Monday, 12 November 2007

Asunción, Paraguay

Visiting Claudia's brother and family in Asunción

In Photo above, left to right, Alex, Pablo, Giuli, Me, Claudia

Photo: Our nephew, Lucas.

The 24 hour bus journey departed on time and it was actually fairly comfortable. Dinner, breakfast, lunch (albeit a bit basic) and movies were included in the price (USD$45). Compared to the Bolivian bus ride, this was going to be a VIP ride (he said to himself, with hopeful optimism.)

We were travelling thru the Chaco region in southern Bolivia and there were four police checkpoints throughout the night, before we even reached the Paraguayan border. There were two native South African women on board who were getting lots of grief as apparently there have been a lot of fake South African passports doing the rounds and they got the third degree at every checkpoint with Claudia acting as translator since they hadn’t a word of Spanish.

The a.c. on the bus was struggling to cope with the heat but at 2pm we reached the official border crossing which turned into a two and a half hour drawn out saga. Everybody and everything (literally every bag) came off the bus for inspection by the sniffer dog and then every bag had to be opened for a second inspection. It was a mere 49 Celcius and even the locals were suffering in the sweltering heat. The customs and immigration officials literally lived in the offices where we had to have our documentation verified, so you could see people sleeping as you got the official stamp in your passport. Claudia visited the ‘wee ladies room’ to powder her nose and this too, turned out to be the residence of the female contingent of customs officials. It was all a bit weird and you could only feel sorry for the poor mugs who had to work in this hell hole, day after day.

At about 8:30pm we arrived and were picked up by Claudia’s brother Pablo and his family. A quick shower, then pizza and a beer or two, capped off a very, very long day.

I got my first round of golf in South America the following day and played pretty bad, but it was an enjoyable experience. We played on a private course with way too much water for my liking (or my left hook and right slice shots at any rate) and had our own caddy who did his best to guide us thru the traps. The ladies went shopping (as ladies always do) as we were golfing and we regrouped later that evening to quickly change for a wedding that Claudia and I were going to sort of gate crash. As with all weddings in South America, this one went to the wee hours and was a lot of fun. As I write, we are just ‘chillin’ by the pool at the house and planning where to head next. Iguazu, the widest waterfalls in the world are looking tempting.


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