Archive for May, 2005

29th May 2005

Water, lots and lots of water

Cynthia, her boyfriend Josh, and I took a trip this past weekend to the border of Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay to see Iguaçu Falls. According to Lonely Planet, Iguaçu (Eee-gwa-soo) is wider than Victoria Falls, taller than Niagara Falls and more beautiful than both. I haven’t ever seen Victoria, so I can’t speak for those, but it did make Niagara look a bit like a leaky faucet

Our trip got off to a shaky start after we arrived at the airport and were informed by the Varig check-in counter that we would have to sit separately, then we would have to go on separate planes (though at the same time), then we would have to fly through São Paulo a few hours later, then we would have to go 10 hours later at 10:00 pm and finally that we had to hurry because we were going on our flight, so Run! Anyway, with a slightly raised stress level we got on our slightly delayed flight and made it to the city of Foz do Iguaçu.

After our arrival we went into the city of Foz. Not much to report, except that we ate at a fairly decent “German” restaurant where Josh managed to eat something that would cause him to be sick for the remainder of the trip. After dinner we arranged our trip to Argentina for the next day to see the falls and called it an early night.

The Iguaçu Falls are on the border of Argentina and Brazil, like Niagara they are split between the countries. Argentina has a much larger portion of the actual falls (nearly all of them), so the Argentine park is a must-see. There are trails throughout the Argentine park, some go over some over the smaller waterfalls, some just have fabulous views of the falls, some let you get up close and personal. The Argentine side also has a close up view of my favorite part of the Falls, at least to say, “La Garganta del Diablo!” This section was named because it looked like a throat and a big one, so therefore “The Devil’s Throat.” The exclamation point is my own.

After seeing most of the Falls up close we took a trek on the Macuco Trail. This was a 6 kilometer hike through the forest. It was well kept, but not well traveled as it seems that most tourists to the Falls don’t prefer the do-it-yourself travel. Here we saw butterflies, the biggest woodpecker I’ve ever seen (it might be the only one I’ve ever seen), capuchin monkeys (and lots of them), and a bullet ant. Thankfully, we didn’t see the jaguars that are supposed to live in the forest. It all ended with a beautiful waterfall, that was a bit of a let down after the rest we’d seen that day. After our exploring, we hurried back to catch our cab back to Brazil and not to be left in the forest at night when the nocturnal jaguars come out to play.

Saturday we went to the Brazilian side. Brazil has a small portion of the actual falls, but what they don’t have in waterfalls they make up for in view (and souvenirs). Seeing the Falls from the Brazilian side you are able to see about twice as many falls as on the Argentine side, there were some that I didn’t even realize were there.

In the end, Iguaçu Falls has now taken a place on my Top 5 list. I have never officially written the list so I’m not sure who they kicked off, but it was spectacular. On several occasions, I had chills and not just from the cold mist, and on more than one I welled up a little bit. They were breathtaking, awe-inspiring, and pretty much indescribable (though I tried).

For all the pictures in somewhat chronological order, click here.

Posted in General, Travel | 1 Comment »

02nd May 2005

Mission Accomplished

Well after several long grueling weekends, I have completed my task of grading 55 extended essays for the IB. I learned a lot about how I grade, about how kids write, about how to teach the kids about how to write, but more than anything I learned that the IB doesn’t pay their examiners for nothing. I’m not sure they will ask me to grade ever again, as I’m not totally confident that I was consistent over my 55, though I did try to be, and even though I had the grades turned in on time I missed the deadline of having the essays to the IB by yesterday as they were sitting on my dining room table at the time. But all is well, they’ve been packaged and sent off to Wales and they are no longer my concern. And if I don’t have to spend approximately 40 hours grading fifty-five 4000 word essays again, I might be able to live with that.

Posted in General | No Comments »