Out of Iguazu with a bang; on to Ciudad del Este

Trip Start Jun 15, 2009
Trip End Jun 14, 2010

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Flag of Paraguay  , Alto Paraná,
Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Our last night in Puerto Iguaz˙ was spent at the local free festival, being held on the Costanero (coast road). Posters had suggested a 9pm start but it was nowhere near at gone 10 when we arrived. In other ways it was similar to the Chapel Allerton Festival; one end of the road was blocked by a stage where a couple of bands played during the evening. The street was crowded with a mixture of family groups and the usual gaggles of noisy teenagers. Through the crowd pushed the sellers of candyfloss and novelties that light up in the dark.  All the way down the road were stalls selling food and drink, mostly set up by local support groups, including Hogar de Ancianos (the home for the ancients) and schools. Just before we left, there had been some fuss at the school where Tony was chair of governors about whether they should allow alcohol at school events, so it was interesting to see these stalls happily serving litre glasses of beer! The evening came to an end about 1am with a big firework display which we watched from the top of the hill.

We were so close to the three frontiers that we were sure that it would be a good idea to pass from Argentine, through Brasil and into Paraguay for the next stage of our journey. (We had toyed with the idea of blogging from Foz do Iguazu, Brasil and hence getting Travelpod to colour the whole of Brasil green but it seemed a bit of a cheat!) Our intention was to go Encarnaciˇn in the south of Paraguay to visit the nearby ruins of some Jesuit missions. In fact, Encarnaciˇn is only just over the border from the Argentine town of Posadas and everyone we spoke to said that it would be much easier to go there and then take a local bus into Paraguay. But we had a plan...

Frequent local bus leave Puerto Iguaz˙ for Cuidad del Este in Paraguay so we boarded one of these. Unfortunately we had not reckoned on so many local people also using the bus, each complete with their own assorted packages. There were far more people than seats when we left the terminal so we were standing. The situation quickly got considerably worse as we collected more and more passengers along the way and we were crushed into a tiny space. Still we were content that it would be a short(ish) journey and we could manage. The Argentine immigration was straightforward and, as we had done yesterday, the bus sailed straight through the Brasilian checkpoint so we now only had the Paraguyan formalities to deal with.

The bus was extremely old, battered and noisy, the very heavy load slowed progress to a crawl and the sun was extremely hot, so we were not full of the joys of spring when we hit a massive traffic jam to get onto the bridge into Paraguay. The authorities have contrived to bring at least eight dense lanes of traffic from the different approach roads into a single lane producing a stationary tailback of several kilometers. It took over an hour to get onto and over the bridge and we felt both relef and panic when there was no sign of a checkpoint into Paraguay. So we are currently in Paraguay as illegal visitors; we’ll report in a few days on how well we do when we try to get out!
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