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Published: February 23rd 2011
From the roof of the Hotel Chaco
Finally! It’s been go, go, go, but at last I have a chance to update!
First, let me take a moment to give a shout out to my sweat-sister, and you know who you are, Jessica Chait! This may be very hard for you all to believe (especially the salseros) but I have NEVER, EVER been as sweaty as I have been these first few days in Paraguay. I mean, 90 degrees, 200% humidity, crowded in to a bus that’s sitting completely still at a stoplight, literally dripping with sweat. O.M.G!!!
Ok! Now that you’ve got that fabulous visual: Landed in Asunción, Paraguay (the capital) and spent several days there. Asunción is beautiful and friendly and so contrasty. There are shanty towns with homes made out of metal along the river, and then even poorer people living at one the parks in the city (picture a smaller City Park just loaded with the homeless and their tents), and then the posh side has all kinds of fancy clubs, bars, and even a casino! It’s crazy! However, unlike Dtown, there is no begging.
Took a side trip to Itauguá, famous for its lace-makers, which was an
Favelas at the edge of the river
hour outside the city (and yes, I bought a doily). Just as the Lonely Planet book describes, our bus broke down on the side of the road. People instantly got up, got their refund, and got off the bus as if it happens all the time. Lucky for us, there was another bus that came along right after.
Then, we were off to Encarnación, just south of Asunción to see the nearby Jesuit ruins and, we thought, indulge in their rumored wild Carnaval parties, which run each weekend in February leading up to the big dates of Carnaval (March 8-11). Well, our bus driver (on one of those nice buses with a/c this time because the trip is 5-6 hours) hit a pedestrian on the road. The ambulance and police came and I think the person lived, but it delayed us by an hour and a half. We arrived at Encarnación at 10pm, rain coming down, and started to walk the town. After about an hour or so of that, it was obvious that there were absolutely NO rooms in the entire city. Carnaval is a huge, big deal. (Note to self, make reservations ahead during Carnaval season if
visiting Encarnación on the weekend.) Finally, thanks to the kindness of a stranger who made a few calls, we were advised that it would be easiest simply to cross the border into Argentina and find lodging there. Yahoo, that’s what we did!
We did cross back into Paraguay the next day to visit the Jesuit ruins. A fabulous excursion until the end, when we were caught in a TORRENTIAL DOWNPOUR!!! Imagine standing directly under your showerhead with the water on full blast. We made some friends at the bus stop (travelers from Chile, Columbia, Bolivia). Finally, because were waiting forever for the bus, one of the girls flagged down a semi-truck and we rode in the cab of the semi into the next town! Can you say…adventure?!? And eventually made it all the way back….
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