Greetings from Ed and Edith

We finally got out of Paraguay and into Brazil legally at Ponto Pora. We

went to Campo Grande so we could get a daytime bus connection. We had

a good hotel, beef barbeque at a next door restaurant and another

fabulous breakfast at the hotel

We headed off for Miranda which is on the edge of the Pantanal. We got to

Miranda about 2 pm and ended up in a small bus station with no

taxis, just phone numbers for taxis. It was probably about 3000 people.

We were in trouble!!! After looking the situation over we decided

the only solution was either to get a bus on to Corumba and hopefully

the bus station would have some tour representatives or try and walk

into Miranda and see what we could find. We just took a guess

and walked about a mile and I talked to some guys under a shade

tree as it was hot and everything was shut down for a local fiesta. Anyway

the guys understool hotel and el central but that was it and we pushed on

and we did in fact find both. We went to the hotel and we were blessed

in that the reception gal could speak some Spanish. She knew of now

tours and only one ranch that does tours that was 30 km away and had not

representative in town. It looked bad but then suddenly she remembered an

tourist agency in town called Aguana Pantanal Tours and she drew

me a map and I left Edith and walked about 1 Km and found it even though

the map was not perfect. Fortunately there were open even with the fiesta

and the

boss lady was there and she spoke Spanish, no English and I found they

lined up a tour to San Franciso Frenza(ranch) and we could stay there. It

was a nice place. She took the car and we got Edith and got signed up.

The evening

Louiz gave us a local tour and he spoke Spanish and some English.

February 17, 2010 Wednesday

We were up before7 am and had breakfast and our driver was there by 8 am

and we headed out for the San Fransicao Frenza. It was about 36 km and I

would say about 20 of it was on the oil to Corumba and the last 16 were

good gravel to the east. We arrived before 9 am and had some look

around time before the first tour. The morning tour was on a truck with

seats the got higher with each row toward the back. Much to our surprise

we met to men from Louisiana and they had a friend from Brazil that had

been an exchange student with them so he do some interpreting for us. The

ranch is about 15000 hectares of which 4500 is rice and 3500 for cattle.

The have the Brahmas and also some cross breed American cattle from the

USA. The rest is reserve land they leave wild. They use irrigation for

the rice. The lady is from CA and I think married a Brazilian and they

have done very well. The son now operates it and we talked to Becky there

daughter who speaks English. They have been in tourism for about 12 years

and are doing well.

They have a big, long dike that keeps the Pantanal from flooding there

land. We seen a fair amount of wild life. The biggest rodent in the

world, Caimans, Ocelot, lots of birds, and deer, We had about a half mile

walk on a raised board walk in the Pantanal and drove on edge of the

Pantanal for many miles. It has about 3 foot of water now and 3 weeks ago

it had about 5-6 feet in areas where during the dry season there is no

water. They have a system of gates and tubes they can use to flood the

rice. The rice harvest was finished. Back at camp we had a talk on the

wildlife and in particular Jaguars. They protect them and let them eat

some cattle. After the noon meal we had some free time and then it rained

hard but we had the boat tour anyway. On this tour we seen Caiman and

birds and fished for Parahna. I managed to catch one. They hit the bait

like crazy but nibble at it so they are hard to hook. We got back and had

lunch and our friends left but others stayed and new people came. We met

a couple from Israel who could speak good English and they had been

there a day and had been on one night tour so they knew what was going on.

We ate supper togther and when it got dark we headed out. New animals we

seen were Giant Anteater, Fox, racoon, and two Ocelot much better and an

owl. We seen deer and the giant rotent again. The people from Isareal

said this tour was much better than the night before. We decided to get

the CD of the pictures of the day since our cameraÆs did not work in the

dark and his camera did a good job and we got a number of excellent

pictures. Our ride from Miranda was there and we got back about 11 pm

February 18, 2010 Thursday

We discussed Bonita and decided not to go as we have swam with fish twice

at the Great Barrier Reef, A great reef in NW Austrailia and twice in

Mexico. We have seen blue limestone water and there were the caves in the

Yucatian and we have seen many waterfalls so we felt it was to much of a

duplication of what we had seen. Also the sites are spread out and things

are not cheap in Brazil

so we decided to head for Iguazu Falls. After breakfast Louiz took us to

the bus station and we went to Campo Grande. One but to Foz Do Iguazu had

one seat left and the other had six so we were fortunate to get a ticket.

