Even those with only the faintest grasp of geography would probably be able to assert that to get to Alaska from South America, one needs to head in a northerly direction. Considering our actions this week, it might appear we had abandoned our efforts to reach the top of the two continents.
It all started with our planned excursion to Foz do Iguaçu to visit the cataratas (waterfalls).
Yep, quite incrível – AND the sun was shining.
A visit to the Parque das Aves (bird park) next door was also recommended, and this almost trumped our enjoyment of the falls, if that’s possible – SO MANY COOL BIRDS!
Whilst in Foz we spent some time with new friends-of-a-friend Leo, Nyara and their gorgeous little son Yohan. What a little cherub.
Deviating from our usual hitching technique of heading out early on a departure day, on Thursday we made the most of a free tour of the man-made spectacle, Itaipu, a dam of gigantic proportions providing electricty for 100% of Paraguay and quite a bit of Brazil too. The scale was dizzying: 196m in height, 7km in length… a quick peek over the edge was quite enough, thank you.
It was 2pm by the time we were on the road, so we estimated we would be back in Cascavel with our friends from the local Presbyterian church (see below) by the evening and would continue onto Curitiba on Friday.
This was actually a realistic and logical sort of a plan, so of course nothing of the kind materialised.
When drivers Hélio and Fernando pulled over and said they were driving to Porto Alegre, almost 750km south of Curitiba (which isn’t near Alaska anyway), some people may have politely declined the lift. We are not those people. Twenty hours later (but with plenty of loo stops, don’t worry), we arrived.
As we knew nothing of the area, having not planned to come here, we accepted the advice that we should continue onto Gramado and Canela, two hilltop locations extremely popular with Brazilians. Mercifully, considering our rather jaded state, we had to wait just three minutes for our next driver, Diego, who took us all the way.
To compound our bleariness, it appears that we have managed to make it to Germany: think pine trees, alpine lodges, hot chocolate. We even had fondue for dinner, for goodness´ sake – about as far removed from our previous experience of Brazil as possible, but a lovely location for weekend recuperation. (Ok, it’s raining again, but then this is Europe, so to be expected.)
Total number of lifts: 89
Week Eleven distance travelled: 1088 km
Total distance travelled: 12437 km