Adventures in Argentina–Flora and Fauna Near Iguazu Falls


Across the highway from the helicopter business, we visited a surprisedly large bird sanctuary, recommended by our taxi driver/guide.  We did not expect anything as lovely as what we found. Most of the birds and flowers there are native to the area.  However, a few rarer species from other parts of the world exist there as well.

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Surprised, I recalled seeing these exact same flowers on my two trips to Costa Rica.  In fact, I found another photo on an older blog post from one of my Costa Rica trips.

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Endangered, many countries where these wonderful parrots live do everything they can to save them.  They pair for life–we found the evidence amusing and enchanting.

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Whenever we saw an uneven number together, we looked elsewhere and found the mate drinking or feeding.

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Of course, there has to be toucans.  Some even clowned for the tourists.  People clustered all around to watch their antics.

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Where you have flowers you have butterflies.

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Butterflies love Gaston.

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They landed on him, flew to his fingers, let him pick them up without flying away.  I tried, but no luck.

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A fabulous morning on the Brazilian side, starting with the helicopter ride and ending here with flowers, birds, and butterflies.

 

Adventure in Argentina–Iguazu Falls from a Helicopter


It became very clear to Gaston and me that we would not really get a true perspective of the falls unless we took the helicopter ride our taxi driver/tour guide recommend.  To do this we once again had to cross to Brazil.  The company that operates the helicopter rides is Argentinian.  However, Argentina decided no helicopters on their side because they disturb animals, the environment.  The ride is short and relatively expensive.  Gaston protested it cost too much.  I am conservative about money but thought about it and decided, “I may never be here again.  Gaston’s last trip here occurred when he was six, nearly two decades ago.  We are going to do this.”  This was Gaston’s first helicopter ride.

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Even from a helicopter it is nearly impossible to see all the falls at once.

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The left side is Brazil, the right Argentina.  The falls in Argentina continue to the right beyond this photo.  The immensity of this natural wonder never ceases to amaze.

 

 

Adventure in Argentina–Iguazu Falls, Day One


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We landed at the jungle airport near the down of Iguazu, found a taxi (the taxi to our hotel was only 5 dollars more than the bus), and continued our adventure.  Gaston and I felt lucky; the lady taxi driver gave us excellent service and advice for our three day sojourn at Iguazu.  She suggested we head to the Brazilian side of the falls first because the trails are fewer and it was later in the day.  All you have to do is provide your passport, roll down your window so they can look at your face, and proceed.  At the Brazilian park headquarters everyone has to wait for a bus, which can drop visitors off at various points along hiking trails.  The above was one of my first views of the falls.

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It became clear almost immediately that it would be impossible to see all the falls from any single place; they are immense to the point of unbelievable, overwhelming.  You hear the roar long before you see the cause. At this vantage point, I am standing on Brazilian soil looking across to the Argentinian side.  The center of river which causes the falls provides the boundary between Brazil and Argentina.

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To reach this vantage point, the trail winds down a rather steep incline.  Everything is wet from the mist which is so extensive, it is impossible to be anywhere near and not become somewhat wet. A trail proceeds from here below the falls out over a part of the river where it is like being in your bathroom shower. Gaston took many photos here. The roar of the falls is so loud it is impossible to carry on a conversation.

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Coatimundis are everywhere. On the Brazil side in particular huge signs are posted with a person displaying bleeding, serious injuries inflicted by these seemingly harmless creatures.  The instructions tell visitors not to feed them, try to pet them, anything.  The result may not be good if you do.

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The roar, the immensity, overtakes ones emotions.  The power of water a millionfold, displayed in all its grandeur overwhelms.

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In Brazil looking across to Argentina.

 

 

 

 

Amazon


His milk chocolate, heavy lidded eyes stare at me from the

front of the magazine.

His cheeks display charcoal tattoos, a criss cross

design, tiny Xs on top, stopping where his nostrils flare.

His straight hair barely touches his shoulders.

not the black I expected, but the color of mahogany.

His eyebrows grow thin and wide,

no visible eyelashes.

His skin, color of morning coffee with two teaspoons of milk,

looks clear, smooth.

His full lips only slightly darker than his skin

do not smile.

He, a Kayapo Indian, continues staring.

He lives in Kayapo Territory, Brazil, land the size of

Great Britain and Ireland.

He plans to save it from the rest of us.

He plans to save us from our own worst selves.

 

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The Kayapo and other indigenous Amerindians have lived in the rainforest for millennia.  They and most environmentalists view their rainforest as a priceless haven for biodiversity.  Their Amazon remains a major defense in the fight against global warming and habitat destruction.  Fifteen per cent of greenhouse emissions, more than all the trucks, cars, buses, and planes combined, come from deforestation.  Although Brazil has slowed the deforestation rate by 70 per cent in the last nine years, last year saw a reversal with an sudden increase of 30 per cent.  Brazil also began construction of a network of canals, dams, and a huge hydroelectric project on the Xingu River in the middle of Kayapo territory.  The Kayapo and other Amerindians defeated a larger project in the 1990s. They intend to defeat this one.

The chief of the Kayapo, Megaron, knows what is at stake, not only for his tribe, but also for the rest of us, long term survival.  One  National Geographic article noted, “It is one of the richest ironies of the Amazon that the supposedly civilized outsiders who spent five centuries evangelizing, exploiting, and exterminating aboriginal people are now turning to them to save ecosystems recognized as critical to the health of the planet–to defend essential tracts of land from the outside world’s insatiable appetite.”

Kayapo success can be attributed to their ability to embrace some of the best of the modern world while retaining a strong sense of identity, culture, and traditions, all of which come from the forest.  As Megaron notes, “Before the white man, we were always fighting other tribes.  Not anymore.  We stopped hitting each other over the head and united against a bigger threat.”  For our own long term health and success, we can support them and hope they succeed.