The one with one seat left at 4:30 pm and the one we had to take left at

5:30 pm and would take cash only which about cleaned up out and the ATM

would not work.

It cost $200 Reals so about $100 for the two of us so quite expensive from

what we are used to paying in SA but still it is a long ways and a lot

cheaper than flying. We should be into Foz Do Iguazu about 7 am and we

will have to get money. Hopefully we can go to the falls and put our

luggage in a locker.

There is more to the story as the bus did not show up and the ticket agent

never showed up to tell us anything, We talked to a lady but she only knew

Portaguese but she got a friend who could speak Spanish and we were told

the bus had an accident and much rain and it would not make it and we

would have to go tomorrow. We went out of the bus area and back to the

ticket agent and he was there. He spoke Portaguese and just a few words

of Spanish. He tried top find someone who could speak Spanish but had no

luck. We wrote it on paper and understood the bus would still show up

today at 7 pm plus or minus. He got us back outside without another exit

tax fee but not easily. Some of these people just donÆt use common sense

and are not helpful at all. The bus did show at about 7:30 pm and we got

under way. It was not long and we stopped for supper but we were out of

money as we had to pay cash, 200 real for the tickets and the ATM did not

work at the bus station. The ATM did not work here either but they let us

use our credit card so we got something to eat. It was a long night on

the bus but the air conditioning did work. A

February 19, 2010 Friday

We took a pretty direct route and actually passed pretty close to Ponta

Pona. We arrived at Cascaval about 8 am and stopped for breakfast. The

took off with the bus like they did the night before we assumed to fuel.

It showed up again and we noticed it was a different bus and then we seen

our two bags in the bus baggage compartment was not there. No one spoke

Spanish or English but we finally got them to realize we did not know we

were supposed to take them off the bus. We noticed a few people had but

we assumed they were getting off here. What a mess!!! The bus assistant

made a phone call and said the bus would come back with our bags plus we

had Ediths walking sticks in the bus. Well it turns out there had not

informed people as about 5 others who speak Portaguese had left stuff on

the bus. They got pretty anxious to get going but the bus assistant

called on the cell phone and indicated they were getting close. The key

words were otra bus, they understood them and we had our claim tickets.

The bus showed up and I got EdithÆs walking sticks and our coke and then

went to check for our bags and they still were not there but Edith yelled

at me that she had told them which two bags and they had alreadly moved

them to our new bus that was going to Foz Do Iguazu. Wow what a relief!!!

What happens is there make and exchange to two different buses that go

two different places and they did a bad job of telling people about it. A

few took their stuff off but we think only because they had made the trip

before as others who were from Brazil did not know about it!!!! We were

very blessed to get our

luggage and still be on the correct bus to Foz!!!

We got to Foz... about 11 am and still no money. We found an ATM in the

bus station and got money and they had an information person who could

speak English and Spanish. We looked at taking the bus to the falls but

it would take to long. We took a taxi and got him down to 40 Reals. He

could speak a little English but Spanish worked well. He got us right to

where we needed to be. We got a locker. They told us there would be a

person with a key but it was bad English and I went back and they showed

us we needed a token. Unfortunately I had to pay twice as I forgot my

camera in the lock and of course needed another token to lock it. We got

into the park for 37 Real and got on the bus and used the Lonely Planet

and got off at the third stop which is perfect and we walked the trail and

we were amazed at how wide the falls is. It must be nearly a mile. You

get a great panoramic view from the Brazil time so we sure were glad we

had our VISAÆs. There is the Devils Throat where you can really get close

to the water coming over that part of the falls and a walk way where you

can go right out in the middle. It is impressive and then you can take

the elevator up and look down on all that. We took turns going out on the

walk way as you get soaked. We could see the people on the Argentina side

mostly at the top of the falls. There you donÆt get the panoramic view.

We seen lots of Coati which have ring tails and are a relative of the

racoon.. We caught a bus to the Bourbon Hotel, spelling not quite correct

and then walked across to catch a bus to Argentina. We decided to take a

taxi to make it easier to deal with customs, getting money and getting a

hotel. It think the day of going to Brazil at the falls without a VISA is

over as there is an active booth and I think you now have to change buses

but I could be wrong on that. You can do it from a car, in our case taxi

when leaving Brazil and entering Argentina. We seen lots of people lined

up at a desk entering Brazil. The driver could speak a little English but

we used Spanish which he was good at. Immigration went well and was done

out of the taxi window. Cambio was slow but we got our Paraguay and

Brazil money changed and found a second hotel the Carmin they had room and

a free breakfast and supper and wi-fi and pool for $68 so we were

satisfied. We can take the bus to the Argentine side of the falls

tomorrow and leave our stuff here and the next day take the taxi to the

bus station and head for Uruguay. We are going via Argentina so we donÆt

have to go back to Brazil. It is ok when things go well but with no

Portaguese it is not good when things donÆt go well..

