Paraguay Habitat Build plus Uruguay and Argentina

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February 9th 2011
Published: March 17th 2011
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South America does meatSouth America does meatSouth America does meat

Buenos Aires dinner
One month to go-I have everything quite organized-biggest group ever as a leader. I am leaving early (on March 15th) for Buenos Aires and Uruguay-This is my first trip to South America-plan is to leave Vancouver on March 14th, then fly out on the 15th,arriving in Buenos Aires on March 16th. I will meet up with 2 other HFH participants in Buenos Aires. We then plan to take the ferry to Colonia in Uruguay and stay there for one night. After that we bus it to Montevideo for a one night stay -then off to Iguazu Falls and Asuncion.

I am very ready for this trip (as of Feb 27th) One sad note -Casey the beagle is no longer with us as she got throat cancer and was put to sleep on Feb 19th.

Friday March 11,2011
I think I am ready -still cleaning up some work things but not a lot left to do.I will start packing this weekend.
Monday March 14,2011
Finally away- left on BC ferries from Schwartz Bay to Tswassen, leaving Salt Spring involves cars, buses , trains ,ferries and a bus just to get within shuttle distance of Vancouver Airport. I leave YVR at 7.40 AM tomorrow for Houston etc-then dont get to Buenos Aires until Wednesday March 16th.

Left Vancouver on time at 7.40 AM on 15th March after short night in La Quinta Inn. The flight to Houston was Ok (4 hours) with low point being the subsequent layover of 7 plus hours in the Houston Airport.

We finally left at 9.00 PM on Continental 53 for Buenos Aires. A good flight, slept most of the way after what passes for food on Continental (apparently it was ravioli) I washed it down with red wine.Customs and Immigration in Argentina a non-event except for $150 USF fee (ripoff) by government -apparently in retaliation for visa fee Canada charges.

I got the shuttle to HI Florida Suites -long trip but hostel is fine, lots of students and a few older travellers.I left my bags and then headed to explore downtown, got usual flag patch and free music event poster for the gym.

Joined at 5.30 by Dan and Barb-out for beers and huge steak dinner-they really do meat here -see the picture
Wine very cheap and good- about $8.00 for a good bottle of red wine.

To bed at 10.30 for poor sleep -room was quite hot
It is now St Patricks Day and we are on the Buquebus ferry to Colonia Uruguay, nice boat and trip will take about an hour for $60USF or so-people are ravaging the duty free shop.If we had taken the slow ferry (3 hours) it would have been considerably cheaper($10)

In on time and we then walked our luggage to the nearby bus depot where we put the bags in a locker.
We then toured the old town and had lunch and beer. At 3.30 we called it a day, retrieved our luggage and went to Posada del Bosque by taxi -a long way out but very nice spot. about $50 usf each. Tonight we will go back down to Old Town for dinner-maybe tuna.

We went back down town to the chosen restaurant and had beef-so &**()tough rhat a Stihl would have had trouble. We bailed after paying the bill and went for wine at another place-late night

Friday March 18th
A great sleep, nice light breakfast then off to bus depot at about 120 kph in taxi., We caught the 10.30 luxury bus (for $10.00 to Montevideo) and

A new taste sensation-happy hour at the Secret Garden B and B in Iguazu
got there about 1.00 PM. Very nice and MVD is the best place so far - In hindsight we would have spent more time there.

We stayed in Cuidad Vieja which is the old part of MVD. Tonight we will be going to a wine bar/music/tango demo place as recommended by the owner of the guest house ( Casa Serandi)
Wonderful evening and great music - was an evening with real Uruguayans - no other tourists

We caught flight the next day to Puerto Iguazu -absolutely the best waterfall I have ever seen -better than Niagara and Victoria-we also did a guided birdwalk - about 45 new species.We stayed at Secret Garden B and B-another great place to stay-highly recommended - fantastic cocktail hour (Our introduction to the Caprehina)

Thanks to John from the Secret Garden (a superb host) we took a taxi to Paraguay via a ferry across the Plata to Cuidad del Esta to catch the bus to Asuncion- nice comfortable 6 hour bus ride for about $10 USF.

Asuncion is a busy city of about 2 million-not quite as moden as MVD and lots of motorcycles-they have 20 motorcycle casualties per week. Apparently
The Falls at IguazuThe Falls at IguazuThe Falls at Iguazu

The best falls I have seen - better than Victoria and Niagara
these are Chinese motorcycles which are assembled here and you can get a real nice 150 cc cruiser (new) for $600 cdn-licensing requirements are a bit slack and you see people on motorcycles roaring through traffic wearing T shirts, flip flops and talking on cell phones etc.

