Today began with a fittingly panoramic view of a brilliant sunrise over Ciudad del Este and the river that forms the Paraguay-Argentina-Brazil border, as seen from the transparent elevator in the Hotel Panorama. Yesterday we had just arrived in Ciudad del Este, and tomorrow we will make the big trip back to Asunción to begin another week of demanding, yet rewarding community service, but today was packed with beautiful sightseeing. While our time in this part of the country has been restful, it has also been exhilarating. After learning so much about the country we are staying in and seeing the famous Iguazu Falls and the massive Itaipu Dam, I cannot wait to commence the rest of what has so far been an unbelievable trip.
After taking my first warm shower in a while, I went down in the great glass elevator to a somewhat early breakfast. To my elation the breakfast buffet included a delicious drink called cocido, which my host family introduced to me. Cocido is a warm tea-like beverage made with milk and sugar. It is fair to say that I have become hooked on it during my time in Isla Pucu. After breakfast we lathered up on all sorts of bug spray and headed out to a ferry which took us to the Argentina side of the river. From there we boarded a bus that took us to the Iguazu Falls.
In one word the falls were spectacular. We took a train out to see the first main attraction Garganta del Diablo (Devils’s Throat). We were able to stand about five feet above immense quantities of water, all channeling down at incredible velocities into a foggy white abyss. It felt unreal. The drenching mist billowing up into the warm sunlight created a huge rainbow over the Falls, making for some great photos. The bug situation was considerably better there than I had expected, and I ended up with almost no bites. Later on, we got to stand on a platform that placed us about ten feet away from the middle of a massive cascade. From there we could get a good sense not only of the sheer magnitude, but also the incredible force with which the water barreled down the rocky edges. It was well worth the completely drenched set of clothes, and it so far is the highlight of the trip.
After the Falls, we returned to Ciudad del Este around 3:00. We went to a restaurant near the hotel for a late lunch followed by the hotel for some rest. At the hotel I used the internet for only the second time in over a week (impressive, I know) and hung out at the pool. Then at around 6:30 we took off for our second sight of the day to the Itaipu Dam.
While we had a bit of a long wait before boarding the tour bus, I am glad we got to see the dam. Like the waterfalls it was also FREAKING HUGE! At night, they present a special light show where the dam slowly illuminates to music. What I liked even more than the light show was actually driving at the base of the dam on the way back. This allowed us to take in its immense size, marveling at the human ingenuity required to perform such a spectacular feat. As of last year, Itaipu generates more electricity than any other hydroelectric dam in the world.
Will S., Richard Montgomery High School