After the chaos of Rio, our next stop, Foz do Iguaçu, a collection of 275 waterfalls, was a completely different experience. While in Rio, we observed a city taking over the surrounding lands, building itself around mountains and pushing up against coastlines; in Iguaçu, we saw how nature can take over a landscape and obliterate any thought of civilization. Watching the white water gushing down the cliffs, we were awestruck by the tremendous strength of nature.

Iguaçu falls can be seen from three countries – Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay. We only had the chance to see them from the Brazilian side but were told that the views from the other countries is unique in its own way. (I’m still wondering whether this is just something said in guidebooks to placate the three tourism industries.)

The Brazilian route began with a bus ride into lush forest. They dropped us off at a trail that wound along facing the falls and continued downhill, ending in a metal walkway that jut right out into the middle of a valley of falling water.  From the end of this walkway, we could see only water above and below us. Soaked and shivering, I felt like a part of nature albeit an extremely small fragile part.

While at the falls, Dan signed up for a repelling tour that lowered him alongside the canyon with an unobstructed view of both sides of the falls. The descent was about 55 meters, and cost about $20. You can control the speed of your descent for a thrilling drop, or a scenic descent.

In the world of humans, we feel that we have the ability to dominate nature, we blast through granite to build roads and stop erosion with retaining walls. This gives us such a sense of invincibility until we witness raw nature–a devastating storm, a deadly earthquake, or the raw power of these waterfalls–and we realize that we are mere twigs, easily broken when we get in the way.