SPORTS

Touring Brazil: Take in one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World

Iguazu Falls is of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. (Carol Ecker)
Iguazu Falls is of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. (Carol Ecker)

Editor’s note: Tom Ecker of Cedar Rapids is an Olympic historian.

 

RIO DE JANEIRO — This is my ninth trip to the Olympic Games, my eighth as a tour escort.

Some people think I am a tour guide, but I am an escort, not a guide. The difference? A guide has to know something.

Presently, I am working for a specialized magazine, Track and Field News, which has offered tours to all of the Olympic Games since 1952 — even to the 1980 Olympics in Moscow, which the U.S. boycotted.

My duties are pretty simple. I lead pre-Olympic tours to nearby destinations, and then manage one of the Olympic hotels during the Games.

My first Olympic experience with Track and Field News was in Montreal in 1976. I was asked to be in charge of hospitality for the entire tour group — almost 3,000 people. Since 1976, the escorting assignments have taken me to Olympic Games on five different continents.

This year, the pre-Olympic tour began in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where we enjoyed watching the tango and eating big, juicy steaks. Then it was on to Iguazu for three days. Little-known Iguazu Falls — on the borders of Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay — is listed as one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. From the Argentina side, you see the falls from above. From the Brazil side you see them from below. A mile-and-a-half wide, with a 240-foot drop, Iguazu is too big and beautiful to describe adequately.

It is said that Eleanor Roosevelt visited Iguazu Falls in the 1930s and commented, “Poor Niagara.”

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