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UP THE ALTO PARANA - 1904 - Pág. 3

 

Friday, 18th November.

At 4,30 a.m. we had the anchor up and steamed off hard against a pretty swift current. Full river, weather superb, rather wearied with Posadas mosquitos. Up early and scratched freely. Getting away from civilization we were not particular about dress, appeared on deck mainly with a mosquito wrought frown, but soon converted into a smile of intense satisfaction and relief as one of our sailors, the faithful Facundo, cur cabin attendant, a brown Guarani-Misionero, dashed "buckets of delicious Parana water over us and gave us in this primitive manner our morning bath.

Almost immediately after leaving Posadas, the river narrows perceptibly, maintaining however a good broad stream, and after passing a few miles, leaving the Candelaria Colony behind, away on the right bank, we find magnificent woods fringing the river sides down to the water's edge. The dark impenetrable nature of these forests strikes one immediately, for really we can now call them forests, as they tower up the banks in many cases 200 to 300 feet. All day we steamed through this beautiful scenery, passing many a small river mouth and now and again a waterfall glistening through the foliage. We decided to leave over a visit to the ruins of San Ignacio, 45 miles up the river from Posadas, until our return, so as to have full leisure to do them thoroughly, but unfortunately, as will be seen later on, the weather stepped in and upset our calculations. Being a stone bedded river, the Alto Parana is a clear stream and a very different one to the Paraguay, while continuous eddies and swishing whirlpools hers and there betray  the constant  presence of sunken rocks, sufficiently dangerous for congratulation that our pilot is the best of his class and wideawake to Parana peculiarities.

Now and again we pass small cultivated patches, shewing a hut or two and a clearing with tobacco, maize and banana cultivation, betraying a human effort to win something towards civilization. On both sides we pass a few yerba stations with the inevitable "yerba" shoot,... used for loading the sacks or packages of this precious tea on the trading steamers plying for the purpose. Logging stations are apparent from time to time, and we can see men sawing the timber at one place, probably rough planks of "cedro", 'the excellent cedar so abundant all over Misiones.

A small colony or two appear, but there is a general solitude which gives one blessed repose. Bird-life, beyond a solitary king-fisher or a couple of hurrying wood-pigeons, seems forgotten, while by noon myriads of yellow butterflies with here and .there a blue or a red flash, seem like the wobbling imitation snow of a Christmas pantomime, they abound in such astonishing quantities. Towards the afternoon a general laziness sets in, and although "Bridge" holds out its seductive influences, we all laze and loll, perfect pictures of warm contentedness. By the evening, still steaming swiftly between these forest covered banks, passing more than one equally well-wooded "lone" island, we look forward to a simple meal on deck, which, when disposed of, leads up to the comforting smoke and a blessing that mosquitos seem to be too busy inland to worry themselves about our existence.

At 9 p.m. we make fast to the bank, about 90 to 100 miles above Posadas, close to the mouth of the river Paranaý-guazu, where we rest for the night so as to give our men a chance of preparing for the long day ahead of them and a burst to reach the mouth of the Iguazu tomorrow.

The mouth of the river I-Guazú, where trhee countries meet, Paraguay at the end, Argentina to the left and Brazil to the right. Another view of the photo at left; close to the left is Puerto Aguirre
Looking down on Puerto Aguirre, Brazilian bank in front.

Saturday, 19th November.

At 5 a.m. all hands up, but a dense fog kept us quiet and we could not start until it cleared off at 6. Another perfect day, a slightly refreshing wind, but with this exception a repetition of yesterday. Some beautiful scenery; river a little narrower. Passed the trading steamer  "España" at 10.30 a.m. going down stream. Passed several Yerba stations with their shoots in evidence, also some timber stations, otherwise no signs of much intervention anywhere. Steamed along merrily, river banks not quite so steep but forest growth equally dense or more so. Huge clumps of "tacuara" or bamboo abound everywhere, very like giant asparagus gone mad, most lovely and graceful as they nod to one in the gentle breeze.

