Sunday, January 13, 2008

Itaipu Dam and Paraguay (January 11, 2008)

I've been asked to share more text, more photos of people and more information about food...but I'll still try to keep it fairly short and sweet:

On Friday morning, I went to see Itaipu Dam - the world's largest hydroelectric dam in terms of energy output (for sheer size, Three Gorges Dam is larger). The dam itself is massive; someone in our group called it the "concrete Iguassu Falls."

We then crossed over to Paraguay for a brief shopping excursion. Paraguay is where Brazilians go to buy electronics and high-end items, because there is no sales tax. (But, in fact, the prices are better in the U.S.)

The border crossing was interesting - no passport stamping like when we crossed into Argentina. Our driver simply slowed the van down as we passed someone on a street corner who I would never have identified as any type of border official. At the same time, tons of motorcycle taxis carried people across the border in both directions.

The streets were packed with stalls and vendors selling every item imaginable: cameras, iPods, underwear, guns (yes, guns), electric drills, fake brand-name shoes/watches/DVDs, fishing rods, etc. In the midst of the street market chaos stood a seven-storey luxury department store called the Mona Lisa - what a contrast!

Later that afternoon, I had the opportunity to visit an impressive bird park before leaving Brazil. Enjoy the photos:

Itaipu Dam. If you look closely above the pouring water in the lower right hand corner, you'll see a bus in front of a five-storey building. That will give you a sense of the size of the dam.
The sign says it all!

One of MANY street vendors in Paraguay...this woman was selling bags in which to carry all of the other goods that were for sale in the surrounding stalls!

Motorcycle taxis carry shoppers back and forth across the Brazil-Paraguay border

Brightly colored macaws in the bird park near Iguassu Falls

No comments: