Sunday, March 29, 2009

Swimming in the river

On the last day of Puerto Iguazu, before heading back toward Rio, Vero and I really wanted to swim again. The night before, while we had been searching for a hostel with a pool, she had heard from someone at Hostel Bambu that there was a place nearby that hostel where we could jump into the river. The river's name is Rio Iguazu.

After doing some research online, given our short time limits (we wanted to start our bus trip back that evening), we thought that would be the best idea for the afternoon.

When we got to the hostel, the very nice owner actually directed us by walking down the street together until the small hiking path down the side of the hill to the river started. We were glad he came because it didn't look like any kind of path at all by itself. She and I would probably have never found it ourselves. I was still surprised that he walked all the way there himself though. Considering we never even stayed at that hostel, he's one of the nicest owners I've ever met. He mentioned to us that the water there can get pretty gross sometimes, but we decided to go down and take a look anyway.

We walked down the path to the river. The "swim area" turned out to be just a small area to take off your clothes, leave your stuff, and dive in off small rocks. There were some Argentinian kids from the area already swimming there, as well as an older couple doing some fishing. I didn't know what to say other than "hola". I didn't know if they felt like we were invading or what.

Veronica got talking to them immediately with her charm. Things felt more comfortable after that. The kids enjoyed her banter. She dived in first and chatted with the boys. I dived in soon after and we were floating and swimming for a couple hours. The water felt great, and didn't seem dirty.

A police patrol boat sped by at some point, and the locals asked us to swim closer to shore when they did. I didn't know why, but I did anyway. When we looked at them, they were waving one finger side to side as if to give a "no-no" sign to us. I didn't know why, and when Veronica asked the local guy, he didn't give us a straight answer. So we still don't know exactly why the police didn't approve but later we found out the other side of the easily swimmable 150 meter wide river was Brasil. I realized it was true once they mentioned it, so technically we could have swam across the border if we wanted to try it. Either the police wanted us to stay away from the other side or they just didn't want us to get hurt by boats passing by.

The spot was perfect for swimming. It was just open river with a deep diving edge off rocks on shore, and there was even a boulder coming up sharply from the bottom in the middle that allowed you to get up and stand at the surface of the water for a more water level dive platform. Vero did some yoga poses on this rock and I took pics. What a showoff :)

I took about 10 dives off the bigger rock about 2m above the water surface, trying to reduce my splash with each consecutive dive for fun, while Vero tried to judge my form. I was glad my shorts weren't falling off. I really need to get new ones.

After a couple of hours, we walked back up the small hill and asked the hostel if we could use their shower to get the river water off our bodies. They were really nice again. We thanked them and then we were off to get more ice cream before heading to the bus station to find our back to Brasil and the bus to Rio.

I would recommend that hostel to anybody going to Puerto Iguazu. Super cool staff, nice facilities, and the rooms looked nice with a/c.


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