Tuesday, February 16, 2010


*click on pics to enlarge*

That thrill-boat left us at the river's edge at the bottom of one of the walks leading back up the top. The rocks and paths were slippery but well designed.

At one relatively level section of the track two half-dressed youths hurried past in the other direction, heading down, almost delirious with excitement, yelling out what sounded to me like 'es formidabilo, es formidabilo' and I nodded, our eyes meeting. I blurted out something like 'fantastic, fantastic' which turned them around to ask, arms outstretched, "where you from?" My reply was greeted with exclaims of pleasure and cries of "wallaby, wallaby - we are friends, we Argentina" pointing to the nearest cataract with obvious pride. "Argentina formidabilo - we are friends, wallaby, we are friends" and one then proceeded to engage me in some kind of thumb based handshake while we exchanged more greetings. (Around here it is important to establish as early as possible that one is not British.)

We drifted apart, the climbers coming on from behind, and the boys scatter taking them back and forth. Lookouts dotted the climb. About halfway up, I had stopped at one that lead out to a walkway which projected precariously finger-like towards a huge wall of water, when from the bunched crowd hesitating about going further, these two emerged. "Wallaby, wallaby, you must come, you must come" taking my arm and leading me through the crowd and along the runway to its expanded terminal. They stood beside me for few silent minutes and then with a quick "we must go" vanished backwards into the crowd behind now almost invisible in the mist. I was face to face with a force of nature so close that I was hypnotised. The noise was deafening. The endless swelling and exploding of the caramel waters was like looking at the birth of the universe in sepia. I stared at it and was consumed by the desire to go further, into it, to be absorbed and experience it to its maximum and icarus-like suffer if not enjoy the final consequence. I was broken from the trance by the awareness of my heaving chest. I was sobbing.

The next day and a half was spent seeing the falls from the top. first from the Brazilian side, which gives a wide look at the scale of the them, 2.7 km of hundreds of cataracts, the widest in existence...

... and then back to the Argentinian side. The engineering and access infrastructure is astounding on both sides. When and how they managed to build these walkways is the question.

But the best is the long walk across the vast muddy river to the massive u-shaped concavity where the mightiest of them all churns - the Devil's Throat. This curved cutout in the rock edge throws the river back onto itself as it spills over and the result is like some reverse volcano, imploding into a consumptive vortex of no return .

Even C, who with her sister S was travelling with us and who had seen 'the others', was struck dumb, clutching the rail, mouth open, transfixed with the rest of us not only by scale, power, and noise of it all, but by its endlessness.... it just never stops, always the same yet always changing.

1 comment:

Smorg said...

Iguazu.... definitely on my 'must visit before I die' list now!