Butterflies more numerous and varied, something wonderful; bathed as before, clothing to- day scantier, Tommie Greene quite picturesque in a large handkerchief, Holt, swelteringly happy in a sailor's "jumper", while White was romantically attired in a small mosquito net, which gave him an airy columbine effect most refreshing under the circumstances; I overshadowed the whole fleet, with my new white trousers, which fitted me strangely and in a manner I am not accustomed to. We lazed contentedly, hugging ourselves with delight that we were out of telegraphic, post, and newspaper reach, quite happy, perspiring pleasantly, and welcoming the cool evening which came on us all too soon.'We held on hard all the evening and by 11.p.m. made the mouth of the Iguazú, catching on to a small landing stage about half a mile up the river, when we realised that our steamer  journey was at an end and that we had reached Puerto Aguirre.

On the top of the bank at Puerto Aguirre, catching mules and horses at don Jesús´

The forest road to the Falls. This is the road Miss Aguirre had made at her sole expense

Another view of the same road.

Sunday,  20th November

A quiet night was passed, and we landed early this morning at a small pier, by the side of a very steep bank, indeed on both sides the Iguazu bank is quite steep and well-wooded. Don Jesus Val, a much bicho-bitten Spaniard, came to salute us and place himself at our disposal. At Puerto Aguirre, which is on the Argentine side, there are a couple of ranches, and higher up the bank, a good cedar plank house where Don Jesus and his wife live; at the back there is a little maise and tobacco cultivation but not more, than enough for the house requirements.

Soon fixed up with Don Jesus to take us then and there to the Falls, Started at 8 a.m. after catching up mules and horses, Don Jesus driving a good covered wagonette, and taking with us a man cook and provisions, a peon riding the leading mule, Holt on ahead astride a decent horse not exactly of the giant type. The man-cook, a snail, rather evil-looking Indian, sat grinning at me with a felt covered bottle hugged in his arms; he delighted me with the news that it was snake poison, or snake bite cure, but I think the "caña" it contained was for another kind of bite, if he by any chance got the opportunity! (Caña is white rum).

Another view of the forest road to the Falls (Observe the "Liana" or monkey rope hanging from one of the trees) Cutting a side road off the main road to the Falls. Observe the denseness of the forest.
End of the road to the Falls, just by here only two minutes to the Falls

Almost immediately we entered a narrow lane, cut out of the forest and paralelling at some distance the river Iguazu, we continued for twelve miles, through the most perfect wood-bound scenery. Huge trees towered above us on all sides, the dark shades of massed undergrowth contrasting coolly with the brighter sun rays darting in here and there from overhead. Miriads of butterflies flicked about like coloured rain, now and again a huge blue would rush by like an electric flash, - the day was perfect, hotter than the previous ones perhaps, but it was pleasant travelling,though bumpy at times as we slowly rolled along this road of forest perfection.

Presently a large snake, a good ten feet long, went gliding swiftly across the road, reminding us that vie were well in "bicho land", for Don Jesus tells us there are millions of snakes, large and small, the rattle snake being by no means the most deadly. After three hours' travel, and without seeing a single monkey of the thousands roaming over these regions, we suddenly drive into an opening, where the roar of many waterfalls tells us we are but a minute from our destination, and almost immediately we see range up before us the object of our journey: "Los Saltos del Iguazu".

It is very difficult, indeed impossible to convey in words, one's first, or even after impressions, and invariably you are asked "Have you seen Niagara, and how do they compare?". A few years ago I was admiring Niagara as one first sees those two falls on the point above, when corning east, and somehow, though impressed with the majesty of the enormous masses of thundering water, the Canadian and American Falls, I had a feeling of disappointment over me; they seemed too perfectly set in a modern parklike frame, but the Iguazu catches you at once, an apparently endless view of gorgeous waterfalls bursting from the wildest loveliness Nature can produce. It is best I think, to say that the two do not and cannot compare, except as far as measurements and certain statistics are concerned: the one is the perfect blonde, a vision of human art; the other; the dark-eyed Indian beauty, blushing and throbbing in untouched perfection.

At the Great Iguazú Falls. LtoR: Holt, White, Greene, the San Martin Falls form the background.

