Archive for April, 2007

Change of name to the Devil’s Throat

Change of name to the Devil’s Throat

Another piece of news coming from Iguazu. I’ve just read in La Voz de las Cataratas (in Spanish) that a group of self-appointed religious leaders from Foz de Iguazú want to change the name to the Devil’s Throat, the most impressive of all the falls at Iguazú. Among the arguments for the change (if you can call that an argument) the news item quotes that “if this is the Devil’s Throat then the Devil itself is there, and a marvel created by God can’t have that name.”

The news would give rise to much hilarity if it wasn’t for the fact that it fits in a context of unstoppable advance of religious fundamentalism worldwide, from Washington to Teheran, going through Brazil. In the case of Iguazu, it seems behind the iniative there is a group of evangelical priests – the local Catholic church would have distanced itself from the initiative.

As for the authorship of the falls, it would be a good idea to make it clear that they are the result of erosion. Just in case.

Update: the evangelicals are proposing that the fall be named “The Voice of God”.

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destination: Iguazu Falls

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April 27, 2007 | By More
News: entrance fee to visit Itaipu dam

News: entrance fee to visit Itaipu dam

From 1 June visitors will have to pay R$15 to do the basic tour round the Itaipu dam, near Foz do Iguaçu. Up until now, the visit was free. Notas do Turismo contains the information with a link to a detailed press release by the management of Itaipu detailing the different types of visits to the dam.

In my opinion, the basic tour of Itaipu – the one done by the vast majority of tourists – is of marginal interest. Visitors are shown a video presentation where they learn about the wonderful effect the construction of the dam had on the environment – any mention to the monstrous external debt resulting from the construction of the dam is conspicuous by its absence. After the presentation, there is a quick tour around the external part of the dam.

If the gigantic spillway is closed on the day of the visit (and it only opens when the dam is bursting at the seams) the visit is, to be honest, quite boring. It was free, though. That is not the case any longer, and for any engineering fans, I would recommend the Circuito Turístico Especial visit, where you do enter inside the dam and visit the turbines.

The Buddhist temple near Foz is very near and entrance is free.

April 25, 2007 | By More
World Travel Awards

World Travel Awards

I don’t know who is behind the World Travel Awards, but the prestige that comes along with a media partner such as the BBC is seriously damaged by some of the errors contained in the list of nominees. At least in the Latin America section, I wonder whether the treatment given to other parts of the world is equally poor.

First, there is a geographic section called Central & Latin America and a different one called South America. Someone should be taught that South America is part of Latin America.

Second. One of the five nominees in the category of South American airline of the year is the Brazilian airline Varig. I imagine the only criteria applied when drawing up the list of nominees is the money paid by the companies to buy their placement on the list. Otherwise, I don’t get it. Varig is a company that nearly ceased its operations, that left thousands of passagengers stranded worldwide, and that fired thousands of employees violating all sorts of labour rights. Is that company among the best in South America? You’ve got to be kidding.

Third, the fun continues. Among the nominees in the category best South American beach is Pernambuco (sic). A minor problem: Pernambuco is not a beach, but a Brazilian state with hundreds of beaches – including those in the archipelago of Fernando de Noronha, miles away from the state coastline.

Embratur, responsible for a substandard website, is nominated in the categories Leading Overall Travel Information Website and Leading Tourist & Convention Bureau.

Among the best airports in Latin America we find Galeão in Rio and the mysterious São Paulo airport. Will it refer to Guarulhos airport? Or will it be Congonhas airport? But, hold on a second. Two Brazilian airports among the nominees? I don’t even want to think what those airports not on the list must be like.

Now we can just wait and see who the winners are. I’d love it if the Pernambuco beach was elected – and I’d love to see the news reproduced in lots of blogs of the copy and paste generation. Travel agents will go mad trying to find hotels at the Pernambuco beach. Oh dear, oh dear.

April 24, 2007 | By More
Brazil in pictures: cattle in Bonito

Brazil in pictures: cattle in Bonito

cattle

Along the roads in Bonito, in the southernmost part of the Pantanal, cattle travel in search of new pastures. Now is the right season to move, as the level of the rivers is low enough to travel.

I took this picture with my first digital camera, a 1.2 megapixels Sony camera.

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April 23, 2007 | By More
Reviews: <i>Porto Preguiças Resort</i>, Barreirinhas

Reviews: Porto Preguiças Resort, Barreirinhas

Porto Preguicas

NAME: porto Preguiças Resort

WHERE: Barreirinhas, Maranhão

WEBSITE: www.portopreguicas.com.br

IN ENGLISH: no

PRICES ON THE WEBSITE: no

LOCATION: on an isolated field, 1 km away from Barreirinhas. Both the bus coming from São Luís and all the local tourist operators go to the resort.

THE BUILDING: set in the middle of a carnaúba wood, on the right margin of the river Preguiças

THE ROOMS: spacious rooms (58m2) with a hammock at the door. King-size beds and a huge bathroom. Absolute silence at night, only broken by frogs and crickets. All the rooms have tv, telephone, minibar, ceiling fan and air conditioning.

PRICES IN JUNE 2005: R$295 per room per night.

BREAKFAST: included in the price. Spectacular and delicious buffet. Very pleasing dining room next to the swimming pool.

MEALS: excellent food at reasonable prices – quite important as Barreirinhas is a bit too far.

FRONT DESK: good. All our requests were attended to. The recepcionists booked the trips we wanted to make with local operators.

OTHER FACILITIES: free Internet at reception. Tempting swimming pool with sand at the bottom (in an attempt to imitate the lagoons at the nearby Lençóis). Sauna. Kayaks for the guests that want to navigate along the river Preguiças.

CONTACT BY E-MAIL: our requests had always a reply in a reasonable period of time. But they made a real cock-up with our reservation.

OUR JUDGEMENT: though not affordable, if you want a little treat after the hardship of a trip to the Lençóis, this is the place. Not taking into account the incident with our booking, our stay at the resort was absolutely wonderful. Thoroughly recommended.

GOOGLE MAPS: Porto Preguiças Resort

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April 20, 2007 | By More