Saturday, March 30, 2013

Travels - Part 3

Thursday, March 21st:
Elder & Sister McKinney at spillway overlook - March 21, 2013
Tour bus to Itaipu

After a late lunch we headed 12 kilometers in another direction. We added Paraguay to our list of visited countries when we visited Itaipu, the binacional, hydroelectric dam on the Paraná River located on the border between Brazil and Paraguay.  The tour began with a film and lecture – we again had to leave our belongings in a locker before boarding the tour bus. We were in a bilingual tour sot that everything was repeated in English and Portugés. There are not words to describe our experience. 
The dam is 5 miles long - 8 kilometers

This was a hard hat area for us.

Elder McKinney was very interested!

This area ran clear out of site it was so big.
Our tour touch on three countries
 in South America

State of the art equipment

They are the world’s largest generator of renewable clean energy. We were able to visit the inside of the power plant, stand on and walk along the dam (that magnifies the gigantic size of the dam), view the reservoir, visite the hollow, cathedral-like interior of the dam, see the former bed of the Paraná river, and see the central command room (it looked like NASA). We saw the turbines and generators and then stood in the enormous gallery where the covers of the generating units could be seen.  We say the outflow channel where the water that moves the turbines is returned to the Paraná River to follow its natural course. It was breathtaking. Dad would have appreciated the gigantic power lines leading away into both countries. The power generated supplies most of Paraguay’s power and leaves them enough of their 50% left over to sell to Brazil who then adds it to their 50% to supply a large part of the Brazilian power. Everything about this dam is amazing from its conception, joint country ownership, length of time from conception to completion, and cooperative attitude. I am grateful to have seen it. 

Power lines run miles into both countries
Imagine all that environmentally clean power!

Lincoln, Fernanda, Issac, & Elder McKinney at midnight!
We had pre-arranged to meet with Fernanda (who is the daughter of our branch member-Cida), Isaac and their family on Thursday evening.  Their brother-in-law, Lincoln, picked us up at the hotel around 7:30 and we got to know a little about him as we drove with him and his beautiful 9 month old daughter. He is a member of the church and a flight attendant who flies out of São Paulo three days a week. He has two sons named Moroni and Helaman, who we also met. They joined us for a delicious dinner of beef stroganoff and some lively talk. We share our family pictures and told about ourselves and then learned about them over dessert. We had hoped to convince them to move to Prudentópolis, having been previously told there was a chance they would, but they are planning to stay put in their ward. Isaac is the stake YM president and Fernanda is an avid genealogist. No wonder we talked so long. We eventually got a ride back to the hotel at midnight.
Street performers on our walk to the bus station - they juggled until the lights changed!

Friday morning, March 22nd was our 39th wedding anniversary. We checked out and stored our luggage at the hotel before walking the 100 meters to ­the Zoológico-Bosque Guaraní. We noticed it each day since it was across the street from Terminal de Transporte Urbano where we caught the bus. There was a school class there just like when the kids visit the zoo at home.

Turtles in the sun

You can start to image the garden of Eden

The animals all had slight variations from
those we see in North America.

The turtles are not disturbed by the crocodile.

After we stopped to eat lunch at one of the local lanchonetes we still had about an hour before we need to leave for the bus station so we walked up the street to visit the sidewalk vendors. They seemed to have cheap souvenirs from Paraguay. We were lucky to buy two fleece blankets for $R10 or about $5.00 each and we have been sleeping cozy ever since.

We then took a taxi to the bus station and repeated our trip in reverse arriving home late Friday evening in Prudentópolis ready to get back to work. 
John loved the translations

Google translate?  Is my Portugués this bad?

Great messages in three languages.

Travels to Two Wonders of the World - Part 2

Red heads

On the morning of March 21st, 2013 we again boarded a municipal bus for the 17 kilometer ride to Parque das Aves. We were finally able to place the sounds we so often hear with the birds that produce them. Located near Iguaçu Falls, the privately owned park featured birds flying in huge aviaries and subtropical forest mixed with butterflies, alligators, anacondas, and pythons. We were in such close quarters that several birds brushed my hair and my skirt at different times as they flew by. 
more red heads
Land of the Book of Mormon?



Beautiful colors
Well marked pathways among the flora and fauna. 
End of tour - time well spent!

Again - look at that color!

Look close! That is a hummingbird to the right. 
Unbelievable color!
Sister Davis had him eating out of her hand
The butterflies and moths were very comfortable with humans.

Travels to Two Wonders of the World - Part 1

Casal Davis
September 25, 2012 upon our arrival, we were the third set of couple missionaries in the Curitiba Mission - addition to President Cordon and his wife. Casal Biehn, Mary-Jane and Carl, went home in November. The second couple, Casal Davis, will depart April 17th. These two couples took a trip to see the waterfalls in Iguaçu just prior to the planned departure for Casal Biehn. Sister Biehn broke her foot during their trip which was then cut short.  Elder and Sister Davis wanted to finish their visit and we became the lucky couple to return with them.

