Illegal Immigrants

Trip Start Jul 06, 2005
Trip End Mar 10, 2006

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Where I stayed
The Millhouse

Flag of Paraguay  ,
Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Hello hello, just a quick one to keep things rolling after being so freaking lazy in BA. I am now officially down with illegal immigration, and can now and forever say I have SNUCK INTO a small Latin American country. This corner of South America is known as pretty much one of the dodgiest on the continent due to Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay all essentially sharing a border where two rivers meet. This proximity and also being near to the jungle means LOTS of pirated and illegal goods, drugs, and money are run over this border. On top of this, its really about as close to an open border as I´ve ever seen and apparently a lot of the money goes to support terrorist groups and drug running. Wicked.

The Great Border Run - Ciudad del Este, Paraguay

We don´t have a visa for Paraguay and weren´t about to pay $45 US for one, so we headed to the Paraguayan consulate as we´d heard you could get in with a special one day visa for free, just to blow your money in the mad street markets. No - a nice, straight forward "no way in hell" was the answer. Fine, guess we´ll just wander down to the border anyway and check out our options, you know, see what we can see. The border is a massive bridge over the river and on arrival we saw a crazy stream of people going both ways on foot with huge bags of stuff, and absolutely chaotic traffic on the road. How were they going to stop us?!?

So, of course, we just dove in with the stream and strolled on into Paraguay! Spent a day shopping, and wandered non-chalantly back into Brazil afterwards with a bag full of pirated DVDs and clothes. The market itself is just nuts with hoards of people trying to sell you everything from DVDs to socks to perfume to jewelry, cameras, clothes, toasters and phones. Seriously anything you want, either stolen, pirated, or real and at least tax free. Insanity...the energy of the place definitely felt like a dive back into "real" South America after Argentina and a taste of Brazil.

Anyway, back we came and as we tried to look cool passing the border guards, we did notice another guy being searched to the side and they were stopping motorbikes and cars, but not a glance at us. Risks were high enough, possibility of being detained in Paraguay, or of being denied access back to Brazil and my visa cancelled, but the percentage likelihood of being caught, virtually nil.

There ya go, add that to trekking with paramilitaries and riding crazy buggies into guerilla territory in Colombia, hitchhiking 2500 kilometres and sleeping in abandoned gas stations, walking the train tracks to Machu Picchu, cliff hanging hikes in Ecuador, breaking into clubs that refuse to let us in, and any number of other stunts we´ve pulled and I´m sure my parents are THRILLED with how careful we´ve been!

Random BsAs Memories

1) Had made a bet with some girls that whoever got the more expensive taxi to the club had to strip a layer of clothes - guys pants, girls tops. Alan owns no underwear in South America. Alan had to borrow my boxers in case he had to strip. Alan can keep, my boxers. No really, its fine. (We won, girls refused to honour the agreement).

2) Penguin Love reaches new heights with various public lovings and sneak attacks on unsuspecting friends. ***Penguin love basically involves doing your best penguin impersonation while making amorous advances on someone nearby, hopefully pinning them somewhere and making them horribly uncomfortable. There is no known defense.

3) Getting into a club called Bahrain by telling them we know "Jose" and thinking it all very clever and funny. Later we find out Jose really works there, and the Argentinean girls we met ACTUALLY do get in for free because they know him.

4) Showing up regularly for free breakfast at the Millhouse, a hostel I only stayed in for two days. Place is so big they don´t know who´s coming or going.

5) Getting an apartment with a free phone so I could actually talk to my family a lot...sooooo nice!

There´s LOTS more but thought I´d toss these somewhere before I forget them. Thanks for all the replies, even the short ones let me know you´re out there ;-). Hasta la proxima,

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