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Published: January 18th 2019
Today we are travelling 200 miles west to the Paraguayan capital of Asunción . By bus. This is the old man’s route planning; I am a little bemused why anyone would want to do either of these things.
The bus departs from Ciudad del Este in Paraguay, so first we must cross the border. We briefly consider the bus-border-bus-border-bus combination. Then book a taxi.
The good news is that we make good time through the border. The bad news is that the taxi driver has forgotten the time zone change, so we arrive at the bus station two hours early. Fortunately, the bus company (NSA) has a VIP lounge where we can wait in air conditioned luxury, which is good as it’s 40 degrees outside.
I’ve not been looking forward to this journey but the bus is, in fact, the most luxurious bus I have ever seen. So I recline in my semi-cama and watch Paraguay unfold. The colours are vibrant; lush green vegetation, rich red soil, and everything in between covered in a layer of orange dust. It’s like driving through a traffic light.
Over 6 hours later, long after I’m over the vibrancy of the
colours, we reach Asunción. Our hotel has seen better days, decades even. The room, although rather tired and tatty is enormous. You could definitely swing a cat here, and not even have to worry about making a mess.
We have dinner (beer and a selection of empanadas) at a nearby bar. My guide book describes Paraguay as ‘off the beaten track’ and I can see why it’s not a popular tourist destination; it’s hot and dirty and dangerous enough for most shops and restaurants to have armed guards. A street vendor tries to sell us Swiss Army knifes while we’re eating. It’s rather unsettling when he suddenly flicks a blade in our face. We’re not totally sure if we’re being mugged - he maybe needs to work on his sales pitch.
After dinner I go for a swim in the hotel’s rooftop pool and watch the sun set over the River Paraguay, much of which appears to be on fire. We have 36 hours left in Asunción, which is plenty.
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