Month: November 2014

The 6 Negotiation Traps to Beware Of

In a perfect world, people would negotiate being fully transparent and no written contracts would even be necessary to be signed. As Warren Buffet once did, he never even had to sign a written contract in a deal with the giant Walmart, because they had an established trusting relationship in place and Buffet “knew that they would deliver, and they did”.

Beware of negotiation tactics in order to better position yourself

Beware of negotiation tactics in order to better position yourself

However, in most situations this is not the case. Yes, you should sign a written contract in order to set the ground rules of the relationship, and yes, you should be aware that there are dirty tricks that are often used in negotiations.

Here I will discuss some of the most famous negotiation tricks and how to avoid becoming a hostage at the table.

1. “Let’s meet up at my place”

The physical surroundings of a negotiation are known to play an enormous role in the outcome of a meeting. Often the other side picks the place they want to negotiate and sometimes this might mean they are setting you up for failure.

For example, if they arrange the negotiation to be taken place at a bar or a noisy place, they are probably trying to make you feel uneasy what will lead you to want to conclude the negotiation as fast as possible.

So, whenever you can, be the one to pick the place. This will make sure that you are negotiating in a place that you feel comfortable at, and hopefully the other side feels the same way. Remember, a good negotiator looks for mutual gains, so take into consideration the other side’s needs.

However, there are times that letting the other side pick the spot is advantageous to you. Stepping into their turf will put them at ease and more open to suggestions.

If you ever get caught up negotiating in a “uncomfortable” place express your concerns and postpone the negotiation to another time and a different place.

2. Personal attacks

This is one of the dirtiest tricks in the book, and often used by people who a poor negotiators.

In this situation the other side will make personal attacks to your appearance, ignore you, make you wait for them, refuse to make eye contact, and more.

A perfect example is if the other side makes a comment about how tired you look. All these comments are intended to put you down and make you feel self-conscious. If you do look tired the other side should not be commenting on it, as this is irrelevant to the negotiation.

Whenever you feel that you are being attacked make sure you mention it to the other side and be hard on the problem. No negotiator should have to put up with such behavior.

3. Threats

This one if self explanatory. If the other side starts making threats of taking something away from you, or doing something harmful, remember one thing: the only reason they are doing that is to build up pressure on your side. Good negotiators don’t cave in to pressure.

On the other hand, warnings are a lot more legitimate than threats. These are realistic potential outcomes that could occur in the case of failing to reach an agreement. For example, expressing that if no agreement is reached, you both should be aware that the media will expose both parties’ inability to negotiate a deal, and no one wants that.

Also, expressing your plan of action in case no agreement is reached could be seen as a warning rather than a threat. For example, “if no deal is reached we will have to go with company X instead, as we absolutely need the material Y in order to produce product Z”.

If you ever feel that you are being threatened you can do any of the following: ignore it, make them unauthorized, make them irrelevant.

Businesses often record phone calls (and express that they are doing so) to avoid either side from threatening each other, forcing them to act in their best behavior.

4. Anchoring

In this case the negotiator will try to “anchor” an initial value proposal to a lower one. For example, if you are selling a house worth $200,000 the other side might make an initial offer of $100,000, what is extremely below your expectations, increasing the amount you have to bargain for.

Anchoring the price means throwing a first desirable price

Anchoring the price means throwing a first desirable price

This technique can be advantageous when the price of a product is unknown to both sides. Letting the other side throw the first price will give you an idea of how valuable this product is to them, and from there you can begin bargaining for your price.

However, if you are aware of how much something is worth (such as the home you are selling), go right ahead and throw the first price. This will allow you to start off with some advantage and have the other side bring the value to their desired range.

Beware that throwing an unrealistic price, such as $300,00 for the house, might make you lose credibility, leading the other side to walk away from the table without even bothering.

5. “Take it or leave it!”

I believe we have all been held hostage of this tactic. When we go to a store, for example, a product has its price tag on it and that is how much it will cost you – no room for negotiation. This is a non-interactive deal making method that is very effective in most developed countries.

If you ever travel to Peru, for example, on the way to Machu Picchu you will encounter a bunch of street vendors that will be willing to sell their products to much less than what they are asking for. This happens because they have a lot more to lose if they don’t sell that product than you do if you don’t buy it.

