I’M POSTING TWO BLOGS AT THE SAME TIME, SO BE SURE TO READ THE PREVIOUS ONE TOO.
January 25, 2012 – Santiago, Chile – My life is in such a fast-lane, that I am way behind in blogging opprotunities, so I shall try to catch up on news which is now three weeks old. Back then, I was in Brazil, visiting the famous Iguazu Falls. It is majestic….but as usual, we are each the center of our own universe….so we are apt to experience these great sites through the filter of what is happening to us as we gawk at the famous scenes, or limp hotly around the sun-baked expanses that no one mentions in the brochure. So, here is my soggy version of a world-famous, not-to-be-missed Premier Wonder of the World:
Friday, January 6, 2012 – 9 a.m. – I am waiting for the van to take some of us hostel guests to Iguazu Falls, on the Argentina side, which will be a long, hot, but interesting day until the same van picks us up at 7 p.m. for the hour trip back here, crossing borders twice between Brazil and Argentina.
2 p.m. – It is 94 degrees in the shade. The Argentine side of the Falls is much more extensive than the Brazilian side which can be covered in just half a day. It’s been very labor intensive so I am sitting out the middle chunk of the park while three others in my hostel group explores a part of the trail similar to the one we did this morning. When we arrived, we took a long series of steps down to the edge of the river and boarded boats. We knew that we would get very, very wet because we were going right up to the cataract. Our backpacks went into waterproof bags and really-smelly life preservers went on our chests. Then, we threaded into seats on a strong motorboat which plowed through the rapids and into the mists produced by Devil’s Throat Falls.
Why do they always credit that fellow for something so beautiful? This happens all over the world whenever there is massive power.
Anyway, mists were nothing. Mists were welcome, in fact, on such a hot day. Our boat sidled right up under one pouring cataract, so that cold water landed within, upon, and all over us at not quite a firehose velocity, but almost. Cold! But, this is summertime. How about the winter tourists who come between May and September? Remember, the seasons are reversed in the Southern Hemisphere.
I have now taken an hour to dry. But then, I am wearing exactly the wrong clothes for the occassion today. Talk about bad planning! My wardrobe has been malfunctioning ever since we arrived!
I had figured that I’d get wet….so, okay, I’ll put on my fastest-drying cotton skirt. That will give me more sun protection than shorts. This was the sum total of my pre-planning last night. This ankle-length skirt has been great for traveling, though it has so much material that it tends to bunch between my legs when I walk fast. Had I forgotten? This skirt is so full, a complete circle full, that it won’t fit in my backpack. I have to wear it on buses or planes to bring it along. You can see how partial I am towards it. Plus, it’s cool and it flaps away mosquitos around my ankles. But, Iguazu Falls is not the place for it!
Saturday, January 7, 2012 – 11 a.m. – Going to Iguazu Falls certainly proved that I am NOT traveling for the tourism. Of course, no one comes to Foz du Iguasu, Brazil for any other reason. The Falls themselves were magnificent! I’m so glad I saw them and the access, the crowds and the long, long walks were unavoidable. The heat was of the sunstroke variety. That’s all.
Reading over my journal entries, they all seem pretty lackluster. I guess the satisfying Work of this place and this journey is mostly in the input, through good reading and through the short but enjoyable social connections…not so much the deep insights obtained….or the popular sights seen and digested.
Monday, January 9, 2012 1 p.m- – I’m all packed now and mashed back into the traveling containers. Luckily, I researched temperatures in the countries ahead or I would have tossed out all my jackets, sweaters and scarves in this heat. Looks like Chile can get cold. Now to continue my report on Iguazu Falls and my wardrobe malfunction. This big skirt has always appealed to my 1950’s self because it is a full circle and swirls about my ankles. My first clue to its inappropriateness came while navigating the gillion steep stone steps to water’s edge and the waiting boats. It trailed behind like a bridal train and kept getting stepped upon by the guy behind me. This resulted, every time, in a jerking down of the elastic waistband. The steps were challenging enough in their own right without having to worry about tripping over my clothing.
Once in the boat, I did the math on the soaking we were heading for. My wet skirt would have so many pounds of water in it that it wouldn’t need anybody’s sandal pulling it down. It was going to fall off all by itself!
As curtain after curtain of falling water slopped into my lap, I developed a desperate plan as to how I would maintain my modesty once it became necessary to climb that mountainside, endless stairway again. Ride over, standing up dripping wet, I pulled the waistline up to my armpits like a sundress and let the soggy mass slap around my legs as I scrambled out of the boat and up the cliff. It took lots and lots of wringing out and even tying some of the extra flapping fabric around my neck, and more around the hipline, before I had a design that would make it back up those killer stairs.
It took a bit of exposure to the 95 degree sunshine before the light cotton effect caused the drying I was counting on and I could again concentrate upon the majesty around me. To be honest, the majesty only appeared now and then, because most of the time, we were slogging along forested sidewalks with many, many fellow tourists. After a theme park style train ride, we all walked along steel-grating, raised pathways across many branches of a shallow, gently-flowing river.
We got a good idea of the many quiet sluices that the water took on its innocent, unknowing journey towards the waiting bedlam. Neither fish, frogs, nor early Spanish explorer’s canoes, could know why that sound rumbled up ahead or why white mist filled the air. We did!
And it WAS breathtaking when we finally reached the large square platform right slam-bang at the edge of the precipice. The foaming, falling water was right below our feet, exactly on the horseshoe’s edge. Rainbows and the sounds made by lovely, muffled falling water were all about our band of intrepid tourists. So beautiful. But everyone was jockeying for photo ops, so we couldn’t hog the rail for long.
Walking back across the perforated metal path, I meditated upon this great analogy of life. We all float along in our ordinary way, with every one of our needs easily supplied by our environment. However, something awaits us all up ahead. A big, huge, inevitable transition! Maybe, we can delay it, if we even sense its approach, but there is no way that we can excuse ourselves from taking the plunge because that is simply where all of this river water goes, whether we like it or not!
Death, in all its glory!
Then, after a whole lot of drama, life, apparently, goes on. The very same river water becomes quiet and normal again (just at a different elevation) and resumes its steady, shallow, familiar flow across the land.
What’s that? Rebirth?