Water water everywhere

Trip Start Feb 15, 2006
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Trip End Feb 14, 2007


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Flag of Paraguay  ,
Monday, December 4, 2006

Thanks to a clever salesman at the local tourist company, although we
had arrived in the Brazilian city of Foz to see the Iguassu waterfalls,
our first morning was spent in Paraguay nowhere near the falls at all.
Two rivers join here, the Iguassu and the Parana, and the middle of
the junction is the point where Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay
meet -  the so called triple frontier .


Reading something about this area on the internet, it seems that
George Bush is convinced that the whole triple border area is rife with
bandidos and terrorists that are linked to Al Queda. We didn't know this
at the time, so we thought nothing of the decision to cross into
Paraguay illegally by taking a boat over the river instead of driving over the bridge and going through the normal border controls.

Anyway, there were no mishaps en route (although it would have been nice to collect another stamp in the passport) and we stepped ashore into Paraguay. We were in  secondary rain forest
and found an idyllic setting
where a Swiss doctor had set up shop to study malaria which unfortunately, he ended up catching himself. We went on into the forest where we had to ask permission of the harp playing Guarani Indian witch doctor to visit his village. We found them ready for Christmas, so the Swiss doctor had taught them something before he snuffed it.

Now Paraguay is a little different to the rest of South America. It seems that the Brazilians were nicking all the men as slaves and the Spanish were offered some 30 wives each so that they would stay and defend them from the slave traders. I guess the Spanish must have used the country for  R & R and didn't act the big tough colonial bully quite so much here. For example, the main language is still the indigenous Indian language and not Spanish.

Back out of the country the way we came in, still no sign of terrorist training camps, we went off to see the Iguassu falls from the Brazilian side. Only 25% of the falls are on their side of the border and although you can get a better view of the whole site, the experience was definitely more rewarding on the Argentinian side when we went the next day. Here having got soaked in a powerboat ride up the rapids and under the falls,  we got soaked again as we were able walk right up to the top of the Devil's Throat.   We loved it, it was so hot and humid that a nice dowsing of spray was just the ticket.

The Iguassu falls are a must on any visit to South America   and we weren't the only ones that thought so. We met up with a couple that we had met some six weeks earlier in the Galapagos and enjoyed a Brazilian "barbecue" restaurant where the waiters keep arriving at the table with different meats and different cuts of meat on swords trying to encourage you to stuff in just one more piece before you hit the puddings!!

We allowed four nights for Iguassu which was one too many so we took in a tour of the Itaipu dam. Massive was the word and we were pleased to see that just for once the Chinese don't have the biggest and best. This 20 year old dam produces more electricity than will the new Three Gorges dam being built in China - do you remember my blog saying that the Chinese are running out of water, well the Parana river (which we had never heard of) has a lot more water than that Yangtze. 
Next stop, Brazilian air traffic control willing - Rio ( A couple of weeks earlier, our airline, TAM, lost their brand new plane in a mid air collision and, not surprisingly, the air traffic controllers got the blame  so, not surprisingly,  now they are on strike) 
   

 
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Comments

paraguayan
paraguayan on

Not quite accurate about some things.
The bombing of a Buenos Aires Jewish cultural center in 1994, killing at least 85 persons, and injuring hundreds, is believed to be linked to international, primarly Islamic, terrorists.

The then government of Argentina was accused of corruptly handling the investigation, but the money trail let to CDE, Paraguay's second largest city. It is known for its contraband, smuggling, and money laundering -- more so even than other countries in the cocaine/marijuana belt.

Readers of this blog will be misinformed if they think the area is not a locus of national and international terrorism finance. A simple search on the net would reveal that fact, though the author of this particular entry dismisses it.

Here is a quote from a 2004 Los Angeles Times article ten years after the bombing, this being just one of terrorist attacks which were likely funded and supplied through CDE, Paraguay, and Brazil:

'Clues indicating the plot's international dimension are found in phone records. From July 1 to 18, 1994, the day of the attack, someone made calls on a Brazilian-registered cellphone from Buenos Aires to locations in Lebanon, Germany, Iran, New York and the border area where Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay meet near Iguacu Falls.'

Yes, the newspaper spelled the name of the falls incorrectly.

Paraguay is a lovely country with some great people, and it should be on your list of places to go. But do not believe that there is not a reason for the Paraguayans (the honest ones) to be very careful about things. There are no terrorist training camps per se. But there is terrorist activity with links to CDE and Paraguay -- the 1994 bombing being one particular example. The tourist knowledgeable about this understands better the reasons for the measures Paraguay has made on its borders and internally. It is not all fairy tale, as the author of this otherwise informative post implies.

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