If you ever encounter a “take it or leave it” situation ignore it at first. Carry on with your principled negotiation trying to get to the bottom of the objective criteria as to how much something is valued at. Try to present different solutions, and if you do bring up that you are aware of such tactic explain to the other side what they have to lose if they don’t make a deal.

At Michigan University, professor George Siedel in his negotiation class asks his students to bargain for a lower price in a “take it or leave it” situation, such as buying a hamburger from McDonalds. And, unlike what most of us would have guessed it, generally over 69% of the class is successful in negotiating a lower price, yielding an average discount of 40% overall.

6. Contrast Principle

This tactic is famously used by real estate agents. It is an illusion that makes things look different when presented in sequence.

Presenting houses in sequence can help boost the value of the final house

Presenting houses in sequence can help boost the value of the final house

For example, when someone is looking for a house, the real estate agent often takes the person to a really run-down house that looks horrible. The person says that there is no way that they would live in there. And then he/she takes the client to another bad looking house – once again it is a no-no. But finally, the real estate agent takes the person to a beautiful looking house – very expensive – and the client often agrees to buy it. The agent has just created the illusion that the last house is a perfect place that is extremely hard to find by presenting bad looking houses beforehand.

Most likely, if those two ran-down houses were not presented beforehand the client would not have bought the last house in the first place, and that is why you should beware of this tactic. Make sure that you always use objective criteria when analyzing a deal and avoid becoming affected by external factors.

Finally…

Becoming aware of these 6 tactics can make you a much better negotiator. It will help you become more knowledgeable of what is really going on and help you stay on track.

You can even use some of these tactics – with the exception of 2 and 3, for obvious reasons – as tools to better your position in the negotiation, as long as these don’t conflict with your ethical standards. Remember, don’t do anything that you would regret later if it were to be shown in the front page of the newspaper the next day.

 

PA

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Who would you pick to be the face of your franchise?

Let’s pretend you have hundreds of millions of dollars sitting in the bank and you want to start a new NBA franchise today. What player would you pick to build this team around?

Who would be the face of your franchise?

Who would be the face of your franchise?

I am a Lakers fan, and realistically I would not pick Kobe Bryant today to be that guy. Probably 12 years ago I would, but not today. Neither I would pick Lebron, Carmelo, or Durant.

Here I will explain to you who would I pick based on statistics with a little sprinkle of reality in the middle.

Stats Talk

Let me first define the metrics I am using to analyze each player (based on the 2013-14 season):

  • MPG: minutes per game
  • PPG: points per game
  • APG: assists per game
  • RBP: rebounds per game
  • SPG: steals per game
  • BPG: blocks per game

I have also decided to use three advanced statistics metrics because I believe they will be able to better define how effective each player really is:

  • PER: player efficiency. This is the player’s productivity per minute taking into account positive accomplishments (field goals, assists, blocks, steals, etc.) and negative accomplishments (turnovers, missed shots, fouls, etc.) – the NBA average is of 15.00
  • TS %: True shooting percentage. This is the player’s shooting efficiency taking into account 2-point field goals, 3-point field goals, and free throws
  • BPM: Box plus minus (or just +/-). This shows the impact a player has on the team taking into account when he is on and off the floor, per 100 possessions. From the team’s perspective, it represents how many points they are up or down by when the player is playing.

There is some controversy regarding the PER, because this metric is largely an offensive one, since it only takes into account two defensive statistics – blocks and steals. And since it is a “per minute” metric, it might show distorted numbers, because it cannot measure when one is playing against the other team’s second unit. However, since I am analyzing players of similar quality (all starters) and of similar minutes, this should not present a problem.

My Picks

According to a study done by Dave Berri – professor of economics at Southern Utah University – players in the NBA are at their best when they reach 24 years of age and stay that way until 25, then start declining. Of course, this is not the same case to all players, such as Jordan who won all his titles after the age of 28.

However, since I am assuming that there will be no anomaly in this sample, I have picked the top 8 players under the age of 24 in the NBA today that I believe could potentially serve as a good first building block. Assuming that every thing else is perfect – that you have a great coaching staff and you are the GM of this team – picking players this young and already established would attract other key players to play for your team.

