(Lots of photos on this page, so be patient with the loading time.)
At 6:40am, somewhere in Argentina, the bus broke down. It pulled over and everyone had to get off and wait for a replacement. Minor inconvenience. We only had to wait a half hour. The total bus journey was 9pm-11am.
Eli showed me her passport photo (age 16) when we left Uruguay and I thought she looked like someone but I couldn't figure it out. I got it today: Laura Kightlinger.
Toward the end of the ride they showed a Bob Marley DVD. I was hoping bandits would ambush the bus so that I could take one of their guns and shoot out both TVs. My theory is that Bob Marley recorded one 70-minute song, and what we think are his songs are just 4-minute snippets of the larger work.
The bus terminated on the Argentina side of Iguassu Falls and we took a van from there into Brazil (country #32). We didn't have to leave the van going through the border and the yellow fever cards were not required. So Lance got his jab for nothing.
We checked into the Hotel del Rey, which was relatively swanky and had a pool. Foz do Iguacu was humid just like Salto, and my electric razor didn't work. I had to use my manual razor to finish the job. On my face I mean. Not down there. No more razors down there. No siree Bob.
(Previous sentence is a Ned Flanders line and has nothing to do with my roommate Bob. In case you're not hip.)
While unpacking I realized that my digital watch was gone. It must have fallen out on the bus when I was taking things out of my bag. It cost me $25 in the mid-'90s but it served as my alarm clock and had some sentimental value. I got it on a famous shopping spree in Westwood when Mike and I walked into an electronics store and Mike asked the clerk "show me the cheapest, most unfashionable watch you have". I bought the second-cheapest.
Someone (Roberto?) informed us that it was 42°C (108°F) in Iguacu.
We went for a helicopter ride over Iguassu Falls, my first ever.
The whirlybird waiting for us.
When we took off and climbed it felt like the ET ride at Universal Studios. Like we were on a track. Didn't feel like floating at all.
Out the front of the helicopter.
The following uncaptioned photos are of the falls from the chopper:
Eli in the chopper.
Next we walked down the trail on the Brazilian side of the falls for a closer look.
I forget the names of all the falls, but this is where the boat would take us later on, and that beach is the island where we would hike to that lookout point.
This photo is not substantially different in quality or content from the previous one. And yet I can't look away.
Our first complete group photo: Bob, Graham, John, Brid, Shaneela, Radha, Lance, Lori, Eli, me.
Artistic-ass shot of the falls.
A coati! These benevolent creatures are as cute and cuddly as the warnings advised us.
Aw! He started to go into my bag. Coatis are aggressive and powerful.
Here are a bunch of uncaptioned photos. Enjoy the majesty of Iguassu Falls:
Poorly-lit shot of the 21-37 faction of the group. I don't know where 46-57 went. It just occurred to me that I'm the Julio Franco of this faction: an ageless wonder who can still contribute, if you know what I mean.
Great angle. Bad photo.
This was after we took the elevator back up.
Hey, we were down there before.
We had lunch on the premises. I had a cheeseburger. It took a full-time person to keep the coatis away from the people eating on the patio.
Coatis at play.
Coati burying or digging up treasure.
At an ATM (or "hole in the wall" as they call them in Eli's remote village) I withdrew R$750, which is about US$350. I thought that might be too much. Looking forward to the evening, I mentioned caipirinhas (the Brazilian national drink) and Eli said they make her flirty. I concluded that R$750 was not too much if it could be spent on caipirinhas.
After the falls we stopped at a supermarket to get beer and also some non-beer items. Mostly beer. I ran into Eli with my shopping cart, but it was oddly-shaped, and I ran into two other things as well. I mean two things, not two other things.
Before going out to dinner we played ball in the hotel pool. Simple game where you had to catch the ball with one hand and then pass it to a random person. If you missed, you drank. I was in a bad spot (back to the kiddy pool, no support) and had to chug 5 beers due to my embarrassing performance, and the fact that people were gunning for me. And one of my off-balance desperation passes hit Eli square in the mouth and chipped a tooth, but it was the same tooth she'd chipped earlier trying to bite the bottlecap off a beer bottle.
In the pool we determined that Lance looks like Russell Crowe. I suggested that Graham looks like an amalgam of Rainn Wilson, Kevin Covais and Anthony Federov.
I stopped by my room and when I walked out I muttered "205" so I'd remember my room number. John was standing nearby and accused me of saying "fuck off" and a standoff ensued. He called me Tom Hanks. I got on one knee in the Snuka pose and threw out the two consecutive Oscars. John backed off.
At dinner the waiters kept bringing around different flavors of pizza and we took whatever we wanted.
My first caipirinha, at dinner.
After all that pizza we were informed that if you didn't clean your plate, an extra 10% charge would be incurred. So Eli scooped 5-7 slices into a napkin and secretly threw them away.
From the restaurant we took taxis to a club (called Uno or something). On the way, Roberto said he had been independently considering the roommate realignment. Again, it was ultimately vetoed.
At the club I came close to freaking out because I couldn't find my camera. I searched frantically through my bag for it. Then someone pointed out that it was on my shoulder.
This club reminded me of the IHM church basement. The wall of alcohol is the stage, the band area is the storage area at the end with the second level, the stairs are in the right spot, and the kitchen is the kitchen:
Whoa! I didn't notice until now that the club also had a disco ball, almost in the same spot as IHM.
I think I had one caipirinha and sips from some mohitos here. Eli and I and someone else(?) took a taxi back and I went to bed at 2:30.