Thursday, March 1, 2012

Itaipu Dam

Today marks the first day of the last month of my travels.  I thought that by the time that March 1 rolled around I'd be nervous and quickly trying to cram a lot of stuff into the last 4 or 5 weeks that I have,  but mostly I'm happy that I have that much time left.

Today I went to Itaipu Dam,  located north of Iguassu Falls on the Para river.  It is the largest hydroelectric dam in the terms of annual generating capacity.  The new three gorges dam in China will give it a run for its money,  as it has a greater installed capacity,  but so far Itaipu is holding the lead.

I probably wouldn't have known about the dam but for a piece of music by Philip Glass.  I had meant to listen to the piece while touring the dam,  but entirely forgot to put it on my iPod before I left home.   I'll just take care of listening to it when I get back. 

My visit to the dam made two interesting things possible.  The first is that the dam is listed as one of the 7 wonders of the modern world by the American Society of Civil Engineers.  It turns out there are lots of lists of 7 wonders of the world,  so take your pick.  Either way,  I'm glad to have seen it.  For me that takes me up to a total of 5 that I've seen,  which include the CN Tower in Toronto, The Empire State building in NYC,  The Golden Gate Bridge, and the Delta Works in the Netherlands.  Still on the list to see are the Chunnel between England and France, and the Panama Canal.  I don't expect to see either of those on this trip.  :)

The second thing that happened is that I visited Paraguay.  The dam is built across the river which forms the border between Brazil and Paraguay,  and during the tour there are a few times where a painted yellow line is pointed out as being the center of the river and the dividing line between the two countries.  Then you cross over the line.  See below for Jacques visiting both countries at the same time. 

So that was my main adventure for the day.  On the way back to my hostel I tripped and fell.  I did this yesterday as well,  and today I twisted the same ankle that I twisted yesterday,  and banged up my knee,  also the same knee I got some nice road rash on yesterday.  So the rest of the day is dedicated to me sitting and recovering,  rather than trying to get into Paraguay via the Friendship Bridge.  That would have been problematic anyway.  There are muggings on the bridge so I would have had to catch a bus or taxi,  and Paraguay requires visas for US citizens,  which I do not have.  I've heard they are fairly lax at this border since they figure you're only going to be there for a few hours,  but I wasn't looking forward to trying my luck.  Since I was in Paraguay at the dam,  I'm calling it good and spending some time relaxing and healing.  The next few days will be dedicated to trying to get the best possible shots of Iguassu Falls themselves.

Atop the dam,  the reservoir is on the left

Atop the dam,  looking down to the river.


Peering down into the structure of the dam itself

Same location,  looking up many stories to the light.

Master Control Room

Jacques,  ass in Brazil,  Head in Paraguay.

A very long hallway

One of the turbine generator's shafts.  Below is water swirling madly around in pipes causing the entire construction to spin.  Above is the generator itself,  outfitted with high powered magnets which when spun cause an electrical current in the nearby wires.

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