- and other Paraguayan adventures
23.03.2006 40 °C
Oh yes, we made it. But it wasn't easy... The busride from Asunción in Paraguay to Santa Cruz in Bolivia, that is supposed to take 25 hours (mas o menos), turned out to be going on for over 3 days! And it was probably the most absurd and unlikely adventure of this trip, so far.
Let's take it from the beginning: the first night wasn't any worse than an ordinary night on an ordinary night bus. Though, we woke up the next morning being stuck in mud - and a lot of mud. We manage to get out of it with help from a tractor, several times, and this was going on over and over again the whole day. But at least we were moving forwards... In the afternoon we were all by a sudden in a caravan of 7 busses, of which the first ones had been travelling three days already - it didn't seem too promising!
We stopped for the night close to the only potable water available for miles and miles. Nobody could or wanted to answer any questions about what was going on, but there was no sign of moving on before the next day, so we just put up our tent on the road (the others had to sleep in the bus).
Next morning everybody seemed hopeful again. We started moving again, through the mud with help from the tractors. Today we were even allowed to drive on the "real" road, that is generally not used, because the owner of the road don't want to expose it to wear. It didn't help for long, though, because around noon we reached a river, 25 meters of running water, across the whole road... The busses didn't have a chance to cross whatsoever. Some people chose to stay by the busses, but we were 50 people that crossed the river (it was "only" waist-high in some places) with our luggage, and continued by foot. Just us, the savannah, the baking sun and 25 kg on the back.
After 2 terrible kilometers we reach a military base, where we got som rest and manage to get a lift with a military truck - but only 6 kilometers to the Bolivian border, since it would have been an official war declaration to cross the border with a military vehicle. There was nothing else to do but continue walking, on a dusty dry (?) road in the merciless afternoon sun. Nobody knew just how far, or where we were actually going, and things started to feel a bit too hopeless.
However, after 6 kilometers more we reached two houses, where we were able to by some food and drinks (though we didn't have any Bolivian money). There was no phone, but someone had went by motorcycle to the next village to get help. We spent the night around the campfire (actually, it was just a candlelight), chatting with the other passengers and drinking beer. Pretty nice, really.
Around 10 p.m. or so we suddenly heard the sound of an engine. A truck was coming to rescue us! After a bit of chaos and dealing about money, we were all standing on the back of the truck, under the sky full of stars... And this is how we spent all night: standing up, 50 people on a small pick-up truck, without sleeping anything (except for short moments, leaning our heads on a bag or on another passenger). After 8 horrible hours we reached Villamonte, the first larger village after the Bolivian border. The morning bus to Santa Cruz was filled up quickly by 50 muddy passengers - so we finally made it!!!
After this last spectacular adventure everything else we did in Paraguay seems... uninteresting, somehow. But we did spend 2 weeks there, and they were 2 good weeks, with trips to the Brazilian (?) rainforest, the Jesuit missions, and a 5-day boat trip up Rio Paraguay on a cargo boat, full of bananas, bags of flour and little ladies. It might have been the first country in South America where we actually got to know the locals, much thanks to the fact that there aren't any tourists there, which makes the people much more open and friendly to gringos. It felt more real, unaffected and authentic than any other country we've been to so far. And the sunsets over Rio Paraguay might have been some of the most beautiful ones I've ever seen...
Didn't manage to insert pictures this time, but check my photo album if you want to!
Love to all