Leaving Latin America, I want to comment on a phenomenon that seems to be sweeping this part of the world. It is the so called pink tide, the simultaneous occurrence of a left swing in the politics of the most countries on this continent. It is pink of course because bloody red is somehow appropriated by the communists, whereas the socialists can be safely painted in pink. Latin America has been under robust American control for many years, belonged to the immediate American sphere of interests. But especially in the most recent years, after the end of the Cold War, the situation here changed radically and one after another pieces of the domino fell as socialist or left-wing presidents won elections.
There are 12 independent countries in South America. Today there are left-wing governments in 9 of them, and Michelle Bachelet just won the first round in presidential election in Chile and is likely to win the second, making it 10 out of 12.
This is how it looks:
Continue reading Pink tide
I took a morning bus from Asunción to Ciudad del Este, second largest city in Paraguay. The main attraction of that city is its function as a trade and contraband centre on the border with Brazil and Argentina. Its main streets are a giant market, full of visitors from the neighbouring countries trying to snatch cheap electronics and clothes. Apart from that couple of kilometres upriver there is a huge dam, which was in fact the largest in the world before the Three Gorges Dam in China was finalised. My objective however was the town of Foz do Iguaçu in Brazil, from which the Brazilian side of the falls can be visited. To get there I took a taxi from Ciudad del Este. The taxi took me to the Paraguayan immigration, then over the Friendship Bridge (which apparently it is too dangerous to cross on foot due to robberies) and then to the Brazilian immigration and to my hotel. All the while I had the impression that collecting border crossing stamps was personal hobby, as the traffic by the immigration posts went mostly uninterrupted. Apparently if you only go to the neighbouring country for the day, you need not bother to get a stamp. Everybody is very relaxed about it here.
I visited both sides of the falls. And I found both impressive in the highest degree. Iguaçu falls can be approximately subdivided into 270 small falls. Most of them, about 80%, are on the Argentinean side. As a result, the Brazilian side offers a more complete and impressive overview. On the other hand on the Argentinean side one can approach the falls much better and get a more intimate view (and even get into a waterfall, which will be described in the next post).
Just like in Machu Picchu though, it is difficult to perceive the full grandiosity of this 3D spectacle just looking at the pictures.
The first view from the Brazilian side:
Continue reading Iguaçu falls: Brazilian side