Archive for the ‘Paraguay’ Category

Stranded in Resistencia   Leave a comment

We have changed our original itinerary; from Asunción we won’t be carrying on through the Paraguayan Chaco to Bolivia via the Mennonite Communities, but go south again to Argentina and on to Salta in the north-west of the country. Literally everyone I’ve talked to about Argentina told me that I must go to Salta. We will miss one of my favourite places in Bolivia, Tarija, as a result as we will only join the original route in Villazón, but thus I will also see something new.

In the morning we still have some time to enjoy the sights and delights of Asunción.

Pantheon of the national heroes

The Treasury

The Lido Bar by day

Then we catch the first bus of the day to Resistencia, the capital of the Chaco region in Argentina. It should arrive in plenty of time to give us the chance to catch a connecting bus to Salta at either 19.00 or 22.00 hrs.

We have not even left the Paraguayan capital when the bus breaks down…

After two and a half hours we can finally carry on. When we arrive at the border there is a huge traffic jam – six double-decker busses (like our own) are in front of us, each taking half an hour for all passengers to get their exit and entry stamps and have their luggage checked – or searched if they are unlucky.

We are allowed to cross the bridge at José Falcón on foot; and although I know that I shouldn’t, I take a few pictures of the chaos around me. And promptly, when I return to the bridge, I am stopped by an officer who politely asks to show him my photos and delete one after the other…

Dusk is falling when we can eventually travel on. To cut a long journey short, when we arrive at Resistencia it is already 23.00 hrs and all the connections are gone – the next bus doesn’t leave until 18.00 hrs the following day. We are stranded. Now in Europe, you would be accommodated in some nice hotel at the bus company’s cost and be paid some compensation on top but we are in South America (count yourselves lucky the next time you’re about to complain).

The most the bus company can do for us is that the friendly agent walks with us 100 metres from the terminal and shows us a hospedaje they normally use in emergencies like ours. The room is cheap and once upstairs we understand immediately why.

The communal bathroom

It’s already after midnight, the town centre is another five kilometres away and we are absolutely knackered from the journey. So we decide to stay and file this night under Experiences.

Posted 13 September 2014 by Pumpy in Argentina, Paraguay, The 2014 Rucksack Trip

In Paraguay   Leave a comment

The pequeno-alomoço at the Iguassu Central Bed & Breakfast is truly delightful and we’d like to thank my colleague Erika for recommending this hotel – we had a most pleasant stay.

It’s a short walk to the local bus terminal…

… where we wait for the bus to the Ponte de la Amistad (Friendship Bridge) over the Río Paraná, which forms the natural border between Brazil and Paraguay.

After obtaining the all-important exit stamp on the Brazilian side, we cross the bridge on foot.

Immigration formalities on the Paraguayan side are brief and painless and we take another bus to get to the bus terminal past the huge shopping mall that is Ciudad del Este.

After Asunción, Ciudad del Este (city of the east) is the second largest town in Paraguay, fastly growing when the controversal Itaipu Dam was built from 1975 to 1984, the world’s biggest operating hydroelectric facility in terms of annual energy generation, supplying 75% of Paraguay’s electricity and 17% of Brazil’s. The city has also been dubbed Latin America’s biggest shopping centre, attracting thousands of Brazilians and Argentinean with cheap electronics and other goods. According to the South American Handbook 2014, almost any vehicle advertised for sale was stolen in Brazil or Bolivia…

We don’t linger to find out if this allegation is true – we want to reach the Paraguayan capital today. When we get out of the local bus at the terminal, we’re immediately approached by the agents of the numerous bus companies: we have to go with them, their respective bus is the best, has the least stops, the most comfortable seats, the earliest departure. I feel quite stressed by this aggressive sales behaviour; it is unbearably hot, we need Guaraní , the local currency, water and some research in our own time, thank you very much. A young man is especially impertinent, he already writes tickets out for us but, fortunate for us, doesn’t take credit card payment. Going to the cajero (cash point) gives me time to think about our next steps. I really don’t like to be put under pressure, but it’s not mandatory to feel this way: it takes two to create such a situation.

So I try to calm down and then tell the agents in no uncertain terms what I am going to do with my money. In the end we take another bus, which leaves earlier (the young man lied to us about his departure time as well) and seems to be more reliable. I let my dad take the window seat (anything to keep him happy…) and thus in charge of collecting the photographic evidence of the day.

Impressions from the road –

At every stop street vendors enter the bus to sell food, drinks, books and other travel commodities

The Cameraman

After six and a half hours we arrive in Asunción.

We walk the line of bus company counters to find out how we can carry on, when the buses leave and how much they will cost and then take a local collectivo to the city centre (lines 14 and 38 if you want to know). I want to stay at the Hostal Española which I liked very much back in 2010. I have already filled in the registration form and am about to pay when Johannes insists that we look at the room first. And I am grateful he does – the habitación is tiny, crammed, windowless, dirty, there are ants on the floor and mosquitos on the walls and it’s just a nightmare. I look at one other room, which is only slightly better, and find on the way through the long corridors that the whole place has deteriorated considerably in the last four years. We leave in a hurry and I thank my dad profusely for applying some common sense when nostalgia got the better of me.

Fortunately we have seen another hotel on the way and find excellent accommodation there – it’s almost double the price but still good value if compared to European rates.

Showered and shaved we set off for dinner in the famous Lido Bar

We’re looked after by waitress Vicenta that evening, who recommends the best dishes of the day and takes care of everything we could possibly wish for to enjoy ourselves.

There is street music outside the bar

… and we walk through the warm winter’s night (yes, it’s over 30 degrees in Paraguay in their equivalent of early March…)

You have to watch your step though…

The presidential palace, the seat of the Paraguayan government

Many people, teenagers, families with small children, street artists and musicians are out on the Costanera enjoying a lovely Sunday evening.

Hope they are not drunk though…

We walk back to the city centre along the Avenida Republica where you find the slums on one side of the road and the parliament building on the other – so that the politicians don’t forget who they are working for.

Local wildlife…

For size comparison…

Memorial for the Independencia Americana

The Cabildo – City Council, also the Cultural Centre of the Republic

Full of wonderful impressions we fall asleep that night – tomorrow we will return to Argentina and only have the short leg to Resistencia to cover; 334 kilometres and six hours by bus.

Or so we think…

Posted 11 September 2014 by Pumpy in Paraguay, The 2014 Rucksack Trip

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