Rain-forests are the lungs of the planet. The jungle is a bountiful pharmacy, the source of at least one-quarter of all prescription drugs developed for the well being of humankind. Seventy-percent of all plants identified by the National Cancer Institute for use in cancer treatments are found only in rain forests. The jungle is the only place on earth where one can breathe pure oxygen that does not come from a tank.
The long awaited trip to Argentina, that had been planned well in advance, I feared was too much for my bronchial condition. After several trips to the doctor and taking three different types of antibiotics had done nothing to relieve my illness. Bedridden for twelve days, with a temperature of 102, and a constant cough had left me drained. Never-the-less, when the departure day arrived I crawled out of bed and dawned a surgical mask for the ten hour flight to Iguazu Falls. During the flight my persistent cough became so irritating the flight attendant asked me move to the back of the plane. Of course I did, and even covered my head with a blanket during the remainder of the flight. As we deplaned everyone cut a wide path around me, which was understandable.
At 4:00 p.m. I was exhausted when I checked into the Sheraton Iguazu Hotel, located at the base of the waterfall. Shrouded in mist I stood on the balcony and observed the natural beauty that surrounded me. Within an hour my breathing became easier and for the first time in two weeks I slept through the night.
In the early morning hour a rainbow, like an artist painting, colored the sky. Feeling famished I entered the main dining room and consumed two huge bowls of acai berries before embarking on the thirty minute walk to the widest waterfall in the world, which is 2 Kilometers wide. From the bridge, jutting out over Iguazu falls, a heavy mist filled the air, and clouds swirled as a violent mass of water cascaded into the Iguazu River. At the base of the Garganta del Diablo (Devil’s Throat), I watched a boat glide across the river and dock on the Brazilian side. Drenched to the skin I clung to the railing of the bridge and was overcome by the beauty and power of it all.
Later that afternoon Hank, my tour guide, led me deeper into the unique world of animals and vegetation. Danger, mystery, and intrigue followed me as we wound through the jungle maze. Hank told me, “This is one of the last remaining regions where natural populations of rare and endangered plants, animals,