We started the build on March 23d-hot day but fortunately overcast.
We put in 3 excellent build days and got a lot done - the days got hotter (37C and humid) and we had 2 people down with heat issues for 2 days each-The secret is to pace yourself and drink lots of water.

We also have to keep putting on lots of sunscreen and bug repellent-dengue fever is all over the news-back in Iguazu they also have yellow fever and malaria so mosquitoes come fully loaded...

We are staying at the Pelican Hotel- Ex Brazilian airline pilot and his wife own it and they cant do enough for us-it is like staying in someones house- amazing and it seems every place we stayed is like that.

Saturday we did the obligatory museum/cathedral/historic site tour along with some shopping in the heat. We went to a football game on
Our Habitat team in ParaguayOur Habitat team in ParaguayOur Habitat team in Paraguay

At the start of the day with clean shirts
Saturday night-absolutely the best-screaming and dancing fans,lots of aggressive vendors-bought a Cere shirt. After half time we had a huge rain event and barely made it home due to BF waterfalls on the streets.

A few of us got the leather craft terere matte containers- should be a good margarita container.
Sunday was a day off so we went out to a ranch in the country (owned by our drivers family - Miguel)
I saw some new birds but Py rural areas dont seem to have much wildlife

We started up again on Monday Am and made some major brick work progress until noon when the skies opened again- We abandoned the site to go bowling but unfortunately the bowling alley was closed so we went shopping instead.Tonight we had egg plant and lots of it,then to bed.

Tuesday we worked all day with a full team-got lots done including wall bricks,digging of septic hole, tile painting etc
Wednesday was one of our best days yet-we finished the tiles and septic hole plus completion of all the walls and some landscaping
Thursday was supposed to be hot and sunny but we lucked in again and got mixed
Progress on the siteProgress on the siteProgress on the site

The walls going up
clouds and sun- one more minor casualty with a sore throat- national emergency declared today for Dengue Fever- we have all been putting on lots of repellent.
Friday we did our last half day of building including a new patio area cemented in with a $100 donation from surplus R and R funds-
Back to hotel at 2.00 or so for free time and a large spaghetti dinner at the Pelican. Before dinner we went to a foster care home run by a couple-14 little kids-we took a lot of toys and clothes and played soccer for a while with the kids-quite inspiring and sad.
A number of people went down the street to the Sheraton bar after dinner for Caprehina drinks-crushed lime,sugar and sort of a rum....
Saturday morning we did the dedication-quite moving,lots of hugs and tears as usual at one of these events.

This was a meat day - we had a barbecue for lunch, then another barbecue for dinner.After dinner we had the good fortune to sit in on an impromptu concert by some Paraguayan musicians around the pool- A wonderful singer named Lucy plus 2 guitarists.

On Sunday we checked out out of
One of the homeownersOne of the homeownersOne of the homeowners

Standing in his new front door
Le Pelican to go on our R and R trip. The first stop was the cathedral at Cacuppe. Some of our group took in the service and the rest of us did some merchandise shopping. The cathedral is a major destination for Paraguayans and tourists and therefore provides a ready market for those looking for religous artifacts
-One booth owner decided to cover all eventualities and had crosses,icons etc adjacent to a wide selection of instructional/demonstration DVDs devoted to earthier pursuits (Porn)

After Cacuppe, we headed off to the La Quinta Ranch for another meat experience before checking in to our rooms-a very nice place which used to be a dairy farm. It has been converted to tourism and has a pool, horseback riding,etc.
In the evening we had a pasta meal and then the girls were victors at soccer.

We checked out the next day and went to an adventure hike/park (Eco Village) where we did the whole trail complete with 3 cable suspension bridges, a zip line and a rappel down a 150 foot cliff. Quite an experience. After this mini-adventure we went lace shopping which was a bit of a contrast. We then returned to
Last day celebrationsLast day celebrationsLast day celebrations

Alexi (homeowner) presents the HFH certificate
Asuncion for the farewell dinner.
Everyone went their separate ways the next day. This was a great trip and our team all were treated like royalty by the Paraguay Habitat staff. One of the best trips ever for me and the team members all had a great time.

Additional photos below
Photos: 12, Displayed: 12


Jefe and the masonsJefe and the masons
Jefe and the masons

A great bunch to work with- best part of Habitat is working with local people
R and R adventuresR and R adventures
R and R adventures

Heading down the trail
Site for the RappellingSite for the Rappelling
Site for the Rappelling

looks easier from the bottom

20th March 2011

Too Much Fun!!
Hey Murray, All in all it sounds like a great trip so far. I'll look forward getting to more South American food & wine reviews. We had an evening with Jan, Pat & Andy at Mary Mile's last week - it was great to see Jan - they are all looking forward to China - I'm not thinking about it. Cheers, Mike

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