All the data below is based on the 2013-14 NBA season:

Player Age MPG PPG APG RPG SPG BPG PER TS% BPM
Anthony Davis 20 35.2 20.8 1.6 10 1.3 2.8 26.5 58.2% 3.7
Kyrie Irving 21 35.2 20.8 6.1 3.6 1.5 0.3 20.1 53.3% 2.9
Kawhi Leonard 22 29.1 12.8 2 6.2 1.7 0.8 19.4 60.2% 5.4
DeMarcus Cousins 23 32.4 22.7 2.9 11.7 1.5 1.3 26.1 55.5% 4.2
Paul George 23 36.2 21.7 3.5 6.8 1.9 0.3 20.1 55.5% 4.5
Damian Lillard 23 35.8 20.7 5.6 3.5 0.8 0.3 18.6 56.8% 2.6
Klay Thompson 23 35.4 18.4 2.2 3.1 0.9 0.5 14.3 55.5% 0.7
John Wall 23 36.3 19.3 8.8 4.1 1.8 0.5 19.5 52.4% 2.6

From looking at the data above we can conclude a few things right off the bat:

  1. all of these players have a positive +/- average contribution
  2. all of these players have an above 50% TS %
  3. there are only 2 players who play the center/power forward position (Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins)
  4. Kawhi Leonard has considerably smaller MPG and PPG metrics
  5. Klay Thompson has considerably smaller PER and +/- average contribution

Analysis

  1. The reason why all of these players have a positive +/- average contribution is because they are all key players on their respective teams. They are all starters and play a considerable amount of minutes, contributing in all aspects of the game.
  2. Having a TS % above 50% is a good sign. The NBA average tends to be always above 50%, so these numbers are not so surprising. But to put things into perspective, last season’s MVP, Kevin Durant, had a TS % of 63.5%. So the players above aren’t doing so bad.
  3.  Unfortunately, today’s game does not have that many dominant centers anymore. The league even eliminated the center position from the All-Star ballot last year (what I think is outrageous). However, these two young players, Davis and Cousins, seem to be right up there with the best in the business, such as Noah, Howard, and Duncan. With that, these two guys have their stock values increased due to the shortage in their position.
  4. The way Greg Popovich runs his team is very different from the rest of the league (what might be a hint to the other coaches as to why they keep winning titles). Pop uses all of his bench in every game, and it is rare to see someone in the Spurs scoring more than 25 points. Consequently, Leonard has lower PPG and MPG averages in comparison to the other guys. However, he has something that no one else in this list has: a ring and a Finals MVP award.
  5. Thompson’s low PER is due to the fact that last season he did not contribute to the team all that much in any other categories besides scoring. This could be alarming, however I decided to pull Klay’s early 2014-15 season PER and we can see an improvement: 22. Aside from his new 4-year $70 million max contract extension, we can all agree that Thompson has improved a lot over the summer, as he was one of the members of the Gold medalist USA team in the FIBA World Cup. His low +/- is not alarming as I am sure this number will increase in the upcoming seasons.

With that, who would be the best pick to build a franchise around today?

Reality Check

Taking into consideration that Davis, Irving and Cousins did not play for playoff teams last year, it is easy to understand why they put up such big numbers. They were the star of their teams and got a lot of the offense going through them.

DeMarcus Cousins was not part of a playoff team in the 2013-14 season

DeMarcus Cousins was not part of a playoff team in the 2013-14 season

Wall, Lillard and Thompson played for teams that were strong playoffs contenders. Although Golden State did not get past the first round, they were still a pretty strong team, finishing 3rd in the highly competitive Western Conference. Lillard proved himself by beating the Rockets with a last second shot taking his team to the second round for the first time in years. Wall, in the other hand, managed to lead his team to the second round of the weak Eastern Conference playoffs by beating the Bulls. All three of these players have proved to be a critical part of their team’s success, but none of them ever got past the second round.

