Friday, November 23, 2012

What If Money Was No Object?

Ask yourself. What would you do with your life if money was no object? An amazing video based on a lecture from the late Alan Watts.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Crossing Three Frontiers... Ciudad del Este... Puerto Iguazu... Foz do Iguacu

From Ciudad del Este I planned to visit the famous Iguazu Falls. One can access the falls by Puerto Iguazu in Argentina or Foz de Iguacu in Brazil. I wanted to see the falls from both vantage points, so I planned my route.

There is a bridge called the Friendship Bridge that spans the Rio Parana between Ciudad del Este, Paraguay and Foz de Iguacu, Brazil. It is a highly trafficked bridge and I had heard that it somethings takes hours to cross the border with a vehicle. This proposition did not sound apealing.

A Paraguayan friend of mine had mentioned to me that there was a ferry that crosses the Rio Parana into Puerto Iguazu, Argentina from a small town, just south of Ciudad del Este, called Presidente Franco. Supposedly the route was lightly trafficked. It sounded more like my style.

So I plotted my route to travel south from Ciudad del Este to Presidente Franco. I would take the ferry to Puerto Iguazu, Argentina and see the falls in one day. Then I would travel from Puerto Iguazu, Argentina across a land bridge to Foz de Iguacu, Brazil and see the falls from the second vantage point.
I rode south for about 30 minutes to the town of Presidente Franco and found the ferry. I was the only non-local crossing the border so immigration and customs processing only took about two minutes.
It was a short crossing and only took about 10 minutes. It cost about US$10. To the left was Brazil. To the right was Argentina. 
Behind me was Paraguay. 
La Triple Frontera... The three frontiers all seen from this one vantage point.

The ferry approached the dock of Puerto Iguazu, Argentina and I rode off. Again, the immigration and customs processing was quick and easy.

It turned out to be nice and relaxing way to cross the frontier.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Itaipu Dam

I headed north toward Ciudad del Este and visited the Itaipu Dam.
The Itaipu Dam is a hydroelectric dam on the Paraná River located on the border between Brazil and Paraguay. The name "Itaipu" was taken from an isle that existed near the construction site. In the Guaraní language, Itaipu means "the sounding stone".
The dam is the largest operating hydroelectric facility in terms of annual energy generation, generating 94.7 TWh in 2008 and 91.6 TWh in 2009, while the annual energy generation of the Three Gorges Dam was 80.8 TWh in 2008 and 79.4 TWh in 2009.  Though, the dam's 14,000 MW installed capacity is second to the Three Gorges Dam's 22,500 MW.
It is a binational undertaking run by Brazil and Paraguay at the Paraná River on the border section between the two countries, 15 km (9.3 mi) north of the Friendship Bridge. The project ranges from Foz do Iguaçu, in Brazil, and Ciudad del Este in Paraguay, in the south to Guaíra and Salto del Guairá in the north.
The installed generation capacity of the plant is 14 GW, with 20 generating units providing 700 MW each with a hydraulic design head of 118 m. In 2008 the plant generated a record 94.68 TWh, supplying 90% of the electricity consumed by Paraguay and 19% of that consumed by Brazil.
Of the twenty generator units currently installed, ten generate at 50 Hz for Paraguay and ten generate at 60 Hz for Brazil.
Two 600 kV HVDC lines, each approximately 800 km long, carry both Brazilian and Paraguayan energy to São Paulo where the terminal equipment converts the power to 60 Hz.
In 1994, the American Society of Civil Engineers elected the Itaipu Dam as one of the seven modern Wonders of the World. In 1995, the American magazine Popular Mechanics published the results.
When construction of the dam began, approximately 10,000 families living beside the Paraná River were displaced.
The world's largest waterfall by volume, the Guaíra Falls were drowned by the newly formed Itaipu reservoir. The Brazilian government liquidated the Guaíra Falls National Park, and dynamited the submerged rock face where the falls had been, facilitating safer navigation, but eliminating the possibility of restoring the falls in the future.
A few months before the reservoir was filled, 80 people died when an overcrowded bridge overlooking the falls collapsed, as tourists sought a last glimpse of the falls.
All of that can be summed up by saying... it's a pretty big dam!


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Best Asian Food in South America

While in Encarnacion I received a tip about a Korean restaurant. I was not provided the name of the restaurant, but rather, I was provided directions...

Exit the bus station turn right and walk two blocks. Look for some asian characters written in red on a wall. There will be a gate. Approach the gate and clap your hands to announce yourself. A person will greet you. Walk pass the gate and through a passageway. There will be a small kitchen and dining room. Enjoy.
The directions were pretty basic and a little vague. I thought that it would surely be complicated. However, I've become pretty good at finding places even with limited directions. 

So... I rode down the street. Just as indicated, I spotted the asian characters written in red on the wall. I approached the gate and clapped my hands. After a few seconds a short asian man greeted me. I asked if there was a restaurant inside. He nodded his head and waived me in. He allowed me to park my motorcycle inside the passageway.
I was handed a single page menu with about fifteen items. They had all the essentials... bulgogi, galbi, bibimbap, kimchi...
The dining area was pretty simple... it had four tables designed for four people... not much more.
I ordered the bibimbap. I was served a few side dishes of kimchi which included radishes, bean sprouts, tofu and cabbage. I was even provided a glass of tea.
The bibimbap contained rice, beef bugogi, vegetables and an egg.

Yummmmmmm... I'm declaring this the best asian food in all of South America.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Jesuit Missions of Jesus de Tavarangue and Trinidad

I rode south to the town of Encarnacion. 

Just outside of Encarnacion are the ruins of the Jesuit Missions of Jesus de Tavarangue and Trinidad. They were religious missions that were founded by the Jesuit missionaries during the colonization of South America in the 17th century. The missions were created in 1609 and developed for 150 years. Both areas were declared UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1993. The Jesuit Missions of Paraguay are considered some of the most impressive creations of the religious work of the Jesuits, and are testimony of the historical richness of the country.
First  up... Jesus de Tavarangue.  The church of Reducción de Jesús (Jesus’ Mission) was in the process of being built when the Jesuits were expelled from the Río de la Plata Province. It would have been one of the biggest churches of that time, with a central structure of 70 by 24 metres (230 by 79 ft). The structure's design was based on the Church of Loyola, in Italy. The three doors of access, located in the front, created impressive entryways. UNESCO declared it a World Heritage Site in 1993. It is considered one of the most important edifications of the 30 Jesuits towns in the region. The stone pulpit, the friezes of angels, the rose shaped carved stone in the lintels in the doors and the bell tower stand out in its architecture. The ruins of these missions show a way of life and education marked by its own and singular style.

I left the Jesus Mission and headed down the road. Along the way I passed by this cemetary.

I came across this farm and thought the juxtaposition of the farm house, tree and longhorn were perfect. If the longhorn would just look my way...
It would be perfect.
He decided to appease me.
Second up... Trinidad.  The Santísima Trinidad del Paraná Mission is considered the biggest of all the missions. Natives came from the missions of San Carlos (now in the territory of Argentina) in 1712. This mission has the biggest temple among all the Jesuit Missions, with an altar carved out of a single piece of stone. Some of the stone carvings within the mission illustrate the persecution of the natives at that time. It has a central square, the town’s place of meeting. Located in the old sacristy, are many sculptures and a scale model of the mission. These ruins are in the process of being restored. 
The principle inhabits are now termites.

source: Wikipedia

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