Monday, 31 October 2011

A brief stop in a Megacity and one of the Modern Wonders of the World.

We were heading to Foz do Iguassu but had to change buses in Sao Paulo, Brazils biggest, most frightening, industrial, economic and political centre that boasts a population of around 20million people. The term Megacity had never seemed so real and well deserved as it did when we set off from the bus station in search of the Municipal Market at rush hour. The train passed through what seemed to be a never ending sprawl, none of it particularly aesthetic, at one point passing over an 11 lane motorway which was at a complete standstill in both directions. I don't even know how that would work. After a short journey we alighted and made slow progress towards the market where we had been advised to try a Mortadella sandwich. Something that is apparently a Sao Paulo delicacy, but not something designed to be the introductory meal of the day. I tell you what though, it was absolutely delicious. Here's a photo and if anything, ours was much bigger than this one.


I'm not ashamed to say that we both had real difficulties finishing them and got the helpful staff to wrap the remaining two thirds that we hadn't physically been able to fit in our stomachs to eat later on for lunch AND dinner. The market was pretty good all in all, fresh fruit, juices, and countless eateries made for a a few hours of bloated wandering before we had to make our way back to the bus station, which was the size of an international airport, for our connection to Foz do Iguassu.

It was a short overnight hop on the bus rendered even shorter by the fact that the driver had clearly taken on a bit of a sideline as a delivery driver. We stopped at a small town in the middle of the night and watched in bafflement as the driver and a couple of other guys took half an hour to load what looked like medical supplies alongside our various rucksacks and suitcases stowed beneath the bus. After this point, I swear the bus didn't drop to below 65mph, a full 10mph faster than was required by Dennis Hopper in Speed. This resulted in us arriving at 4am (our scheduled arrival was 6.30am) and being uncerimoniously deposited outside a locked bus station before our bus driver could fishtail out of the car park, wheels spinning to deliver his cash cargo of  surgical scalpels or whatever it was. Its not a good feeling when you know you've got 2 hours to wait until the station itself opens and 3 until you can get a bus to somewhere semi close to your hostel is, on top of having had next to no sleep the previous night. We settled down to wait and eventually, after what I remember as a blur we ended up outside our hostel and was being let in by the cleaning lady who had poked us awake with her open toed sandle. The next day we were up and at 'em bright and early to hop on a bus and hit the falls.

We'd heard good things about the falls and weren't sure whether we would bother going over to view them from the Argentinian side the next day but as soon as we arrived on the scene our mind was made up. And this was why

The Brazilian side is all about the panoramas with breathtaking views from viewing platforms at varying levels set into the cliffs, but on the Argentinian side, you enter right into the heart of the waterfall on raised walkways with views over the top of the waterfall watching the tonnes of water drop over the edge of a 50 metere cliff face. The raw power is unbelievable and the noise is overwhelming, just a tiny insight into the potential power of our mother earth.

So after 2 days and one border crossing, we had been blown away by what surely must be one of the New 7 Wonders of the World which you can actually still vote for until the 11th of November by clicking on the link. I haven't because it reminds me a little of a worthwhile X-Factor and the dichotomy is too much for my tiny mind. It should be noted that the wildlife in and around the falls is almost as impressive, with Turtles, various Lizards and huge numbers of green and yellow butterflies standing around in clumps pretending to be flowers.

We were in Argentina now, and finally, after 3 weeks in a country where I could not speak one word of the Portuguese required in order to make myself understood, it was finally time to put my very, very poor Spanish, learnt 13 years previously at High School to the test.
Buenos Aires Here we come.

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