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Crossing Over

PARAGUAY | Tuesday, 15 January 2013 | Views [483]

Itaipu Dam, largest in the world (until 7 Gorges is finished)

Itaipu Dam, largest in the world (until 7 Gorges is finished)

After nearly a week of dillying and dallying, collecting our visas and waiting for Lynn and Hector to arrive, we crossed the Rio Iguassu into Foz do Iguacu, Brazil.  All of the pre-visa bureacracy paid off, we sailed through immigration and were in our hotel by ten.  Salvatti Iguassu isn't luxurious, the internet isn't free and there are no English channels on the TV.  But the room is large, we're conveniently located and the price is half what we paid across the border.

Our first order of business was to arrange our getaway to Curitiba - "leito" sleeper seats on the overnight bus and the station isn't far from where Lynn and Hector will be staying.  Then we went to see Itaipu Dam, the largest in the world until the Seven Gorges project is completed in China.  The dam stretches 9 kilometers and the concrete alone could pave a two-lane road from Moscow to Lisbon!  It's 20 turbines each produce 700 megawatt/hours of electricity and supply 20% of Brazil's power and 90% of Paraguay's.

I realize that powering a rapidly growing nation comes with a price; in this case the flooding of 700 square kilometers of rain forest.  But they did consider all the ramifications.  They relocated both the indigenous people affected and the animals uprooted.  They even provided fish ladders for the hundreds of migrating species.  At one time 40,000 people worked on the project and today it employs 4000 workers.  All this we learned from Joao Luis, a self-proclaimed "child of the dam" - his parents met while his father was working on the project.

Visitiing the dam isn't as exciting as seeing the cataracts but it's a lot easier and cheaper to do.  Catch the 102 bus for a buck and a quarter and you're there in no time.


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