Whoever saw the waterfalls was satisfied, but the rest – tough luck. Now we are leaving for Paraguay on Christmas so we put our backpacks festively and catch the almost empty bus to the Brazilian border. After 20 minutes of driving through the empty streets of Foz do Iguaçu, our bus left us on the shore of Paraná River. This was the Brazilian border, we went through customs in no time and set off on the Friendship Bridge on foot.
After about an hour walk on the bridge, our brows sweaty, the shirts sticking to our backs, passports in our hands, we said “Hola” to the Paraguayan customs official. His colleague asked us if we were from Italy and once we settled our place of birth, we had cool red stamps in our passports, it was Christmas after all. On this occasion, it wasn’t sure if there was a bus to take us from the border to the bus station at Ciudad del Este. Luckily, a guy drove us in his car for the corresponding amount of guaraní. Later we read that we had walked the streets of the most dangerous city in Paraguay. Somebody who’s never been there must’ve overrated it again.
The Christmas spirit is in full swing at the bus station. There is nobody to bother you, only one conductor is shouting “Asunción, Asunción!”. We told him we were going to Encarnación. “Err…please, wait there, there is a bus at 10:00”
We waited almost an hour and the bus came. It wasn’t older than 50 years, but the strained sound of its engine spoke of its experience.
We got on and it was about to leave any minute, any minute now…it left at 10:35. So far, so good – we had 280 km journey ahead of us so we decided to take a nap, eat some Paraguayan cookies and hopefully, we might effortlessly arrive. It was a good plan, but no. The bus was taking it easy, it was made apparent by its experience. It wanted to welcome us and take us on a leisurely tour through Paraguay so we could take a good look at whatever we see on the way.
Don’t you worry if you don’t have clean underwear or socks. On the way we stop and take on all kinds of sellers, everybody who needs anything buys it, they step out and we go on our way. No pressure, we combine slowly-slowly with mañana-mañana.
It is not polite to force people to go to the bus station to get the bus, so they stand on the side of the road of their choosing and we just pick them up. No more than 10 minutes have passed, there is a family waiting, we stop, and we take them. There is an auntie who wants to go to Encarnación, can we pick her up from her garden, is it a problem? Is anyone hungry? Immediately we pick up a Paraguayan woman with a basket full of warm bread with chipo cheese, she serves everybody, gets off and we go on slowly, bit by bit, first, second, third and we leave.
We stop for more people, poor souls have to get onboard. But it is no rush, it is only midday. While we are here, if anyone wants a beer, they can just hand money out the window and all is settled. Party on the road. Our surroundings are turning more beautiful – greenery, forests, fields, small villages. A lot of pretty views. We contemplate them while passing slowly.
So far it is lovely. Only 3-4 hour drive and we have covered about half the distance. Maybe we should take a nap…
Picking people and dropping them off at places most convenient for them continued for several hours until the grand moment came – we arrived at the station in Encarnación. Well-boiled in our own sauce we picked up our packsaddles and rushed to the hotel in hopes that we’ll see some beauty or at least a shower and forget about those pleasant 7 hours.
This article was brought to you in English by Marta Petrova.
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