It was a long ride to get here, leaving Tucuman at 4:30pm and driving overnight. But we had downstairs seats and this makes all the difference. Big leather seats which recline nicely and we had loads of room to curl up and get some sleep. Sitting right behind us was a man who had been staying in our hostel and we had seen at breakfast this morning. Again we are reminded what a small world this is and what a consistent lot us travellers are – following many of the same trails.
The first stop was a town called Resistencia. It doesn’t look very far on the map at all but it was 775km away or almost 500 miles. The Proclaimers may have walked it but they didn’t have our heavy bags to lug there!
This was just the first stop. 5am we arrived and had to switch buses – luckily the one going the opposite way was already in and we took up identical seats downstairs and went straight back off to sleep for the next leg of the journey to Chlorinda – another 200 miles away. You can see why they do this at night!
Our plan had been to stay in Clorinda a night or two – see what was there and move on to Paraguay. But we arrived at a stop outside the town and the driver started shouting Paraguay, Paraguay!
So in that instant we made up our mind and got off the bus. Today we would go to Paraguay.
Two young lads from got off at the same time – Max & Dave from the Netherlands. OMG they were so young and had the talk of the completely green pretending to know it all so you couldn’t tell how much they didn’t know really!
But they were sweet lads and the four of us were all heading the same way so it made sense to share a taxi to the border.
The crossing was smooth enough – just a bit confusing as it isn’t really a tourist border crossing – more for locals working across borders and farm trucks taking things backwards and forwards. But there was incredibly, a tourist office here on the Paraguay side. We don’t think he gets many tourists though as he looked genuinely shocked to see us and could not have been more helpful in his limited capacity.
He pointed us to a bus into the Capital city of Asuncion and the 4 of us boarded it together.
We had no idea what to expect from Paraguay. There is nothing in the guide books, nothing on the internet and nothing much at all anyone can say about it. So that is why we went – and because we thought it had to be cheaper than Argentina!
The drive into the city revealed a mixed bag of sights. Some parts looked very modern with fancy buildings that would not have looked out of place in any modern city around the world. Other parts reminded us of Thailand or Indonesia by the style of the shops and apartments and general layout of things.
Still with Max & Dave for now they also had to find somewhere to stay and they joined us for a coffee in a restaurant and the 4 of us hit the wifi and all the room booking sites on the internet. Across the road was Black Cat Hostel and Jody & Dave popped over to have a look at it but the rooms were too pricy for us and the Dorms to pricy for them so it was back to good old fashioned leg work again.
Jody left Bryan & the bags and Max & Dave in the restaurant and set off for an area 2 km away where there were more hostels. Most of that area was residential and armed with just a simple map she made her way around the streets.
There was a lot of graffiti everywhere and it all looked very faded as if it was long passed it’s glory days. But there were some lovely old colonial style buildings scattered amongst the more concrete blocks.
As she walked up one street, an old man called out to her. She stopped and said hello and he rambled on and on – very friendly though and seemed genuinely surprised to see her on his street. Asking her loads of questions and rambling on in both Spanish and Guarani – the indigenous language here. Jody couldn’t resist getting a few sneaky snaps of him as he was so lovely and really amusing.
Eventually she had to play the “I don’t understand card’ – our fall back plan whenever we get caught up and need to get away. We still had nowhere to sleep tonight yet!
Well every hostel she tried she bumped into Max & Dave. There are obviously a limited number of hostels here and Air B&B hasn’t made it this far. We really didn’t want to end up in the same place as them so she walked all the way back to the town centre where Bryan was waiting, we crossed over the road and checked-in at Black Cat!
After all that!
Asuncion is a very old city for South America founded in 1537. It is one of the oldest colonial cities on the whole of the South American continent. But it feels tired and neglected. We read somewhere that it feels like everyone who ever cared about the city got up and left. And that feels pretty accurate.
Having said that, it has some really nice restaurants and some very swanky hotels. The people here do speak some English and are all really, really friendly.
Being the Capital it has the government buildings and the Presidential Palace – both very nice, well kept, smart buildings.
But sandwiched between them in an area that was once a park, is a shanty town.
Sprung up for displaced people and looking the government building right in the face, we wondered how the workers can walk passed them every day and not want to do something to help them.
Well Asuncion didn’t have much else to offer other than a train museum – the railway here was the oldest in the whole of South America but closed down a few years ago.
So having seen everything Asuncion had to offer, it was time to move on again.