Our walking tour generated many photos. I love the palms.
We boarded Princesa dos Campos at our local rodoviaria at 9:30 a.m. on March 19th 2013, stopping in Guarapuava an hour later where Casal Davis joined us. The driver stopped for a half hour lunch & bathroom break at 11:30 at a lanchonete. [The bus line must have some kind of arrangement with a chain of these stores. On our mission conference or temple trips to Curitiba, no matter which route is taken, the bus seems to stop at one that looks identical to the others. Now travelling a totally different direction we have stopped at another carbon copy. They have clean restrooms, serve meals, have treats, souvenirs, etc. He did not stop again later even though our journey was much longer afterward.] Elder Davis is a collector of multi-language films and regularly purchases DVDs at these stores. There are many Disney movies offered. Many people board the bus with pillows and blankets for these long bus rides and sleep most of the way. With our ipads we can choose to study scripture or read from ibooks. I have lesson manuals as well as a Gospel library downloaded to read from on our journeys. It is really a miracle to have so much knowledge in so small a space. Elder uses his as a camera.

We traveled through rolling hills covered with trees and crops. The farmland rolls on forever. The soy crop is easily recognizable. The corn season seems to be over, as many of the stocks still standing are yellowed or brown. (Sounds like Kansas does it not? – but it isn’t flat or dry!) We have been wondering if trees are deciduous in this land where it is never supposed to freeze.  So far, we have seen trees whose leaves begin to brown and fall off – none of the spectacular colors of cold regions. However, we have noticed that the agropecuárias, agricultural stores, have begun to sell cool weather crops. It takes a minute to realize that here we are going into fall and winter while in North America the spring and summer are coming. There has never been a time since we arrived that they haven’t offered some type of seedling for planting. 

Busing and trucking are noticeable on the road and probably good business ventures. This is our first trip to the West of Guarapuava. The palm trees are mixed in with the evergreens, araucaria, and deciduous trees. They and the ferns are favorites of mine. The blossoms seem to change colors over the seaons and yellow is prominent now. So far the land we have encountered is made of the red clay that they use to make bricks, tiles, etc. Everything here is constructed from these materials – from small homes to multi-story buildings. 

Towels - Day 1
Towels - Day 3
Towels - Day 2
We arrived at Foz do Iguaçu – the city- in the late afternoon. Our 7 hour bus ride took a bit longer than advertised. Our stay at the local Best Western, called the Hotel Tarobá was very comfortable. The bell boy recommended dinner at a local churrascaria (steak house) and we there enjoyed a rodizio style  meal (meaning lots of different meats served on skewers served at our table). However the next day we found on a lot closer to our hotel, with a broader selection of food at the buffet – including the veggies that I like so much – and about ¼ the price. We can only assume that the bell boy got a kickback for sending us farther down the street.

Bus ride to the falls.
On their previous trip Elder & Sister Davis had used an English speaking guide to take them to the Argentine side of the falls and were planning to repeat the process on the 20th
Start of our walk along the cataractas.
However, upon arriving at the tourism table, a very kind taxi driver informed us about the new law that requires Americans to pay a $165 Visa fee to the government upon entering Argentina; that is in addition to the fee to the park and the transportation fee.  It was excessively expensive so we were adventurous and hopped on the local bus and arrived on the Brazilian side of the falls/ Cataratas do Iguaçu in about ½ hour (15 Km) at a minimal cost without a guide and had a long wonderful day walking the trails in the park. We could see that the Argentine side had superior walkways out into the water but…. I was thoroughly soaked in front of Devil’s Throat at the end of our ¾ mile walk up and down stairs and along trails. 
The walkway went right out into the water.

This last position offered a view both ways!

Some people wore raincoats - others went in shorts
and planned to dry by sun light.

Argentine side of the falls

Macuco Safari into the falls
After a quick sandwich at Igassu National Park (there were a variety of spelling between the Spanish, Portugues, and English translations) we took advantage of Macuco Safari. An electric cart took us through the Atlantic Forest area with guides explaining flora and fauna of the park and then letting us walk along the trail to Salto Macuco waterfall.  Then we boarded an inflatable boat, donned life jackets, stored our belongings in lockers and rode up the canyon facing the rapids and enjoying the view. We had a “waterfall bath” into The Three Musketeers all the while we were being filmed and photographed – I am sure this is how they make a great deal of their money. The captain brought the boat into the falls three different times and yes, we were totally soaked. However, I felt pretty good about be able to enter the Argentine side of the river free of the Visa charge.

That is Elder McKinney's foot that ROUS is walking by.

These rodents of unusual size would come right
up to tourists looking for food.