Triple Frontier

The Triple Frontier, or Tri-Border Area, refers to the three cities that make up the meeting of Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay: Foz do Iguaçu, Puerto Iguazu, and Ciudad del Este. The area is home to both Iguazu Falls and the Itaipu dam, both so cool that I made completely separate blog posts about them (and about my hostel). Ciudad del Este is also allegedly a major smuggling hub, and a monetary base for terrorist operations (although that claim is disputed).

On the highway to here, on the Brazilian side, I got to experience the funny sight of alternating advertisements for all-you-can-eat buffets, and then plus-size lingerie wear.

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Didn’t bother me; I support both food and body positivity.

I also got to see an armored truck called Alcatraz, which I though was ironic given that Alcatraz wasn’t quite an inescapable prison…

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But it looked futuristic, so that’s cool.

Traffic lights in Brazil were probably designed by Microsoft

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This combination means “stop, but if it’s after 5pm then proceed slowly”. Yellow light is in the middle, and green lights on the right.

And I also got to see a new type of taxi: the motorcycle taxi.

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Comes with a free dose of your driver’s back sweat!

In Foz, half of the advertisements are for stores across the border in Ciudad del Este. In addition to the smuggling and terrorism, it’s also a huge shopping destination for Brazilians and Argentinians, with plenty of cheap and knockoff electronics.

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You can actually visit the point where the three borders meet! Here it is.

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Standing in Brazil, looking at Argentina, and seeing Paraguay in the distance towards the right. The Iguazu river (left/center) flows into the Paraná river (on the right).

For $3 you can enter the visitor’s center here, which seemed ridiculous to me given that you could also just see the three countries from outside it (as I did). More exciting, however, is the derelict visitor’s center just down the hill from the new one, which with its “no trespassing” signs definitely is asking to be trespassed.

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Unfortunately it was nightfall and I was alone, so I didn’t jump on the opportunity this time.

In the vicinity of the lookout point is an overgrown field with soccer goal structures, with the players reflecting the common South American trend of not needing much to get a game going.

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Leaving Brazil to go to Paraguay, you board a bus staffed by a driver and what I can only describe as a tereré-pourer (tereré is the cold version of mate, the traditional tea of Uruguay and Argentina).

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He didn’t even collect fares; that was the driver’s job.

After the three other posts of attractions in this area, these normal city sights definitely feel underwhelming. But I left the Triple Frontier excited to see what Paraguay would have to offer, and then to decide what would be next…

 

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