I had time to kill until my late afternoon flight. My neighbours at home, and others on yesterday's falls tour, suggested Parque das Aves (Bird Park), a privately owned aviary near the Brazilian Falls park entry, was worth a visit. World Expeditions made it easy as I joined their morning 'Falls Trip', but got off at the gate, which meant the transport and border crossing hassle was sorted.
Parque Das Aves
Parque Das Aves has four enormous 'immersion aviaries' set in sixteen hectares (40 acres) of jungle. Although I'm not a fan of Zoos this appeared to be very well run and had a strong commitment to preservation/breeding of endangered species. Sadly, due to deforestation there are plenty of those. The size of the enclosures and surrounding jungle meant it didn't have that 'birds stuffed in cages' feel.
Although have seen them before, was struck (had forgotten?) how 'segmented' a Flamingo neck is! Looks like an AutoCAD Architecture object with FacetDev set to the wrong value.
Although I was glad to see a (distant) Toucan in the wild it was amazing to see them up close.
Not all the colours are avian!
A typical enclosure, you go through 'airlock' double door gates to enter and exit them.
The last enclosure is a butterfly house, it seems Brazilian butterflies like Kiwifruit!
Oops, out early, dumb person + smart watch...
I left the aviary an hour early as mucked up the rendezvous time. Although saw all I wanted could have lingered in the café, but my Samsung Fit was 1 hour fast. It had realised I'd crossed the border and changed to Brazil time, but the agreed collection was for Argentinian time. It wasn't until I looked at my phone, outside the park, that I realised time hadn't flown quite as fast as I'd thought. Meant had plenty of time to watch the nearby activity and spot new (for me) South America only Fiat cars like the MOBI in the passing traffic!
The bus stop was by the departure field for the falls helicopter tours and an incongruous Boeing 737 which looked to be going nowhere. I considered doing a Heli flight but by the time worked out I could (~30-minute wait, 12-minute trip) didn't have enough time to do it!
The trek home begins...
We crossed the border for the last time, back to the hotel for lunch and a late afternoon flight back to Buenos Aires.
Had a nice light meal at Loi Suites poolside Tiki Bar: Camembert salad with fruit and a 'hot' mustard dressing (which was not that hot). Finished with Chocolate & Coffee creme De luche (Ice-cream) and a Cafe con liche (close to a latte?). YUM!
Back to B.A.
The Cataratas del Iguazú International Airport (IGR) is mid-upgrade (as it seems all are) and was busy with many of the Jehovah's Witness folks I had seen, some met on the falls tour, heading back to B.A. for their convention.
The departure area was finished & nice apart from jack hammer noises from work in progress on the other side of the hoarding. Even with the crowd there were lots of seats with recharge points (both high table bar type & normal rows) getting plenty of use. Although I'm not OCD the slightly offset upper-mid row of panels on this screen caught my eye!
This was my first flight in a Brazilian Embraer EMB E190 Jet. This short - medium range twin jet has 2-1 seating in premium, 2-2 back in economy where I was. It was great for the short (~2 hour) hop back to B.A. and had power for my phone which was more than the domestic 737s had offered. That was much appreciated as it was low after lots of photos and podcast listening during the day.
The E190 was comfortable even through some ugly weather on the final approach to B.A. The setting sun was peeking through low storm clouds which would impact the next leg departure.
This string quartet & choir, near the arrivals gate, was welcoming the delegates for the Jehovah's Witness convention. Although not intended for me it was strange to walk out to it!
Back to NZ
I did a bit of shopping at the airport, grabbed dinner (a not very remarkable airport pizza) and met up with my Aussie 'stalkers' again. Dorothy and Jen happened to be returning to Aus on the same Air NZ (code share) flight! Departure was delayed due to an impressive thunderstorm at the airport. The ramp was shut down several times, normal procedure for lightning, so we boarded about 01:00 instead of the scheduled 23:45.
The flight was unremarkable except for another passenger in my seat row. I was on the aisle, my preference long-haul, then an empty seat and she had the window. As I settled in, we exchanged greetings and I said it was no problem if wanted to get out anytime (and I think was understood) but needn't have bothered. In the thirteen-hour flight she mostly slept, ate nothing, had only a couple of glasses of water and never left her seat until shortly before landing. She appeared not to have travelled much judging by confusion about the immigration card but spoke good English in the little I heard. It was all rather odd.
I noticed we tracked South from B.A., nearly over Ushuaia, before heading West to NZ.
Glad it was fine for our early morning arrival in Auckland. Although there were unoccupied jet bridge gates, we got a remote park with the added joy of a bus transfer to the terminal. Not really what you need by that stage of the journey. At least once in the terminal Smart gates meant getting through Immigration was rapid.
The late arrival of another Air NZ flight (from China) meant the baggage hall was busy, considering the time of day, and my bag was one of the last to appear. Was chatting with some of the Air NZ cabin crew about their life to-froing to China little knowing how soon. and dramatically, that would all change.
It was quite slow going through the red customs lane as had packaged food to declare. The Agriculture Officer noticed 'Antarctica' on my arrival card, and I assured him had scrubbed all the penguin poo off my gear. He laughed and said, 'I've worked with them, would know if there was even a hint of it left, an odour you never forget!'.
The mighty Bravo HGT started first time, after three weeks parked, but I noticed the ride was a bit lumpy until the tyre flat spots had bumped out a few kilometres along the motorway.
Robin was home again, but different Robin to the one to who'd departed...