The hotel had a great buffet with the main dishes being chicken and meat


February 20, 2010 Saturday

We had breakfast at the hotel and it seemed to be included as part of the

room. We have had conflicting information on the evening buffet. We

found at the hotel and at the park in Argentina there are places you can

get purified drinking water so you can buy water and then use the bottle.

Water was 10 pesoÆs in the park but after we each bought the one bottle we

were set and we are now set at the hotel.

I got $50 changed to Argentina pesos which was a life saver as the cash

machine was beyond the gate and not having enough pesoÆs would of been a

major problem. We were going to take the bus

but ended up sharing a taxi with a couple from Canada who have been

spending the winter in BA. You pay out of the car for the Argentina side

of Iguazu Falls. Everything seems a lot more helpful here and much more

service orientated. You can get a second day for fifty percent if you get

you ticket stamped. There are signs every where telling you this. The

bus stop is just to the side of the entrance. We took the green trail but

did not see much other the plants and go on the train and went to the

Garganta del diablo (devils throat). I think Saturday made it busier as

there werelots of kids. The San Martin Island was closed due to the high

water level. It is a long walkway out but it is well worth it. This gets

you right in front of a huge falls. You can not see this one from the

Brazil side as there is to much mist. We could see across to Brazil where

we had been yesterday. There you can get in front of that falls but

farther awa and there is so much mist we could not get a picture. You

would need a camera that could take a lot of water. There was some mist

but one could use the camera but we had to wipe the lense off several

times. We then took the train back to the upper and lower trails. We did

the upper trail first, it was hot and we drank a lot of water. Much to

our surprise we were able to get a panoramic view of a number of falls,

not as many as on the Brazil side but a lot more than I expected. Off

setting the panaromic view is the fact that you are right at many, many of

the falls. We then did the lower trail and were able to fill our water

bottles. It was hot and tough walking for Edith but there a shady places

to rest. This trail is much longer and you are down low so again you get a

Panaramic view of a lot of the falls and you are right at the bottom of

several. The bottom line is that both sides have there advantages but you

get a lot more for your money on the Argentina side as there are six free

trails and four major ones to see the falls. We got to do three as the

island was closed. The boat to the island is free. It seems on the

Brazil side they want money for everything but the one trail.

On the Argentina side they give golf cart rides to the handicaped and

elderly for free. There is a long wildlife hike on the Argentina side

that you could spend at least 3 hours doing and it is free. I would say

to spend two days on the Argentina side and not spend the the money for

the VISA unless you do like we did and travel in Brazil. You could do the

Argentina side in one day but it would be a long tiring day so two would

be much nicer. BTW it would be best to do Brazil in the morning for

taking pictures and the pictures would be better in the afternoon but are

not bad all day long on the Argentina side as you are taking closer shots

most of the time.

We left about 3 pm as Edith was getting hot and tired. Our Hotel Carmin

is on of the first ones when you leave the park. The park is quite large

and starts just a couple of KM beyond the hotel and is about 17 KM.

We rested and worked on the computer and had a good buffet supper.

Tomorrow we will take the taxi to the bus station and head for Uruguay.

Brazil is king of the heap economic wise and we get the impression they

are very Nationalistic and feel they are an island on to themselves and

that is why

Spanish is almost non-existant and English is of course not spoken much and

the the tourist industry is run on Portaguese and they just don't have

the service concept figured out. It is their way or no way!!! On the other

had the people are nice but things are expensive and they do have lots

of poor people.

The bottom line is traveling with no Portaguese is OK if things go smooth but

when you have a snags like we did at Miranda, at the bus station at

Campo Grande or at Cervanca then it is extremely difficult to get things

figured out!!! Based on this we are going to Uruguay via Argentina rather


going back to Brazil. It is about the same distance either way.

There is a lot of agriculture from Campo Grande all the way to Iguazu

Falls. It is mostly soybeans and cattle but we did see some corn as we got

close it Iguazu but not that many acres.

Ed and Edith