Falling in Brazil

2014.Nov.15 Saturday · 1 comment

in Life, Restaurants

So it was off the next morning bright and early to the Brazilian side of the Iguazu Falls. The question for me was whether my DNI would get me across the border without a visa. According to the Brazilian embassy, Americans are required to have visas even if they have a Mercosur residency DNI. According to the tour company, not remotely necessary. And, I’ve heard mixed tales – some folk seem to breeze across the border, even with just a passport and no visa, depending on who they’re with, other folk get turned back, and in one case of some people I know, they breezed across, but when they came back to cross back into Argentina were detained for most of a day because they’d entered Brazil illegally. I’d already told the tour company that if there was a problem, they could have someone pick me up there at the border and Henry would continue on and take lots of photos. In the end, not a problem.

Lots of time spent, as the tour guide was very disorganized – I don’t quite get why they didn’t have a printed out list of all the people on the bus ready for immigration – they had one for him to pick us up at our various hotels – they could print one out with all the required info. Instead, he sat there, with us in the bus, for over half an hour, writing down each of our names, passport/DNI numbers, etc., and then went inside and spent another ten minutes going over the whole list with an immigration official on the Argentine side for us all to leave, and another twenty on the Brazilian side for us all to enter. Interestingly, on the return, the whole process, both sides combined, took under ten minutes.

Rather than select out a few photos of the nearly 200 I took, I put together a little video of a mix of photos and towards the end, video of the Brazilian side of the Falls. Look, my general view of waterfalls is that they’re water falling off a rock. Moderately interesting, pretty to look at, not something I go out of my way for generally. But, we had to see these once. And, I admit, they’re impressive. To see once.

We’d booked a side trip to Itaipu, a hydroelectric dam project that’s supposed to be pretty impressive itself. But Henry wasn’t feeling well, and I was pretty worn down as well – we still basically hadn’t slept more than a few hours in the past two days. So we bailed on that side trip (a loss of 160 pesos to the tour company, but, we didn’t have to pay the entrance fee at the dam), and continued back with the other folk. A stop at Rafain for lunch – basically a big touristy buffet spot, and in the evening they have folklore shows (our guide offered us, for another 100 and something pesos, to have us picked up and brought back if we wanted to see the show…). The food was pretty basic, some of it regional and authentic, but nothing special. It’s an all you can eat buffet – 185 pesos apiece plus beverage.

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From there we passed through the Brazilian side of immigration, and then our guide dumped us off at the Duty Free shopping mall – for nearly two hours. We were done in fifteen minutes and that was too much. But, he and the bus driver had taken off for parts unknown, we had to wait. We should have just sucked it up and grabbed a taxi at the taxi stand and headed back to the hotel. Still not sure why we didn’t.

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An hour at the hotel’s spa, then dinner at another recommended restaurant, Acva, Av. Cordoba y Carlos Thays back in Puerto Iguazu. Specialist in local fish. Henry went for a seasonal salad, I had the coconut prawns – good, though not served with the “spicy guacamole” promised on the menu, instead with mayo filled with chopped pickles and mustard seeds – waiter’s response was “avocados aren’t in season” – first, not true, they’re all over the marketplaces there, and second, how about telling the guests when they order something? Still, overall his service was great. Main courses – Henry went for a simple grilled surubí, a type of catfish – perfectly cooked, delicious. I went for one of the more elaborate dishes (of course) – not quite so successful – pacú, a type of piranha, topped with an asparagus gratin (translated as “grated asparagus” on the menu), onion jam, and underneath, a “heart of palm ragu”. The ragu had way too many capers in it and was overpowering, the onion jam was way too sweet. I knocked both of those to the side, ate the fish and asparagus with a good lashing of chipotle tabasco sauce (there’s little that can’t be improved with that). High prices on the winelist – around three to four times retail (at least based on BA prices, not sure about local Iguazu prices). Dinner came in at 670 pesos plus tip.

Back to the hotel for some much needed sleep. Tomorrow, the Argentine side of the Falls.

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