Scrolling Headlines:

Massachusetts drought heavily impacts local agriculture -

September 26, 2016

UMass Soccer earns second win of season in 3-2 victory over Hartford -

September 26, 2016

‘Morris from America’ explores teen angst and the struggles of growing up -

September 26, 2016

‘Hell or High Water’ an intense, morally ambiguous modern Western -

September 26, 2016

UMass field hockey hangs tough, falls to No. 18 Stanford -

September 26, 2016

Read: You won’t regret it -

September 26, 2016

Racism in the LGBTQ community -

September 26, 2016

Harvard professor discusses race, power and science in academia -

September 26, 2016

‘Kubo and the Two Strings’ is a stop-motion masterpiece -

September 26, 2016

Editorial: The Massachusetts Daily Collegian Mission Statement -

September 26, 2016

Amherst Police Dept. uses pepper spray to disperse party on Hobart Lane -

September 26, 2016

UMass football can’t overcome four third quarter Mississippi State touchdowns, fall 47-35 Saturday -

September 24, 2016

UMass football’s fourth quarter comeback attempt falls short against Mississippi State Saturday -

September 24, 2016

Cyr: Despite improvement, UMass football still can’t capture first marquee FBS win -

September 24, 2016

MassPIRG kicks off for the fall semester -

September 22, 2016

UMass Resistance Studies Initiative hosts activist and author George Lakey -

September 22, 2016

UMass field hockey readies for tough tests against Stanford, Boston College -

September 22, 2016

Calling the shots: everything you need to know about the flu vaccine -

September 22, 2016

UMass assistant Professor speaks about oppression of American Indians -

September 22, 2016

Astronomy department head hosting sundial and sky-watching event -

September 22, 2016

Even paradise has a dark side

It starts as small streams, continues into roaring rapids and opens up into broad rivers until it combines with water from all over to create what could best be described as God’s Playground. A menagerie of blue and green popping out of the jungle mists lends it all an almost prehistoric air. Flocks of toucans circle above the site.

The cataracts at Iguazu have been described as one of the seven wonders of the natural world. It is a combination of over 200 waterfalls pulsing 3,000 liters of water per second over its cliffs, in the utterly picturesque setting of the Argentine-Brazilian jungle.

The hike around the waterfalls on the Argentine side starts with a light walk through the jungle to witness the roots of the massive currents that Eleanor Roosevelt was known to have said dwarf Niagara Falls. Suddenly, the jungle canopy parts to reveal the stunning view of a furious – yet beautiful – force of nature set in a deep river valley.

The site is the utter panoply of brilliance and spectacle. From the pulsating waters at the top, to the white frothy destructive force of foam at the waterfall’s base, to the dense thicket of jungle that surrounds all, it is an assault on vision.

Never before have I truly felt the sensation of being in the midst of the exotic and the great. Watching rainbows break out over the many falls with the sun sinking through the sky, I got a feeling that the wide world out there could be seen and could be reached. If I could make it here, if I could see this magnificent place with my own eyes, anything could be within grasp.

Iguazu is in a region known as the tri-frontier, a place where the borders of Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay meet. Equal in its fame for its natural beauty is the notoriousness of the zone. Ciudad del Este, on the Paraguayan side, is infamous as one of the smuggling havens of the world. A good deal of Paraguayan-made drugs escape through the area’s lax border control. Additionally, the terrorist bombers behind several anti-Israel bombings in Buenos Aires were known to have reached the country through the region. Simply put, depending on the day, the border rules can be so lax, that people can drive uninterrupted into each of the three countries.

Puerto Iguazu, on the Argentine side, has the feel of a true border town. Nightclubs and bars fill with people from all three countries and tourists from many more, giving the feeling of a rough globalization.

A few hours down the road lies the ruins of an earlier vision of cultural diffusion. The ruins of the Jesuit Mission of San Ignacio Mini poke out of a jungle situated in another rough-feeling border town. Back in the 1700s, Jesuit Missionaries arrived from Europe to share their vision of culture and civilization with the Guarani natives of the tri-frontier area.

For a while, they succeeded in constructing cities of sandstone and ceramic out of the forest, blending elements of the native culture and the imported European one. Over time, foreign politics began to exercise their force on those in the area, and the light of education brought to the area began to fade.

Thinking about the absolute beauty of the place I’ve just passed through, the romantic and inspiring splendor of nature at its most furious and finest, I hope that the outside world doesn’t destroy something beautiful here again.

Mike Fox is a Collegian columnist. He can be reached at mgfox@student.umass.edu.

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