Finally, George and Leonard were part of championship contending teams. Indiana dominated the East but came up to when they lost to the stacked back-to-back NBA champions Miami Heat. Leornard’s Spurs won the title and he had a breakout season by winning the Finals MVP. His performance during that Finals took a lot of people by surprise when he showed the tip of the iceberg of his upside potential.

If I had the chance to take any single one of these guys today I would. But if I had the privilege to pick, I would go with…

My Pick

Anthony Davis.

Anthony Davis has the potential to become one of the best centers to ever play the game

Anthony Davis has the potential to become one of the best centers/power forwards to ever play the game

The hype about this guy is real. His stats are right up there among the best players in the NBA. On the 2014-15 season opener he had 9 blocks – the first player to ever do that in a season opener since the 1974-75 season. He is currently in the top 10 in points, rebounds, blocks, and steals in the league.

Considering that NBA MVPs generally have a PER of above 27.5 (Jordan has a career PER of 27.91), on his second season he recorded a PER of 26.5 – considered to be a “weak” MVP contender.

He finished in the top 5 in double-doubles recorded in the league in the 2013-14 season, with an average of 20.8ppg and 10rpg at the age of 19. Plus, the kid can shoot the ball from 18 feet with consistency.

Taking into account that he has won an Olympic gold medal in 2012 and another gold medal in the 2014 FIBA World Cup with the USA National Teams all before the age of 21 adds even more credibility to his curriculum.

He has an immense wingspan of over 7’7″, what makes it understandable why he blocks so many shots, gets so many steals, and grabs so many rebounds.

And, on top of all of that he has proven to be extremely coachable and professional at such a young age.

The sky is the limit for AD, and if he continues on this pace he will certainly become one of the best centers/power forwards to ever play the game.

With that, he would be my pick to be the face of my newly formed franchise, as he would also easily attract other key players to join the team.

I will leave you with a few of his highlights. Enjoy.

 

 

PA

Should U.S., Canada and Mexico merge into one?

Stephen J. Dubner, in Freakonomics Radio, has recently done a podcast where he explored the possibility of merging the U.S. with Mexico into one gigantic country. It was a 55 minute podcast where an immense flow of ideas came in and left American listeners with this hopeful fantasy of being able to have the best guacamole in the world for cheaper than ever.

NAFTA Logo

NAFTA Logo

In the other hand, one day I was looking for a new book at Chapters and I stumbled upon a book named The Merger of the Century by Diane Francis, where she discusses why Canada and America should become one country.

Now, as we have been hearing on the news lately, with Catalonia pushing for independence from Spain, California trying to split itself into 6 states, Scotland trying to become an independent sovereign state, and more, why not unify and become a super powerhouse? East and West Germany is a perfect example of why this is possible.

Here I will discuss the potential upside and downside for each of the North American countries, politically, economically, and socially, and why this is not a feasible idea.

Political

The American political system is something that not many people understand very well. Basically it is divided into a judiciary branch, which interprets the Constitution, federal laws and regulations; the legislative branch, which is vested in the two chambers of Congress, the Senate and the House of Representatives; and finally, the executive branch, which is headed by the president and is independent of the legislature.

U.S. Capitol - Legislative Branch

U.S. Capitol – Legislative Branch

Canada, in the other hand, is a constitutional monarchy that has a multi-party system and a legislature that derives from Great Britain’s Westminster Parliament.

Finally, Mexico is organized in a system that is somewhat similar to the U.S., with executive, legislative and judicial branches organized into a federal representative democratic republic.

Bringing Mexico and Canada into the equation would require some large political restructures for everyone. The U.S., being the larger country, would probably impose their system and begin electing Senators for each of the new states incorporated. Canada would need to detach completely from the U.K. and divide itself into democrats or republicans. Mexicans would more easily adapt into the new system.

Passing new bills, restructuring the new legislative system –  Canada and the U.S. derive from Common Law, with the exception of Quebec and Louisiana which, alongside Mexico, derive from Civil Law – would be harder than ever. Can you imagine the confusion this would cause to businesses and people?

Would we then have one single president who would rule the entire continent of North America? How would we determine whether he/she should be from Canadian, American, or Mexican descent? How about the changes in languages that Quebec has so hardly fought for through the implementation of the Bill 101? Would we not require ex-Mexicans to learn french and english in school? What kind of super citizen would we be breeding by mashing together all these different cultures and expecting them to become a single one?

