"LIVE! LIVE! LIVE! Life's a banquet, and most poor suckers are starving to death"
attributed to Mame Dennis

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Iguazu Falls

A pot of chicken stock sits simmering on my stovetop. As I lift the lid to check its progress and inhale the wonderful aroma, the steam transports me to the hot and humid day three months ago when we visited Iguazu Falls. Here I am on the walkway approaching the Garganta del Diablo (Devil's Throat, the largest of the falls at Iguazu.) See the mist in the background?

Near the spot where Argentina, Brasil and Paraguay all meet, this natural wonder is one of my favorite places in the world. When I first visited in August 2001, I never dreamt I would get to come back. I was spending that semester studying in Buenos Aires, and went to the Cataratas (falls) with several other exchange students from the US and Europe for a long weekend to see what all the fuss was about. I was  completely overwhelmed and took at least six rolls of film trying, in vain, to capture the beauty and the scale of this place.

In the summer of 2008, just before I came to the Finger Lakes for my cheese apprenticeship, I came back to Argentina with my mom and brothers. My mom had not been to Iguazu since she was 14, and was impressed at all the improvements to the park, including this trencito (little train) that takes visitors to the Garganta del Diablo. The national park provides excellent infrastructure to allow guests a phenomenal experience of the falls.
This winter, I got to share this magical place with Patrick. We arrived early in the morning after the 18 hour overnight bus ride from Bs As, checked our luggage at the bus station and caught the next local bus to paradise. Exhausted and running on adrenaline, we explored the park. I could never get tired of it.

   There are lots of opportunities to spot wildlife, some shy and others not. There was a reptile on the side of one of the walkways that I would never have seen, had there not been a crowd gathering to look at and photograph it. 

The coatís (long-nosed relatives of the raccoon) had all just had babies, and the park was overrun with them. We even witnessed one greedy coatí snatch a sandwich right off a picnic table. Clever little creatures!

That evening we rested a bit at our charming and comfortable hostel, Timbo Posada, then went in search of more wildlife, namely the fish native to the Parana and Iguazu Rivers. The main drag of Puerto Iguazu is made up of a lot of touristy souvenir shops and restaurants, but dinner on the terrace of La Esquina on that balmy night was a romantic and memorable meal. The dishes were well thought out, the portions generous and presented with real pride.

   Pat's surubí steamed in banana leaves came whimsically presented as sushi. The fish was similar in texture and flavor to catfish, which it is related to. The sauteed zucchini and peppers, both in and under the roll rounded out the dish nicely.

The fish I ordered, pacú, is a relative of the piranha. It was served with sauteed mushroom, onions and basil. I will have to try this surprising combination of earthy and fresh, green flavors at home. It worked beautifully.


¡Hasta la proxima, Iguazu!
 See you next time! 

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