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Tuesday, September 21, 2004


Foz do Iguacu

Foz do Iguacu is a town close to the joint borders of Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay, and has precisely two reasons to exist. (That´s two more than many places, but still). The first reason is the world´s biggest hydroelectric dam, Itaipu, which is a few miles up the road this way. The second reason is the Iguacu Falls, of which more later.

As for Foz the town itself, it is flyover, doubled, redoubled, in trumps, and vulnerable. It´s like the prototype of the town in Mississippi where Bad Things happen to Good People in Cheap Movies, with a bunch of skyscrapers thrown in to remind you that you are in Brazil, where they build big.

(Oh boy, do they build big. To get here I flew via Sao Paolo - it is apparently a Brazilian law that every flight that crosses Brazilian airspace has to stop at Sao Paolo. From the air, Sao Paolo is simply monstrous. It is a huge, sprawling, gray ogre of a city. As far as the eye can see in every direction are buildings, endless buildings, with a few narrow roads and the occasion tree crying because it is all alone in the world. Sao Paolo reminds me of the city in the sci-fi classic The Shadow of the Torturer, which the characters took half of an entire book just to walk across).

Foz has little to recommend it. The nightlife I can only describe as Barcelona plus a double espresso: nothing is going on, but it is going on a little more energetically than in Barcelona. There appears to be only one place in town that can actually cook food (the churrascaria place on Quintino Bocaiuva, if you´re interested); everywhere else will fob you off with doughy pizzas and overcooked, garlic-drowned meats (again, like Barcelona - how can a town that´s ten minutes drive away from Argentina be so lousy at cooking steak)?

As for the townspeople, it seems most of them go to church on Sunday night and the ones who don´t appear to be Moslems. (I´ve seen a bunch of girls in hijabs here, which you absolutely do not see in Rio, ever. Hard to believe it´s the same country...) I guess that tells you all you need to know about the people of Foz, and about xj´s chances for a little action in this dump.

But there is one thing about Foz that more than makes up for all these horrors, and that is the subject of my next post...

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