Tres Fronteras (similar to the English phrase Three Frontiers) is exactly that – a treble border and the place where three countries meet. In this instance, Tres Fronteras is a part of land where you can see Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina (and be in one of them). But it’s not just bits of grass you’re looking at. Each country has a concrete pillar at this area, each in the colour of their countries flag.
Most borders in South America, I found to be determined and decided by rivers, separating one land from another. Tres Fronteras is no exception, with the Iguazu River flowing between all three countries, with a fork to separate Brazil from Argentina, with Paraguay alone on the other side of the main river.
It was a magic wee moment. And all to myself. And lucky. And quick. Because I didn’t allow myself much time to actually see it and at one point that morning was almost decided to give it a miss and head straight to Paraguay.
However at the last minute I thought, I’m 3 kilometres from this viewpoint of three countries and may never be here again so I’m going to go. There was some informaton in the Lonely Planet book, but not enough for me to work out how to get there. I wasn’t about to fork out for a dear taxi, nor was I going to walk there as I had all my bags and in the rainy season everything would have got soaked that day.
However I checked out of the Hostel Iguazu Falls Inn and stood out on the highway hoping for a bus. The first one flew past without stopping. I think it wasn’t meant to stop there anyway – probably a direct bus from Iguazu itself.
The next driver I asked if he goes to Tres Fronteras and he said yes, so in I got, for 1.5 Pesos, a nice wee trip through the streets of Puerto Iguazu, all the way down to the quiet Tres Fronteras.
On the bus journey down the driver stops at a wee shop and gets some cigarettes, while asking if the passengers want anything. A lady wants a drink. This aspect to Argentinian life is something I did like. No rush, don’t worry, we’ll get there type of attitude. If a bus driver in the UK stopped to buy himself a packet of cigarettes, he’d get lambasted and swore at by his passengers. These guys sit on a seat all day driving a bus – for God’s sake let them buy something from the shop!
Soon we arrived at the empty and quiet “Tres Fronteras” and I walk through the pretty gardens. There on the Argentina side are the three flags all together in a wee square. But looking out I see the clear borders and where the river separates the hat-trick.
A nice bit of kids art – I should know exactly what it means having a decent Spanish knowledge, but without looking it up something like “we continue to move into a new future.”
The street in front of the river separating Argentina from Brazil.
I got a bus back into the town centre – some 3 kilometres and within two hours of seeing all three countries, I had been in each of them…I crossed the Paraguay border to Ciudad del Este.
A DAVID HEALY HAT-TRICK: