Trip Start Feb 16, 2006
Trip End Dec 21, 2006

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Flag of Paraguay  ,
Thursday, May 18, 2006

Hot hot hot greetings from Conception, on the river Paraguay, Tropic of Capricorn

Hi everyone, and it is a cool 29 C here in Concepcion, which is cool for here, in the summer it gets up to 45, with very high humidity, so a real furnace. The streets are made of red dust and outside the pace is slow. Here in the air con Internet cafe things are a bit more manageable.

So far Paraguay gets the thumbs up, it is very cheap, and very poor. I walked in from Brazil (just passed though so did not need a stamp), over the friendship bridge, and when you got the Paraguayan half there was not longer a security mesh to stop you falling, there was litter everywhere and the observation point smelt like a toilet. Cuidad del Este was a bit like that, and I have heard it is very dangerous, especially at night. Someone I talked to estimated that 90% of cars, and buses are stolen in Brazil, and whizzed over the border, where no questions are asked. I went through Cuidad del Este on a holiday and the morning, so was OK. Got the bus to Trinidad, after bargaining for the price it was 3 pounds sterling (4.5€ I think, not up on my conversions here 30000 GS at any rate) for the 5 hours!!! The Jesuit mission ruin was amazing, and was only spoilt by the arrival of some drunken Russian tourists, and then some locals who kicked a football up against the ruin walls!!! I camped outside the ruins for free, after talking to the park ranger there, and there were no problems. The sun sets about 1700 local time and so I went to sleep about 1930 to the sound of barking dogs, Paraguayan music, which seemed to be blasting out from each house, and the splutter of motorbikes with no exhaust pips. I awoke in the misty morning at 0500, to the sound of roosters a cocadoodleing and the starting up again of the music from the houses. By 0600 there were people everywhere. Yes things start early in Paraguay, maybe cos of the heat, or the short days, sunrise is at 0600, and sets around 1700.

I made my way to Encarnacion, and hoped on a bus to Asuncion, the capital. The bus stopped everywhere and more and more people were loaded on, in the end it was like a crowed London tube, with one guy not even able to stand up straight, given he was underneath where the television screen used to be, which was now used to store luggage. People just seemed to put up with it, and some were stood up for more than 4h. The bus was hot, but I was by a window I could open, so was not too bad when going along. I got to the capital in the dark and made my way by local bus to the Municipal camping, which is in the botanical gardens. It was a job to find, given that the bus labeled Botanical Gardens did not actually go past them!! Got there in the end, to be greeted by gun wielding guards and the roar of an elephant, given that it is also the zoo. They told me the camp site was just where they were, but there were so many ants that I could not camp there and had to set the tent up right next to their hut wall to escape them, real ferocious things they were, when I walked out on to the grass they ran up my trousers and I had to take them off to get rid of them!!!!

Opps time up here, so yeah, got the banana boat from Asuncion to here and am thinking of going to Cerro CorÓ national park tomorrow, then either back here for more river boating, or on to Brazil

Bye for now.

a now very tanned, Antonio

Some Paraguay observations

All prices are to be haggled, even things like long distance bus fares and even city bus fares.

Guns are the order of the day, and armed guards with machine guns watch over you in supermarkets and chemists and make sure you leave you bag at the door, and do some of these guys look MEAN. Walking over here there were four soldiers outside a bank, armed with M16 and some sort of short barreled pump action shotgun

The sun is strong, everyone wheres long selves and does not feel the need to remove there jumper and leather jacket when standing on the bus for 4 hours with 30 other people

People seem to speak more GuaranÝ than Spanish

The bank notes look like they have been photocopied at home, most are so old that they are stuck with about a ton of sellotape, and given there are a guzillion to the pound, dollar, euro, and most people have only ever seen 1000 and 5000 notes, you get about ten million of these in your change, sure fills up the pockets!!!
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