And I will not even touch on how the militaries would unify, because this is a whole different ball game.

The bottom line is, regardless of how different these systems are, and the fact that this new gigantic country would be trilingual, this change would costs trillions of dollars and a restructuring that would take decades to be implemented, slowing down the growth of this country and potentially putting it in a hole impossible to get out of.

Economic

The benefits that businesses would get from this unification would probably be the only positive thing out of this merger.

Mexico has one of the strongest automotive industries in the world. Ford, GM, and Chrysler have been operating there since the 30s and nowadays it produces a lot of the technologies we see in our cars. Alongside the automotive industry, Mexico is the 6th largest producer of oil in the world. Their tourism is arguably the strongest in North America, being the 8th most visited country in the world with over 20,000,000 tourists per year.

Canada is as natural resources rich as Russia and is U.S.’ largest importer of oil. From the oil sands in northern Alberta, to the unexplored oil reserves in the Arctic Sea, to having the largest coast line in the world, the nation is an economic power house with a shortage of workers.

The U.S.’ financial markets account to nearly 45% of the world’s market and has an immensely diversified economy. From the tech hub located in the Silicon Valley, to the off shore oil explorations in Louisiana, to their internal real estate dynamics, the country represents 22% of the nominal global GDP, being the strongest economy in the world.

If these three countries unified, the final result would account to a GDP of over $20.6476 trillion.

But how beneficial would this unification really be? By summing up the numbers everything indicates that it would be a great idea, however we need to take into account the different legislations that govern these economies, which allow them to flourish in the way they do.

The different currencies would present an issue

The different currencies would present an issue

The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was created for the strengthening of each country’s economy without interfering with the way the countries are ran. Since the dynamics of an economy are highly tied to the country’s politics, changing the internal legislation of each nation to accommodate this North American merger would affect a lot more than just the economy. What about the currency? The Canadian dollar is lower than the American right now, and the Mexican peso is worth nearly $0.07. How would this new country compensate for the financial shift that would occur?

That is why NAFTA is such an asset to these countries, because it allows them to become a trilateral economy (free trade and exchange of workforce with TN Visas) without compromising their independence and currencies.

And let’s not forget about the darkside of Mexico. The cartels run large drug trafficking operations from South America (where they get a lot of their drugs) all the way to the U.S. (who are their largest consumers). Although the DEA works hard to keep things in order in the Southwest (Braking Bad will show you exactly how), becoming one gigantic country would enable drug lords to move illicit drugs across North America with much more ease than ever before, now that they don’t need to go around borders anymore.

Therefore, the economical upside isn’t as good as we would have thought, since there already is a great agreement in place that allows these three countries to operate in a trilateral economy.

Social

The social changes from a merger would be unimaginable.

Canada U.S. Mexico
Population 35.16 million 320.05 million 122.33 million
Area 9,984,670 km2 9,857,306 km2 1,972,550 km2
Unemployment (%) 6.4% 5.9% 5.2%
GDP per capita $40,588 $50,859 $16,143
Life Expectancy 81 years od 79 years old 78 years old
Water System Excellent Excellent Poor

From looking at the data above we can conclude a few things:

  1. Canada has a lot of uninhabited land
  2. The U.S. has an immense amount of people (who make good money)
  3. The average Mexican makes barely enough money to pay rent

Now, with all the immigration issues that the U.S. has with Mexico, it would be safe to say that once these nations merged, a large chunk of the Mexican population would migrate to the U.S.’ current land to look for jobs. The Mexican work force is a lot younger than the U.S.’ and is used to get paid a lot less. This would bring the minimum wage down across this new gigantic nation, bringing down with it the GDP per capita.

Americans would not be very happy about that, and would start moving up to Canadian lands to work in the oil sands (more than they do now). This increased workforce competitiveness would increase the unemployment rate in the northern part of the territory and Canadians would not be happy about that.

A few Canadians would then move down to warmer regions, such as Arizona and California, and eventually move back after suffering from severe sun burns.

