10 December 2006

Iguazú

I’ve located the most refreshing shower. Ever. But first, just imagine hiking through unbearable heat for over 90 minutes. The sun is unrelenting, and if you’re like me and have radically fair skin, you’re terrified of its short and long term effects. Add a slight chance of malaria infection, and you’ll find yourself hiking covered from head to toe in order to protect yourself from the elements.

So you’re sweating, horribly so, and your skin is dripping sunscreen and high levels of DEET mosquito repellent. You are insanely jealous of the carefree, tanned young women all around you that are making the journey in only a bikini top, tiny shorts and flip flops. But you know you can never be one of them. Despite your gross differences in coolness and sex appeal, you all press expectantly forward as the scenery sooths your physical traumas and the roar of the falls grows closer.


At last, you are there! La Garganta del Diablo (The Devil’s Throat/Gorge) spreads before you in unspeakable, majestic beauty. You stride the remaining steps and grasp the railing with trembling hands, and look down into the water thundering below. And the shower begins.

The wind changes direction and the spray gently but persistently soaks your skin, like the most exclusive H2O treatment available on the planet. It massages your pores and caresses your hair. It peppers your sunglasses with curious droplets. The strenuous journey forgotten, you alternate closing your eyes and giving yourself to the ecstasy of the mist and opening them again, to view the cascades before you and the delightful rainbows they almost constantly create.

This is only one part of the magic surrounding Iguazú Falls. Hours of trails await the visitor, each containing another delightful surprise. It’s worth the heat and suffering – in fact, I think the heat and suffering make the beauty of these falls all the more worthwhile to explore.

And even though I’m now experiencing a very different, even more spectacular destination, I still find myself swatting away non-existent mosquitoes.

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