I’m In Brazil, I’m Northern Irish! *


Brazil and Parana (region) flags served as my entrance point to the Republic of Brazil when I ventured across the border from Argentina in December 2010. As a football fan,it was always a dream to visit Brazil, but here my arrival into the country was merely to see a waterfall. And a waterfall that I had already seen!


The quiet town of Puerto Iguazu above was where I was staying. It’s in Argentina. It’s a very popular tourist spot. Mainly because the Iguazu Falls and National Park are just up the road, as is conveniently the borders to both Brazil and Paraguay. My plan was to visit both Brazil and Paraguay of course, and that I did, but first up was to cross into Brazil to see the Iguazu Falls from the other side. From Brazil. I was having to swap my Argentine Pesos for Brazilian Reals. I was needing to learn Portuguese instead of Spanish. And I would board a bus with my passport to get my Argentina exit stamp and then my Brazil entrance stamp. Compared with some borders I’ve negotiated in life, this one was very easy and straight forward!


From the town of Puerto Iguazu, I boarded a Semi Cama Crucero del Norte bus bound for Brazil. You can see the plaque on the front reading Brasil.

My bus ticket cost me 45 Argentine Pesos. That would be around 6 British Pounds. Not too bad for a border bus. The bus would leave the main bus station in Puerto Iguazu at 12.20, arriving at the National Park in Foz Do Iguacu around 1.20 pm. So a very close, quick and easy border crossing then. Just lasting one hour.

Wearing my Northern Ireland shirt on the bus. Not everyone will get this, but there is a Northern Ireland football song called “We’re Not Brazil, We’re Northern Ireland” hence the title of this post. I was travelling alone.

Argentina and England are not the best of friends, and getting accepted into Argentina will usually take longer on a British Passport – they will not care if you are from Northern Ireland, Scotland or Wales. They are just anti-British because of the entire Falklands War and the tension with those islands. However on this trip I was leaving Argentina so felt OK to use the British one. I also have a small Northern Ireland flag in my passport holder as well.

Leaving Puerto Iguazu in Argentina and they gave us all a free sweet. Mine was Cherry flavour – immediately thinking of AFC Bournemouth.

The International Border exit on the Argentina side.

Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina all meet at a place called Tres Fronteras (I wrote about my trip there, here: http://jonnyscottblair.blogspot.hk/2011/01/tres-fronteras-three-frontiersborders.html ) and here all three flags fly together. One of the world’s friendlier borders in fact!

The queue was quite long and there were a few other foreigners in the queue with me. However 90% of the people crossing were either Brazilian or Argentinian, at least I gathered this by the languages they spoke and glimpsing their passports.

Argentina immigration office. Very smooth and fast to get out of the country. This was actually the third time I would be leaving Argentina (once to Antarctica, second time to Uruguay).

The bridge across the Iguazu River marks the border. I found that most borders in South America depended on the rivers. Despite the speed of our bus, I managed to get a photo of the light blue and white stripes for the Argentina side.

As well as the green and yellow stripes for the Brazil side. In fact these painted stones on the bridge, rather than the flag were my proper welcome sign to Brazil.

We got off the bus again to queue for our entrance stamps. Again very straight forward and this time there were a few more foreigners around. I had guessed this was because Brazilians didn’t require a stamp here, as it is after all their country.

With my passport and Northern Ireland shirt on,about to get my first ever passport stamp for Brazil.

Those two stamps from that day. 11th December 2010 – leaving Argentina at Puerto Iguazu and arriving in Brazil at Foz Do Iguacu. (note the spelling differences in the naming of the river and towns near Iguazu/Iguacu depending on Spanish or Portuguese).

The bus was taking us directly to the National Park of Iguacu, which was of course amazing as I was going there to see the waterfall inside the National Park rather than the actual city of Foz Do Iguacu. I had arrived in Brazil! As nonchalantly as ever, this was actually another childhood dream being ticked off. In fact the entire South America trip was me bringing some of my dreams to real life. I totally believe you haven’t travelled unless you’ve been to every continent, South America, Africa and Antarctica being the main three continents in my opinion.

Arrival at the National Park on a day which mixed rain and sun.

A touristy style map was there and I simply went to the entrance in front and paid in. 

They guess your nationality on the way in, and I was guessed as being Northern Irish so they put  Irlanda Do Norte on my entrance ticket! I loved that. Wearing my green Northern Ireland shirt was of course a big giveaway. I was surprised they wrote Irlanda Do Norte though, pleasantly smiling I was now inside the National Park.


You can read the full extent of my visit to the waterfalls on the Brazilian side of the falls. It’s here: http://jonnyscottblair.blogspot.hk/2012/02/down-waterfall-foz-do-iguacu.html 

Since I’ve started my report on my visit to Brazil, I’ll put some of these photos on here too, even though they are repeats. Above relaxing in awe of the amazing Iguazu waterfalls on the Brazilian side. In behind the trees you see are all in Argentina as the waterfalls straddle the border.

As this was my first trip to Brazil, it was also my first time to use Brazilian Reals. Some of my notes and coins there.

I’d post a few postcards to my kid brother Danny, from Brazil. Here is the one he got from Foz Do Iguacu. It was all magical. It was all a dream.

A map there that shows the location of the Iguazu Falls, where you can also see the border between Brazil and Argentina (and Paraguay is in there too…). The letter A in red denotes where the actual waterfall is. You will see on the map also three towns/cities: Puerto Iguazu: Argentina, Foz Do Iguacu: Brazil, Ciudad Del Este: Paraguay.

It was after my visit to the waterfalls that day that I enjoyed my first ever beer in Brazil. I had a small Chopp. Local lager. I had met a Swedish guy called Marcus who was on my bus and walked round the waterfalls together, he took the photo. It was a hot day and I was now in Brazil, not Northern Ireland!

From – Puerto Iguazu, ARGENTINA

To – Foz Do Iguacu, BRAZIL

Strange Currencies – Argentine Pesos and Brazilian Reals

Transport Used – Bus (the company Crucero Del Norte)

Nationalities Met – Brazilian, Argentinian, Swedish, English, Paraguayan, French, US

Key Song –

WE’RE NOT BRAZIL, WE’RE NORTHERN IRELAND (featuring George Jones and Jackie Fullerton):

(by Northern Ireland fans at Windsor Park, Belfast, Northern Ireland in 2006):

(at the Brisbane NISC launch in Australia in 2010):

My Videos –
BORDER BUS FROM ARGENTINA TO BRAZIL:

ARRIVAL IN BRAZIL (FOR THE FIRST TIME):

FOZ DO IGUACU, BRAZIL PART 1:

 





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