Jokes aside, this new nation would cause an immense amount of inland migration leading to severe impacts on unemployment rates and lowered average income, causing the nation to collapse. Plus, the government would need to find a way to standardize and restructure Mexico’s water treating system.

Another big issue to consider is how would this new nation deal with the elderly. Nowadays, Connecticut pays for a large amount of elderly compensation across the U.S., whereas poorer states, such as Mississippi, need a lot more compensation than other states. Bringing in Mexican retired people, who live under the American poverty line, would require this new nation to compensate the southern territory with larger retirement checks, leading income taxes across the country to sky rocket.

Finally, these are only a few of my social predictions from this unification, and I am sure that there are a million other scenarios that we could think of that would lead to a million more, and so on. The bottom line is, merging these three countries into a single one with a population of almost half a billion people would require a lot of governmental changes to compensate for the inequality that would result from this.

Plausible Solution?

Mexicans are very proud of their culture and are not willing to melt into a single nation identity. Canadians are on the same boat, they are proud of the maple leaf and would never want to unify their hockey team with the Americans’ (I cannot imagine Mexicans playing hockey, I’m sorry). So the Americans are standing in the middle with their hands in the air thinking: what do we have to gain from this?

The North American Union would be extremely large

The North American Union would be extremely large

One possible dream that Mexico’s ex-president Vicente Fox proposed on Freakonomics Radio was to create a union, such as the European Union, where countries are independent but people do not need a passport to move around the continent or live somewhere else.

This would be called the North American Union and would potentially bring a lot of benefits to the continent. However, Europe has shown us that it is not all sunshine and rainbows; when one country struggles, the others suffer from it too, leading to inland migration to the countries that are doing well, increasing unemployment rates, and so on. The repercussions from such a Union would be somewhat similar to a merger.

Dreaming is fun, but maybe things should just remain the way they are.

 

PA

Band of the Month: Run River North

I came across these guys when was listening to some playlists on 8Tracks, and I comboed: Chill + Mountains

I know weird combo of key words (my inner hipster was talking louder than my brain) but an awesome playlist came up and there were about 2 songs by Run River North in there.

I YouTube’d these guys and now they are one of my favorite bands.

They formed in 2011 and were formerly known as Monsters Calling Home. They’re from California and are a Korean-American indie rock band.

Not your average hipster band. These guys are original.

Here are some of my top picks from their last album:

“Growing Up”

“Somewhere”

“Excuses”

 

PA

Headspace: The Meditation App That Will Change Your Life

This is my first post under the tech tab. And what better way to start it off with one of my favorite apps: Headspace.

Headspace App Logo

Headspace App Logo

Let me first explain who is behind this app. Andy Puddicombe is a British born man who midway through his Sport Science degree decided to drop out to become a monk. I could end his bio here and we would all agree that this guy is the coolest dude on earth.

So he travelled to the Himalayans to study meditation and embarked in a 10 year journey that took him around the world learning and teaching Tibetan Buddhism.

When he returned to London he completed a degree in Circus Arts with the Conservatoire of Dance and Drama and started the company Headspace. He is also author of 2 books, featured on Men’s Health mag, gave a speech at TED Talks, and more.

The bottom line is, this guy is legit.

The App

The app will give you 10 free introductory guided sessions of ten minutes each teaching you the basics of meditation. This is part of the Fundamentals Package where Andy will guide you through some of the techniques of meditation in an easy and interactive way for the Western world fast paced people.

After you finish the ten sessions you will love it so much that you will subscribe and purchase the yearly (or lifetime) subscription so you can practice meditation every day.

This is the website in case you are wondering about the prices: https://www.headspace.com/

As you finish your 30 sessions, which are part of the fundamentals course, you will unlock the rest of the app which provides you with meditation to cure stress, anxiety, provide happiness, increase focus and imagination, and more.

If you want to take your game to the next level this app is for you. Think of this as a gym membership for your brain.

Download the app here.

 

PA

My Trip to the Tropical Paradise of Foz do Iguaçu (Iguaçu Falls)

Over the summer of 2014 I got the opportunity to visit Foz do Iguaçu in the state of Parana, Brazil.

There are plenty of stuff to do there but I would not recommend staying there for longer than 4 days (unless you intend to adventure into Argentina or Paraguay for a few extra days).

