The devil straddled the river and opened his throat to the world. Submerged in a steamy heat, his life poured out from him through a stony gash that fell away abruptly. A writhing madness of white foam and water spewed from his throat and fell earthward, dissipating into a fine mist that added itself to the weight of the hot wet air. The dense trees that lined either side of the river echoed the roar of the convulsing monster, they answered the tumult with the shrill call of brightly coloured birds and the deep booming of the jungle, hidden deep within the dark bowels of undergrowth. From the vantage point above him I watched, I was lost in the maniacal screaming of the dark water, as it slipped effortlessly over the edge and was lost to paradise. The rocky cliffs fanned out in every direction, they gave way at impossible angles and submitted the river to the torment of gravity, forcing the water down, pushing it, pulverizing it, piecing it back together, peacefully floating on, the recent clash a distant echo of a memory. The water calls to me, it draws me in and whispers in my ear, it comforts me, convinces me. I feel myself floating in the warm dark water, everything submerged except for my face and fingertips. I see myself slipping over the edge, hurtling down, wrapped in a blanket of white, choked by the spray and the speed. I hear myself falling, the absence of sound, the absence of thought, I am floating in silence. I crash into the bubbling storm of water, like mist I dissipate into a million infinitesimal pieces that are scattered across the universe. I step back from the railing and smile, I turn my back on the damp heat of the jungle, and begin the journey back towards the spine of the world.
After an overnight bus out of Cordoba, we arrived in the hot wetness of Iguazu in the Argentine Amazon. The town lies on the border of Argentina and Brazil, and is on the frontier of the Amazon jungle. The transition from dusty Mendoza and the lowlands of Cordoba to Iguazu was incredible. We woke up to green jungle on either side of the road and a thick mist of hot condensation that limply hung in the air all morning. We found a hostel close to the bus station and immediately set out to see Iguazu National Park, the home of the Cataratas del Iguazú. The name Iguazu comes from the native word for ‘water’ and ‘big’, which is a pretty appropriate name for it, the Devil’s Throat (the main fall) is three times bigger than Niagara, and the collection of falls are longer than Victoria Falls, however they are separated by islands. Upon arriving at the national park, which was only a 30 mins bus ride out of town, we were greeted by a mini stampede of animals called ‘cote’, they were the jungle version of raccoons and had absolutely no fear or inhibition from people.
We spent the day exploring all the minor falls and the jungle, before jumping on a train that takes you up to the main fall, the Garganta del Diablo, (The Devil’s Throat). I had read about the awe-inspiring immensity of the throat but nothing could prepare me for how incredible it was. From the train we could hear the roar of the falls and it grew in intensity the closer we got. I had read that the speed of the water falling has some effect on people’s moods and that waterfalls are thought to make people happy, as crazy as it sounds I could feel something in the air the closer we got, maybe it was the excitement or the sun, but by the time we reached the fall I was on top of the world. As you walked along the boardwalk you could see the dark calm water all of a sudden turn to a chaotic white foam that disappeared behind rocks and bushes, and then the boardwalk opened up over the falls. The view from above the falls was mindblowing, the sheer awesomeness of nature and the power of the water falling took your breath away. I had read that many people get the feeling of going over the falls, and there had been cases of people throwing themselves into the falls, and I could definitely understand it, something about the falls pulls you in, like there is something waiting at the bottom.
We returned to the hostel and by chance some fellow travellers we had met in Mendoza were lounging around having a beer, we joined them for food and some drinks before heading to bed to get another day wandering around the park in the next day. We returned to the park and followed a trail that took you deeper into the jungle, I was hoping to catch a glimpse of some monkeys and other wildlife. Unfortunately all we saw was a couple fleeting shadows and the sound of a monkey far in the distance, but we did come across a small spring with a waterfall that was perfect for swimming around in and sharing some maté with an Argentine family that was hanging out on the rocks.
Afterwards we trekked back through the jungle, still no monkey sightings, and heading back to the Devil’s Throat for one last look before heading back to the hostel for some food and beers with friends, we jumped on a bus for Mendoza at 1am that morning , the trip to Mendoza was about 35 hours straight, and another 8 hours from Mendoza to Santiago, some how we survived despite the bus playing Adam Sandler’s “Jack and Jill” in Spanish 4 times. We crossed the Andes and settled back into Santiago for a couple days of relaxing before I headed back to studying and she headed back to Canada. Back packing through Argentina was an unreal experience, it was my first time outside of Chile and showed me how awesome life on the road can be, I got to experience an amazing country with an amazing person and Argentina will always hold a special place in my heart.