We decided to spend our final full day in Iguaçu at the Iguaçu National Park on the Brazil side and take our chances with the weather. We agreed to meet between 0830 and 0900 at the entrance to the Iguaçu National Park, the last stop of our 120 bus route if coming from town. To make this early arrival time, I had to wake up at 7AM, have breakfast, and get to the bus terminal at 0745 to catch the 0800 bus. I barely made it in time and luckily was more efficient the payment this time since I knew the drill and what to ask for: “Ciento veinte por favor”. I was on the bus at 0752 and it pulled away a minute later (again leaving 5 minutes early). The bus arrived at the Iguaçu National Park visitor’s entrance at 0835, passing by the stop I usually got off at to get to the hostel as well as the helicopter tour building. I didn’t see the guys there yet but a line was already forming so I stepped in it and waiting. The park apparently opened at 0900 so we still had a few minutes to go. At 5 minutes to 0900,….
We decided to use some of our time in Iguaçu Falls to drive to Paraguay from Brazil so that we could knock another country off of our list. Traffic was too intense so instead of driving us over the bridge to Paraguay from Brazil, the guide parked and we walked it instead (it turned out to be a very long walk and Tarek and I both had on sandals). Halfway through the bridge there was a marking that showed we had entered into Paraguay from Brazil (or vice versa)….
After a LATAM flight from GIG to IGU, we arrived in In Iguazu Falls (Foz do Iguacu) around 5PM. We found a taxi to take us all to the Iguassu Eco Hostel that the guys were staying at (I booked a hotel in the city center because the hostel didn’t have any private rooms available). They checked in and found their bunks in a shared room (8 beds total) while I surfed the internet. The receptionist was super friendly, helpful, and luckily spoke English….
After a wonderful stay in Santa Teresa, I spent Sunday/Monday with my Egyptian friends seeing the rest of Rio in 2 days. There were previously in Salvador for a work award/team building experience with Orange Telecom, and extended to visit Chapadas and then onward to Rio where I would meet them. They were arriving around 930AM Sunday morning, and the plan was for me to meet them in Ipanema at the Everest Hotel, where they would be staying 1 night. I booked an Air BnB nearby. As I was still in Santa Teresa Saturday morning, I grabbed an Uber to take me to Ipanema for around R35….
I made it to GIG, found a taxi, and was on my way towards exploring Santa Teresa, and artsy district in Rio de Janeiro. I had arranged the taxi for R85 (the exchange rate was around 3.1 Reais for every 1 USD) after declining to book the fixed rate prepay fare inside the airport for around R160. I was able to message the manager of the apartment I would be using as my base or exploring Santa Teresa from the airport, as GIG actually had free Wi-Fi. She advised that it would take about an hour to reach the apartment from the airport, and it looked like I would be arriving at 11AM (originally I had told her noon, thinking that it would take longer to make it through immigration and get my back)….