Paraguay

May 1, 2010

Welcome to Paraguay!

I had to ride another 50 k that morning after breaking camp, and arrived at this Paraguayan outpost…not sure what they really did since they didn’t stamp my passport or do any of the bike paperwork, but they asked me a lot of questions about where I came from, where I stayed overnight, etc. I am not a very good liar, and so finally just told them that I slept in the jungle in a hammock. THE WERE HORRIFIED! They could not believe that I’d slept out alone, and they kept saying “tigres” and I said incredulously, “tigres, tigres“? Yes of course. More like jaguars they said, but they are there, and that I should not have camped alone. Ha! good thing I did not know about the jaguars before I tried to sleep…sometimes ignorance IS bliss!

[I wrote an article for RumBum.com on my night in the Chaco, and you can read it here.]

The border officials also asked me if I had enough fuel to go another 200 k…NOPE! So they suggested I go back about 10 k and try to buy gay from this family…

Um…she  decanted the gas from a large plastic container  into two litre bottles…and I could see the stuff swimming around int he bottles. Uh oh. I asked for a rag, and, well, filtered my gas as best as I could.

Hey, back through the “border” again! (This time I just waved at them).

Is this? Could it be? What? Pavement?!? Whahoo!

Is this? Could it be? What? SUPER grade gasoline?!? You mean no more 84 octane that *acts* like 78 octane???!!!  Whahoo!

Um, Ok, THAT gas price is just a little scary!
(Exchange rate $1 = 4765 Guarani) Phew!

Ok, here I just have to say thwo things

1. Everyone walks around with their Terere…basically a large pitcher of tea with a metal straw sticking out (technically called an “infusion” or a “mate”. It’s quite the social centerpiece, and some of the terere‘s are quite quite ornate and beautiful. When I did the paperwork for the bike they invited me to try some (i declined–I’d seen how many people put their lips on that one straw and it gave me the germ-willies!) but it was a really nice gesture, and they all passed their tereres around and shared.

2. Paraguay had a bunch of Mennonites settle in the country, and it was just damned *weird* to suddenly be address in German rather than in Spanish. They all assumed with my light eyes I was one of them and would address me in German first and then I would have to explain it was Spanish only for me. To see all these obviously German-alike faces speaking fluent FLUENT Spanish was a bit boggling.

More dirt roads on the way to FILADELFIA.

In “Lonely Planet” I read about this hotel that was the best deal in town…and it sure was. I stayed in one of the “Cheap” rooms with a shared bath down the hall, but they had great food and free wifi…the place was obviously run by Germans and not Latinos, and everything was clean, orderly, and efficient. I even dared to eat the salad!!!

yeah, and some german  torte, too!

Sheesh, I thought I was in heaven! I stayed for two nights! Hotel Florida was definitely a gringo oasis, but at this point I did not care. It was clean & comfy & did I mention it had free WiFi and good food? 🙂

Here’s a pic at  the breakfast buffet:

It was here that I started organizing my return home…Edward had taken a job in Idaho Falls, Idaho, and so from Filadelfia, Paraguay we started hatching my plans for post-South America. I was missing Edward like crazy after 7 months apart, I found myself staying several nights at whatever place felt comfortable and clean, time was dragging a bit, and it just seemed like I needed a break from travel, so why not head home.

May 2, 2010

My last morning at breakfast I talked with Johnny, a tour-guide, and he gave me some ideas for a scenic route to ride. His group was going to Concepcion, and he gave the name of a good  hotel. I vaguely said I’d go that way and he left with his group.

Leaving downtown Filadelfia. Paraguay seems “richer” is the quantity of mopeds are any indication. The photo doe snot show it well, but they buzzed around like gnats all over town!

At the left turn towards Concepcion, the police tried to talk me out of riding that road saying it was not in good shape. True, the road was not in good shape but the scenery was downright spectacular, and I am so glad I followed Johnny’s advice.

Potty break.

Ok, I did a double take at this scene and circled back. Sorry I have a small camera, but these are BIRDS, folks. Tall as a fence post, they look like a cross between an ostrich and a pelican. Wearing a tuxedo. Holy Moly, was I excited!

I rode by lots of indigenous villages. These kids were walking the bicycle herding these cows and  assured me that this was dinner, not a prank.

I arrived in Concepcion and found the hotel Johnny had recommended. They surprised me by knowing all about me and having  room reserved for me already. Nice to have friends! I dumped my gear and headed off towards the port.

After dark I went back to the hotel, and got a message from johnny. His group invited me to join them for dinner, so he came and picked me up in the tour van. we had a lovely evening.

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