L to r: F.H.C.B., White, Greene

The Iguazu Falls are split in numbers of places by all kinds of rocky and forest obstacles, with a foreground, background, and surroundings of the wildest tropical undergrowth and forest beauty. Roughly speaking, the Iguazu falls stretch over a distance of three miles across, and on the Brazilian side, one fall leaps with a gigantic mass of water, 220 feet, crashing into the rapids below, or giving a superiority of 50 feet over any point of those of Niagara. But from the centre and more than half way, a flattish island half covered with a thickset of trees and bushes splits off the obstacles which divide any more continuous leaps into two or more ventures, except in the case of the Victoria and Lanusse, but these cascades end in a higher basin, from which rapids hurry their burden to the main channel, also split by the island fronting the centre. Starting from the Brazilian side, the names given are "Queda Peixoto", or Peixoto Cascade, Queda Campos Salles (both come from Brazilian Presidents) in the centre "Salto de la Union", as belonging to Argentina and Brazil, and on the Argentine side the rest are named for the time being (as doubtless they will each wear a different title later when the list of Presidents and warriors is applied) "Saltos San Martin", - "Salto Victoria", and Salto Lanusse" - the first of these three being after the great Argentine General, the second after Miss Victoria Aguirre, who generously had the forest road cut at her expense, so 'that a visit to the Falls became a possibility, and the last named after my old friend the Governor, who has done so much and worked so hard to develop the territory he has ruled and still does rule in such an able manner. More beautiful waterfalls it would be impossible to imagine; Nature in her wildest mood could not turn out a more perfect picture.

From the Brazilian side rises a perpetual cloud of spray, with a moderate effort from the Argentine section and in front of us, a carpet of stags-horn moss, clumps of begonia bushes, endless creepers with full lilac and yellow trumpet flowers, the myriads of insect life, bright green flowering shrubs, jumbled forest growth, and here and there a graceful palm tree, gave me certainly the most beautiful sight that I can possibly imagine.

After gazing at, and endeavouring to take in all this loveliness, Holt suggested a bathe, so scrambling down a long winding path, and crossing a rustic bridge, we hurry on for all we are worth to a huge rock, and hanging in the torrent we certainly took from the rapids, the best massage bath I have experienced. We also experienced and made the acquaintance of a sharp stinging fly called a Mbarregui", whose movements were aggravated by a much smaller bicho called a "polverin"; we retired to breakfast scarred all over, and with an irritation attached to us that we could have parted with, with pleasure.

Facing the Falls we found, on an elevated opening, a frame house built of rough cedar planks, with corrugated iron roof, a verandah or piazza facing the Falls; three rooms of equal size, the centre for meals, the others each with a plain iron bedsteads, clean linen, quite habitable, though not up to the name of "Hotel". During the afternoon we were mainly occupied in the verandah gazing at the scene before us; later we bathed in the rapids above the Falls, rather a dangerous but delightful proceeding, were able to add generously to our collection of ""bicho" "bites, and after dinner watched the beauties in front of us by moonlight, which completed the panorama I can well classify as one of the World's Wonders.

At the Iguazú Falls, cedar wood house, called "The Hotel" Another view of the Hotel, shewing the verandah.

Monday, 21st November.

After a bath in the lower rapids, a hurried breakfast and a general pack, we bade adieu to this paradise. White walked down the forest road with me for an hour; I shot a black pheasant and caught a number of gorgeous butterflies. In an hour's time the carriage picked us up and we proceeded along the forest road, hot but happy, to Puerto Aguirre, where we found the steamer ready and waiting for us, while the genial skipper gave us quite a warm welcome. Left Puerto Aguirre in the same perfect weather, at 12.30 p.m., steamed swiftly down the river, and at 4.p.m.turned up the river "Ñacundayi" on the Paraguayan side, about 1/4 mile, and saw the falls that stretch right across the river, very beautiful; they tumble some seventy feet down without a break.

 Rain threatened but held off, and turning on to the mainstream, we held our course until midnight, when a sudden fog stopped us, but lifting we proceeded at 2.a.m.

A Página 4

Este sitio es publicado por Carlos Mey -  - Martínez - Argentina

Direccion de e-mail: histarmar@fibertel.com.ar