then we are experts.
Good morning Misiones.
The following morning at breakfast we resume our discussion, and in my daily morning quest for cold milk (what are they thinking with the warm milk in everything? cereal too...) I have a supporter. "Its better" Mario says as he draws from the big jug of cold milk the night watchman gives me, to stop me from going in and out of the hotel kitchen looking for bovine refreshment. (It´s the only form of protein at free at breakfast here. The breakfast has not changed either - its still all sweet.
Mario says he doesn´t 'make much money', but he´s happy. We are kindered spirits I feel. He says that the Argentinan people are 'very nice lovely good people', and if you have managed to read what I have written until now, you will know that I feel strongly about this. They are indeed one of the nicest nations I have encountered (to generalise very strongly), and knowing one or two myself on a personal level, my experience has been that they are decent, honest people. Interestingly Mario says, "I visited Ireland in 1988". Last night he had elaborated that he has visited Cork Killarney / Kilkenny, Dublin Limerick, but not the North. He had followed a band of musicians around it seems at one point.
He was drunk alot of the time, but he was 18 and very happy, he summarised. He said he felt the Irish people were very happy back then, 'good and nice people'. I gave him a wry smile (most likely) and we came to the common understanding that money changes people and nations. That the Argentine people were very nice by and large, like the Irish and most probably the Italians of the 70s and 80s. That may just be the way it is. Mario says that in Europe, all we hear baout is 'growth' the path to growth, and the need for growth. But as any physician and logician will tell you, there has to be balance. With the rough the smooth. the highs with the lows, the good with the bad. 'We have to...' and he gestures with his palms down, pushing back something rising; to receed, he means.
You don't have to be an economist to know that.
More to follow on Iguazu Falls today.....
The scale of things here on the Rio Uruguay / Rio Iguazu is obviously proportional to the scope of the population and land areas of the three countries that meet at this two river confluence, Paraguay, Brasil and Argentina.
Boats like the one below sit in dock unused. No outcry, no scandal, just another remnant of the huge grinding behemoth of Latin American economics. Astonishing, arresting.
The location of the Iguasu Falls is fairytale like. A rainbow sits on the water at all times, as if you have finally reached a place that says, heaven is truly here on earth, it is the Patcha Mama (Mother Earth) speaking directly to you, saying, "Look at me, I am beautiful and I am here for you. Treat me with respect, admire me, bask in my radiance, remember me always. I am a gift to you, you are my children"
That was all fine until they drove us under the waterfalls in speedboats. I was fairly soaked then, right through to my underpants, and I wasn't too happy with Patcha Mama then..... she was calling me in for the dinner, and I was pretending not to hear her, because I was so interested in something else, which was completely insignificant..... Completely soaked.....
As I walked around the park the jungle growth to the sides of the tracks was resplendent with color and life. These guys made noises with their vocal chords, and with their feet, as they slapped the hollow branch on which they sat with their talons, and cocked their tails in the air, in rhythym. Like they were having a vote on something. It's no wonder that the great energy of the gods of the earth and sky were the deities of the native in this beautiful place long ago. The evidence of a greater integral intelligence is all around, even in the little dealings of these talkative fellows.
I dried my clothes in the sun as I got forty winks on the grass, and these beautiful blue butterflies kept coming to me, alone and in pairs.
The compound eye.
Looks at me from every angle, directly into my soul. Our minds are one, connected across the space between us.
I turn the butterfly around on my hand
And the black hole, the focal point of its gaze, unafraid, innocent trusting unquestioningly, goes deep to a receptor in its brain, all knowing, all seeing moments of tranquillity are there between it and I.
The same shared universe.
The proboscis licks the salt from my hands.
I have something it needs.
The wings are closed
The thighs steady against the underside of them.
It gives me knowledge through experience,
And this is what the fathers of modern science saw, the jungle biologists.
In the distance, the Condors circled high above surveying, waiting, gliding, lifting on the warm spray laden gusts from the falls below. Magnificent birds that are compelling to gaze at.
The hair is looking much better here, it has to be said. "Get out of the way Cathal, you're blocking the view. You're a pain, not a pane of glass."
That hole in the Earth there is the Devil's Throat. This was the one waterfall the speed boats didn't mess with, and stayed well clear of. Check out the videos below for some idea of the power of the surge of water powering over the edge, at this, the biggest waterfall in the park.