First a Fall and then a Trap! - Day 435
What a day! From Brazil to Argentina, first a Fall and then a trap.
Our next host, had kindly arranged for a Taxi to take us to the Iguazu Falls on the Brazilian side and then across the border to get money and sim (or chip as it is called here), finally onto her place. We sensed that as we reached the dual carriageway, the taxi driver was going to take us the wrong way. We were right. Translation had failed us. She thought we wanted to go to the Argentina Iguazu Falls, but that’s for tomorrow.
Eventually, we got to the right place “Three hours, and I come back” she said. Three hours? We thought we’d only be there for 30 minutes. How wrong were we? After paying for our tickets and queuing for 15 minutes, we got the bus taking us through the National Park’s beautiful jungle with loads of butterflies flitting around.
We had arrived at the Falls and greeted by such a fantastic sight. A massive bowl with tons of water cascading down with white froth exploding like a volcanic eruption. It was as if the land had been sliced in half in the middle of a large river with endless water pouring down the massive gap. In fact, there is a legend about this place of a God who wanted to marry a beautiful young lady called Naipi. She ran off with her mortal lover Tarobá down the river in a canoe. In a rage, the god sliced the river and condemned the lovers to an eternal fall. Ah – I wasn’t too far wrong then!
Suddenly, we noticed a few people leaning over a wooden barrier and taking photos. A giant black and white Tegu lizard was basking in the sun. Later we saw a couple of Coatis, part of the racoon family. These animals are becoming a bit of a pest, or is it us humans who are the pest? They are inquisitive and greedy, often rummaging in people’s bags to find food. One of the Coatis we saw had extracted a plastic bag from someone and was enjoying eating it! I’m sure it will regret this tomorrow. They may look cuddly in their thick fur and long ringed tail, but once you see their sharp teeth and claws, they are an animal to avoid.
Anyhow, back to the waterfalls which make up the largest waterfall system in the world. We carried along the pathways and reached the suspended, metal walkway taking us over to the middle of the Devil's Throat canyon. Oh my! Imagine being in the middle of a giant, u-shaped ravine with waterfalls plummeting over 70m surrounding you. You get wet. Very wet and oh so refreshing in the scorching heat.
We made our way back with big grins on our faces. We had heard that the Argentinian side is even better than the Brazilian side but just could not envisage that this was possible. We will have to decide for ourselves tomorrow.
We finally reached our Airbnb after a leisurely drive through passport control, getting a large wodge of pesos and two Sims. Our host greeted us warmly but seemed tired. She runs the place nearly single-handedly, looking after guests in five rooms, plus her 6 cats and 7 dogs. We can see that this place was, at one point, fabulous, however now it is looking tired. The door didn’t have a handle, so we needed to lift it and slide it from the bottom each time we opened or closed it and also had to ask to put the pump on each time we wanted a shower. The kitchen definitely had seen better days, with the bottom hinge of the fridge broken and held in place with a block of wood. It seemed more like a hostel for #grownuptravellers; our 2nd in a week. Oh well, the room was large, and our host’s homely, comfortable manner made up for the ramshackle charm of the place.
We got chatting to a lovely young lady from Chile called Fer who now lives in Buenos Aires. She was just about to visit the Mbyá Guarani community, who are the original inhabitants of the Atlantic Forest here and invited us along. We jumped at the chance. It turned out that the taxi driver, Christian, knew the tribe well and when we arrived, introduced us to one of the elders, who gave us a huge hug. What a lovely greeting. He then went off to find Loruah, one of the tribe members who could speak a tiny bit of English.
The three of us followed Loruah down a dirt track through the jungle, and he explained to us that the Mbyá Guarani do not use the written word. Knowledge is handed down by spoken language only, (any words I have included, I have made up the spellings based on phonetics). He shared that there are about 80 communities in this region with a population of about 6,300 people. Here in his community is about 200 people, made up of 58 families.
Similar to the indigenous people of Australia, Loruah explained that they do not relate to time. There is no past or future, only this moment now. I find this fascinating. If you think about the western society rife with anxieties, these are usually about concerns of what might happen in the future that hasn’t even happened yet. Also, people angst over regrets and grief based on memories of the past. Imagine if we had no concept of past or future, would this eliminate so much mental suffering I wonder?
Along the forest walk Loruah showed us various traps; their hunting secrets. One called a Lua Corte was to catch Armadillos. This was like a pyramid made of sticks and filled with leaves. The Armadillo comes up through the earth to the top, but because it cannot walk backwards, gets trapped. The other snares were for Coatis, Wild Pig and Partridge. I must admit that I made an excellent impression of each animal getting killed which Fer and Loruah found hilarious. I think my Wild Pig impression with sound effects was the best!
As we were coming to a clearing, we saw two men making bundles from the long grass. They were re-roofing a building used for the community’s spiritual ceremonies. Each person has a role in the community, based on their name. So, for example, Loruah means flame and his role is to light the fire.
Further along the path, about 10 children aged from toddlers to teenagers arrived to sing to us. A guitar appeared, and Loruah spent quite some time getting the instrument tuned. Meanwhile, the children got bored waiting for him so started to sing unaccompanied. After a few songs and much clapping from us, they wandered off. Loruah never did play the guitar!
Our tour was over. It was a wonderful experience finding out a bit about these indigenous people; their relationship with nature, their spirituality and way of life. We love it when we get such an intriguing, unplanned experience like this. We are fortunate indeed.