October 3, 2004 - Foz Do Iguacu 238k, 86m***

We made it all the way to Paraguay today. Our guidebook says “Paraguay for the first time can be something of a shock, culturally, psychologically and physically.” It was for us. After riding across the majestic Ponte da Amizade frontier bridge and checking out Ciudad del Este, our little riding team high-tailed it back to Brazil.

We started riding in Cascavel after ending in Guaraniacu yesterday. Lack of hotels, darkness and rain motivated us to take the 36-mile drive to Cascavel, the next decent sized town. We had an OK dinner in the bar at the Picasso Restaurant (private party below, most places closed on a Sunday night) and fell asleep at the Casa Verde Hotel. Night passed quickly. At 5:30a we were woken by some exceptionally loud yelling and music.

The view toward the sound from our 8th floor window.

The towns in Parana all seem to try to be a bit creative, like Curitiba. Cascavel’s main road through town has a straight road on going one way and a winding road on the other. In any case, the early morning resulted in a Bob nap on our second break of the day after 45 miles of riding.

This was yet another very hot, very hilly day, all on 2 lane roads of varying quality. We remain riding almost straight west on Brasil 277, as we have for the past few days. The views are continuously of farms. Eduardo did manage to find an overpass and take pictures of us coming and going.

This is the best roadsign we’ve seen so far.

We were motivated to make it to our first border crossing today and rode strongly. Here’s our first of the great Parana River looking north from the Brazil side. That’s Paraguay on the left.

Eduardo got this picture of us passing out of Brazil, just before the bridge, and I took the following one of Dalton hesitating before entering Paraguay on the other side.

Why was Dalton hesitating? Intelligence maybe? Ciudade del Este is a “grubby, chaotic city” and “one of South America’s most corrupt cities”. The place is dirty, the infrastructure crumbling and the street merchants literally run alongside as you pass, yelling in Portuguese or Spanish. There is basically no border control.

We packed our bikes on the Fiat, and drove back across the border to check out the famous Foz do Iguacu waterfalls from the Brazilian side. By then it was 5:30pm and the last tourist bus (the only way they let you get to the falls) was gone. After another moments disappointment, we remembered a helicopter sightseeing trip we had just driven by. Here’s Dalton with his ticket (first helicopter ride).

They have two relatively new Bell Jet Ranger helicopters flying in rotation, 10-minute flights to see the falls. Here’s the view.

The falls are over 3 km wide and 80 meters high, which makes them wider than Victoria falls and higher than Niagara falls. The river looks more like a lake as it approaches a cliff, and the water just flows off the edge. Next time we will take the bus or a boat and get closer. Looks like lots of fun.

We’re staying tonight at the Bourbon Resort Hotel, the only ***** of the trip. Meals included. Last night we paid about $4 each for room and breakfast. Today it’s closer to $120, but it includes a gourmet dinner and a much better breakfast, and we’re about to enter godforsaken Paraguay tomorrow.

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