Day 1

When we arrived in the airport of the city of Foz do Iguaçu and picked up our rental standard vehicle, we drove down the Avenida das Cataratas and saw multiple hotels and resorts along the highway. Most people prefer to stay in those rather than finding a place in the city, since the national park is just 10 to 20 minutes away from any hotel along the road.

Av. das Cataratas

Av. das Cataratas

We stayed at the Harbor Hotel Colonial, on kilometer 20 of the Av. das Cataratas. It is a nice hotel with a pool and a restaurant. The rooms provide you with just enough of what you need. Since we were planning on spending most of our days outside, we did not care much about the fanciness of the hotel.

The national park of the Iguacu Falls opens daily at 9am and closes at 5pm. By the time we arrived at the hotel, it had already been closed so we decided to go into the city to have dinner. We had heard a lot of good things about a place named La Mafia, an italian restaurant based on the film The Godfather.

And wow, what a unique place.

The restaurant is situated in a house that had been turned into an eatery, located in a skinny dark street – perfect scenario for the italian mafia themed place. All the waiters were dressed like in the movie and the rooms were decorated differently from each other, portraying a different scene of the movie. The food was great, and so was the wine. 10/10.

Day 2

The following day we we went to the National Park. They charge you a daily fee of R$52,20 for foreigners and R$31,20 for Brazilians. After you pay, you hop into a air conditioned bus (trust me you will be glad it is air conditioned) which takes you into the park. There is only one two-way road that reaches a final destination at a restaurant, but along the way you can choose to get off at multiple locations to start your trail throughout the falls.

We chose to go on an adventure with Macuco Safari, which takes your through the forest and explains to you in english and portuguese a little bit of the history of the place and the different types of trees and animals that live in that ecosystem. When you reach the end of the ride you hop in a boat that takes you under the gigantic falls. Yes, they take you right under one of the largest water falls in the world.

It is scary as hell and people had told us that a boat had flipped upside down before during one of those tours. I was holding on for my dear life during the ride, but I could not understand how one of those boats had flipped. They are massive and the pilots do that on a regular basis. There is no need to be afraid about that sort of thing.

Macuco Safari boat

Macuco Safari boat

We also spend the day walking through the trails and taking photos. The scenery is absolutely jaw-dropping. Make sure your camera is charged, and that you bring extra batteries and a plastic bag.

The waterfalls are so massive that water sprays all over you and you will get wet, and so will your camera if you don’t cover it.

I got to walk on a catwalk over the Devil’s Throat. Yes, they named a place the goddamn Devil’s Throat. This is a massive water fall that kind of makes the shape of a half moon and millions of tons of water go through it every second. It is loud, it is wet, it is nature telling you who’s the boss.

At the end of the day, after we finished walking through all the trails in the Brazilian side, dodging hungry Quatis and slapping mosquitos off of our arms, we visited the Parque das Aves (Birds’ Park), where you get to see Rio 1 and 2 in real life. There are so many different birds and walk in cages that at one point a toucan was trying to pick a fight with me. At the end of the tour you get to put a macaw on your arm and take a picture with it.

Day 3

This was our last full day at the tropical paradise so we decided to go visit the Argentinian side. Most of the falls are located on that side, so instead of observing them from a far, now we were walking through them.

Massive waterfall on the Argentinean side

Massive waterfall on the Argentinean side

It was quite the experience as you get a lot wetter. Oh, and make sure that when you cross the boarder you exchange your Brazilian reais for Argentinian pesos, because otherwise you will starve.

Our South American neighbors were very receptive and understanding of the fact that I could not speak spanish to save my life. They also have great meat at a ridiculously low price. It is a great place to eat and drink.

Day 4

We used the morning to relax by the pool and read. The previous days had been very hard on our legs, so taking this time off is essential to give yourself a break. Our flight back to Sao Paulo was in the early afternoon and that was the end of our amazing trip to one of the seven wonders of the world.

I highly recommend this place to anyone looking for some adventure as you can go skydiving and do white water rafting if you have the guts. The scenery is beautiful, the people are great, the food is impeccable, and it is really easy to get around.

 

PA