31 Oct

Itaipu Dam

ItaipuDam00In the 1970s Brazil and Paraguay set up a new entity to build a huge dam, then run the hydroelectricity plant it holds. The partnership is celebrated in the name – Itaipu Binacional, seen here in the first vehicle park visitors go to on their tour.

The most spectacular part is the overflow, which opens up when the huge artificial lake is too high. Giant doors that weigh as much as a jumbo jet are opened to let the water run down an enormous concrete channel into the river below.

ItiapuDam01The whitish pipes to the right are 10 metre diameter channels for the water to drop 100 metres to huge turbines beneath the level of the river. Paraguay gets 90% of its electricity from this generator, Brazil 30%.

There are three sections to the dam:
1. An earth and rock piece, seen here from inside the coach as we drove down from the top of this section to river level below.
2. The concrete working section with the huge tubes, turbines, switching matrixes and high voltage feeder cables to nearby pylons.
ItiapuDam023. The overflow section, also concrete, which deals with any over-high level in the dam.
I found it pretty amazing, in the ambition of its first conception, to the construction and now the invaluable contribution to green energy for the region.

31 October, 2011

31 Oct

Foz Means Mouth

My last post was from Iguassu in Brazil, with the spelling varying from time to time even within the town itself. Since the settlement developed around the Iguassu Falls, it’s tempting to think that Foz is Portuguese for Falls, but no it means Mouth. A tour guide put things right by explaining that Falls are the cataratas in Portuguese.

SAM_0754Whatever they are called and spelled, the falls are truly awe inspiring. Just prove I was there… I am the one in the red, wet T-shirt. The bridge is built out over the first level to which the mighty river descends. Below it is another drop to the new, lowest level of the river. More pictures when I can get them processed.

31 October, 2011

20 Oct

There’s An Awful Lot Of Coffee In Brazil

This afternoon I was thinking how many times I have attended meetings and conferences inside big rooms in a hotel or conference centre, most of which look and sound the same. Since arriving here two days ago I had not set foot outside the nice hotel where our group is staying. So, today I took a walk around a big block around 5.15 PM. It was still hot, probably in the upper 70s Fahrenheit, and humid. This town, Iguazu, is quite hilly in this quarter which is filled with various car shops–dealers, menders, washers, alarm-fitters. A friend who lived here for 17 years told me that the roads are such that shock absorbers, springs and electrics are all shaken to failure, so that’s why the repair shops are here.

Just outside our meeting room is excellent coffee several times per day, each supply desperately needed for weary travellers trying to make sense of multi-cultural conversations as we probe the future for this mission. What I find really odd, having travelled through multiple time zones many times, is that the 11-hour flight from London to Sao Paulo required only a three hour adjustment to the wrist watch. Usually that length flight needs a draining 8 hours. And the coffee is not so good, either.

20 October, 2011