01 April 2012

Week 81: Trip to Iguazu Falls Day 5

On this day we decided to explore some of the sites around the town of Iguaçu Falls. First we headed up to Itaipu Dam, on of the world's largest dams and listed as one of the wonders of the modern world. This dam took about 20 years to build with the last of the generators coming online only a few years ago. It supplies 100% of the electricity needs of Paraguay and 20% of Brazil. We took the panoramic tour by a double-decker bus which drives below the dam, crosses into Paraguay and then takes the passengers back across the top of the dam. A tour guide provides information in Portuguese and in English, and once again, there were more jokes and details in the Portuguese version. It is a huge structure, and represents a massive binational project that now employs directly or indirectly most of the population in this region.

I noticed later that this sculpture is anatomically correct.

Just down the road from the dam is the Ecomuseum, a museum sponsored by the energy company that runs the dam. Admission is discounted if paid for at the same time as tickets for the dam tour. This museum highlights some of the cultural and natural history in the area, and tells the story of the building of the dam. One of the interesting aspects of the dam is the amount of community involvement that has been included, recognizing that there were many things that would be destroyed. On the other hand, the community involvement added a whole view in developing the economy and ecology of the area, such as including a long fish ladders which are also used as kayaking lanes, fish farming, educational programs, and a new university, all supported by the income generated by energy production. The museum guide also pointed out at that most of the land that was flooded by the new lake had already been cleared for farming. One of the environmetal projects has actually been to plant forests and restore buffer zones and immigration pathways along the rivers and streams. Another interesting fact was that the monthly restocking of the newstand in the dam during the construction saw one day sales of 18,000 plus copies of Playboy magazine.

An old sugar cane press.

Relief map of the area before the dam.

Another relief map of the area. The screens access information about the various projects being implemented in the surrounding communities.

Sections of a wall removed from the worker's quarters with drawings by one of the laborers. The quarters have been turned into an education and research center.

I like big trucks. A lot of the equipment was just left in place and buried by water.
Another nearby attraction is a Buddhist Temple built by members of the Japanese immigrant community. Brazil has the largest population of Japanese outside of Japan. The statuary here is very interesting.

Following the lines. Very zen.
Following lunch as  Pasteleria Vitória, we searched for the Recanto dos Cactos, one of the little know gems mentioned in the Quatro Rodas guide. Someone with a special interest in cactus dedicated a nook to the growing of 50 or so varieties of cactus. Unfortunately, no one was there to let us in for a close up look.

Our last stop before dinner was to park where we could see across the rivers to the other two countries of the tri-border area.

This particular photo references a legend of two lovers that sacrificed themselves in the falls to avoid an arranged marriage scheduled for the woman. We heard the story several times while on this trip.

We finished the night with dinner and show at Rafain Churrascaria. The doors didn't even open until 6:30, so it's not worth getting there early. The show started around 9pm. Because of the large capacity and tight space, we actually went to a cutting station to get items from the grill. The buffet had a large variety of salads, pastas, vegetables, fruits and desserts. The show was fun, presenting various musical styles and dances from South America, opening with a made-up "native" dance about the lovers and the waterfall. The show's MC noted that there were people from over 23 different countries in the audience that night, including a rugby team from South Africa. Dinner was tasty and the show was fun. The ads noted that this churrascaria has a location in Dallas as well.
The harp is the instrument of the cowboys in this part of South America.

1 comment:

  1. Gracias por compartir este post. Me pareció muy informativo y útil. Hace poco fui a una rafain churrascaria, y tenía un tiempo increíble. El entretenimiento era excelente, así como la comida. Fue un momento muy agradable.