A Stop at the Falls, the Foz de Iguacu

It is noteworthy to stand beside the Iguacu River for it divides Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay. But for us it was more than that for we needed to cross this river from the small town of Foz de Iguacu in Brazil to the country of Paraguay on the other side. The huge swirling eddies of the water would threaten any small boat, so the crossing before us appeared more than exciting—it seemed dangerous.

But let me tell about our trip so you understand what in the world we were doing in that part of the world. You probably know from previous blogs that we were missionaries in Brazil. On this occasion we were travelling to visit the Huston family in Asuncion, Paraguay. But since we wanted to do a bit of sightseeing along the way we stopped part way there to see the world famous falls, the Foz de Iguacu. The trip began at the city airport in Sao Paulo that now handles only local traffic. This was before short-haul jets but we were lucky to board our first turboprop plane. It landed on a grass runway and our visit to the largest falls in the world began for Doris, myself and our two children, Monica and Vernon.

If my memory is correct we booked into the only hotel in town, and then took a bus out to the falls. When we stopped close by the falls we made sure we were all together. We kept track of our children for we were perched on a rock about halfway down to the pool where the water fell from the precipice above. From there we stood we could see not only the three Kilometres of the whole falls but the horseshoe part named the A Gargunta do Diabo.  Actually the falls is a network of 275 individual falls, some small and others huge. The numbers about the falls would not excite any anyone including those who read this blog. You would need to stand beside us, hear the roar from The Devil’s Throat, feel the surging clouds of spray and watch the water that cascades from the Parana; this river is only exceeded in length by the Amazon.

When we visited, there were no catwalks or jet boats to take us over the roiling waters just below the falls. But we did see this! Boys from below where we stood were diving into the pool formed by the falling water. Me–I had no desire to dive in for I could imagine jagged rocks under that boiling water. However the boys I assume were there just for the fun for none came to ask for a few centavos.

For the geographers I should say a word more about the Parana river. It is so huge the Tupi Indian language for the word means, “like the sea.” The Itaipu dam and hydro electric generators on the lower Parana produce 90 % of Paraguay’s electricity, 20 % of Brazil’s power and is only superseded in size by China’s Three Gorges power plant.

But back to our family, this time at the hotel. I don’t remember much about it except that it was acceptable and in a way that was special for this frontier town. And it had a good restaurant. Perhaps the dining room was crowded for we shared a table with a handsome lady. As we chatted about what we each did, she shared her work using euphemistic words—her task was to make men happy.

It was the next morning that we descended the hill with our luggage to the Iguacu river close by. We were apprehensive when we saw our transportation to the little backward village in Paraguay across the water.  Our only option was a wooden boat that would hold perhaps a dozen individuals. When loaded with people and a treadle sewing machine, the gunnels were about six inches above the water. That did not seem nearly enough for the half Km. crossing on fast moving water swirling with eddies. But we had no choice…either it was pay our fare and take this boat or interrupt our trip. So we said our silent prayers and counted on God to post his angels to the task of getting us safe to Paraguayan soil. We made it but then loaded on a bus for Asuncion that did not look much more promising than the boat.

But then we ran headlong into the laws regarding the roads. No traffic moved at all in any direction when it began to rain. The purpose was to preserve the integrity of the dirt highway and sure enough it began to sprinkle. The bus pulled into a little roadside stand that we thought might provide a respite from the rock-hard seats of the bus. They did have soft drinks for sale but you can imagine how appetizing they were in a tropical climate when there was no refrigeration. But we drank it anyway and ate the little sandwiches available on stale bread. The sprinkling stopped—thank you to God’s angels—and after a while the road dried up a bit and we were on our way.

Added to the complications of this trip is that we had no confirmation from the Hustons that they knew we were coming.

(Catch up with us next week!)

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