02 Feb – 03 Feb
My foray into new territory in the form of Brazil did not get off to a good start. I caught the 12 noon bus from Puerto Iguazu to Foz with the intention of visiting the park within the day, and taking an overnight bus to Florianopolis – the bus journey to Foz was supposed to take an hour, and the park closed at 6, so I figured I had plenty of time to catch the 8pm bus to Florianopolis. Passing through Argentinian customs was a cinch, but Brazil took a little more time, and when we were done, our bus was gone. I figured the bus would arrive pretty soon, so I hung around the bus stop waiting patiently. When a bus finally appeared (a good 45 minutes later), it wasn’t the same bus company as the one I had set out on, and I had to pay the 15pesos again. To add to the annoyance, I found out while waiting for the bus that despite being barely 5km apart, Brazil and Argentina do not operate in the same time zone, because Brazil has daylight savings time and Argentina doesn’t. It just goes to show, eh? When I finally arrived in Foz, it was past 2pm, which I thought still gave me enough time to hit the falls and be on my way to Florianopolis on the last bus there. Asking at the info desk yielded bad news however. It turns out Foz has TWO bus terminals, and the one I was at was the internal bus terminal serving Foz, but the company selling tickets to Florianopolis was at the terminal half an hour away. The girl at the info desk said I could get tickets from tour companies a couple of blocks away, and that there were ATMs there for me to get Brazilian reals, so off I went. Except…it was SUNDAY. All the tour offices were closed, and I didn’t manage to find an ATM that accepted international cards, so after half an hour of wandering (and finally managing to get some money out of an ATM at a supermarket), I headed back to the info desk, feeling like I didn’t like Brazil very much at all.
There was a different lady at the info desk this time, and she apologized for her incompetent colleague and tried to help me as best as she could. Her suggestion was to catch the next bus to the park and try as best as I could to catch the last bus to Florianopolis, failing which I could stay at a hostel anyway. It sounded like a good plan, but as always with these things, I missed the bus, and the next one was an hour from then, so I headed to the bus station instead to get my ticket to Florianopolis, and then settled in at a(n expensive) hostel for the night. I spent a relatively quiet evening at the hostel with some of the people at the hostel, and made plans to go to the falls the next day with a girl staying at the hostel. The next day, we (I’ve forgotten the name of the girl I went with, I think it was Amanda) headed to the falls after breakfast – it took over an hour to get there (there being the falls themselves because after taking a bus to the entrance of the falls, there was another internal shuttle we had to take to get to the falls), so I was pretty glad I hadn’t tried to rush through it the day before. The part of the national reserve open to the public in Brazil is much smaller than that in Argentina, so it was entirely possible to explore the park in one day, unless you planned to do some of the extreme sports (rafting, bungee, etc). I didn’t feel like blowing a ton of cash on something so touristy, so we wandered around and…took pictures of the waterfalls.
We were done by 2pm and took a break before heading back to the city. My bus to Florianopolis was only at 8 in the evening, so I figured I would hang around the hostel till 7 before setting out. When I got to the bus station to catch the bus to the other bus station, however, I found out that the buses didn’t run that regularly – I had missed the 6.50pm bus, and the next bus was only at 8.20pm. Thankfully, I managed to catch a cab at the bus station and made it in time for my bus to Florianopolis, feeling pretty glad that my visa for Brazil was only valid for 30 days so I wouldn’t have to spend too much time (and money) in this utterly confusing country. All in all, Foz did not give me a good first impression of Brazil 😦