We caught an over night bus from Foz to Asuncion, Paraguay. This was the most comfortable bus we have taken so far and sadly it was only a 6 hour bus ride! We slept the whole way and just wished it was a longer bus journey to enjoy the comfy big seats, pillow and blankets! We got to Asuncion at 6am. We called our CouchSurfing host Liz as she had asked us to give her a call when we arrived so she could wake up to let us into her place. We met Liz very briefly when we first got to her place as it was 6am and we were all still a little out of it. We all crashed! Liz went off to work and we slept a few more hours before going out to explore the city of Asuncion, Paraguay.
Asunción is one of the oldest cities in South America and the longest continually inhabited area in the Rio de la Plata Basin and this is why it is known as the "Mother of Cities". It was from here that the colonial expeditions departed to found other cities, including the second foundation of Buenos Aires and of other important cities such as Villarrica, Corrientes, Santa Fe and Santa Cruz de la Sierra.
Liz kindly left us a list of places to visit in the city, so I planned a walking tour. As you know I love to walk and Dean loves taxis! However, somehow on this world tour I have converted Dean into more of a walker than a taxi boy! Another great walking tour planned by Fudgie.
After a whole day of walking the city we went back to Liz’s place and met Liam, another couchsurfer who was staying at her place as well. Liz took us all out and we also met up with some other hosts and surfers. We had a fantastic night out! We chatted til all hours and got to know Liz, Liam, a French couple, Marie and Matt (they were couch surfing as well with a guy from Madrid who had just moved to Asuncion) and a few other hosts in Asuncion. We really enjoyed meeting more amazing people with such great stories! Liam is traveling around the world climbing the three highest peaks in each continent and had so many great stories to share! Good luck with the travels and climbing Liam. Liz sure knows how to have a good time and is such a perfect host! Thanks for taking us out Liz and hosting us, you are so great, we miss you!
We agreed to meet Marie and Matt the following day to go to Paraguarí for a day trip.
The following day we headed to Paraguarí with Marie and Matt by bus. A very cheap and packed local bus that was suppose to take about 40 minutes… more like nearly two hours! South American’s sure are not like the Swiss when it comes to timing and distances! (more like Deano…10 mins is 30 mins) Haha!
Thanks to Dean we met Domingo and had a fantastic day touring around the small town of Paraguarí. Dean went into the internet café in this small ghost town and asked if anyone “hablas ingles?” The one and only person who spoke English in this town happened to be in the internet café.
Domingo offered to show us around for free! As a skeptic and not believing that anyone would do anything for free, I was a little wary to begin with… in the end we decided they’re four of us and would tour around with Domingo. He turned out to be such a genuine, nice guy wanting to practice his English and show us around his town. We saw the main sites, churches, school, old and first train station in South America. There happened to be a lady leading the restoration work at the old train station who spoke French, so Matt, Marie and I spoke to her in French – she loved it! She was South American from Paraguay, but had been married to a French guy and lived in Paris for over 10 years! We ended our tour climbing a hill for a great view of the town.
Thanks so much Domingo, Marie and Matt for such a fun day!
Our third day in Paraguay was spent in an even smaller town just outside Asuncion called Aregua. We took a bus to this town with our host Liz and the French couple, Marie and Matt. It was SO hot the whole time we were in Paraguay and especially here as there seemed to be no shade! We had a fantastic long lunch (the food was top notch), walked around the town and ended the day by the lake.
Thanks SO MUCH Liz for being such an awesome host. You are welcome to surf our couch anytime! Our time in Asuncion and Paraguay thus far has been amazing thanks to you!
We left Asuncion later that night for Encarnacion - this turned out to be on the world’s coldest overnight bus!
We got into Encarnacion at about 5:30am. We waited for our CS host Jazmin to pick us up from the bus station around 7:30am. We went back to Jazmin’s house, had a shower, did some laundry and we were spoilt with a laptop and computer to use for checking our emails. We enjoyed 2 days in Encarnacion checking out the city. It was SO HOT, 45c! We had to keep going into shops to cool off in the aircon! It was that hot that we could feel the heat from the ground through our flip flops!
It was interesting to learn all about the history of the city as it had once been in one area and then the government built a dam and flooded the old city. The people in the old part of town were given money for their houses and made to move. So now there is a man made beach and water front where the old city use to be. It is actually quite tasteful what they have done around the waterfront and no doubt the power / energy generated by the dam will be beneficial to the community of Encarnacion!
Thanks Jazmin for hosting us and it was also lovely to meet your daughter Costanzia. Dean loved the fact that she called him Senor!
Trinidad, Jesuit Settlements
Before leaving Encarnacion we took a local bus out to Trinidad to visit the Jesuit settlements, a world UNESCO heritage site. This is the least visited UNESCO site in the world and we can confirm that as we were the ONLY ones there!
A little adventure on the way out there…
We were on a small local bus. It was packed so we stood at the back of the bus. It then emptied out part way through the journey, so we sat down. There are no specific bus stops so when we got close to Trinidad and the Jesuit Settlements we got up and made our way to the front of the bus.
Dean stood facing side ways and I stood facing the front of the bus. A guy was trying to push past me to get off the bus and Dean tried to explain to him that we were getting off as well. We got off the bus. Dean, the squinter, went to get his glasses out of his shorts pocket near his knee and realized his wallet was gone! He realized after no more that 5 seconds of being off the bus!
I have never seen Dean run so fast! He chased after the bus and luckily as there are no specific bus stops in South America, just like in Asia, a lady happened to be getting on the bus 50 meters away! Not only that, but there were 2 cops with a radar where the lady was getting on the bus. Dean had caught up to the bus and got on explaining that he had lost his wallet. The ticket guy and ladies on the bus all helped to look for it. Dean first looked at the front of the bus where we were standing before getting off.. no luck and then went to the back.. no luck there either. As he went back to the front to get off the bus, he checked again where we stood before getting off and there on the ground at a guy’s feet was the wallet!
The guy that Dean thought bumped him while we were on the bus must have taken it out and then seen the cops and with Dean being back on the bus felt guilty and dropped it? Who knows what exactly happened, however, Dean retrieved the wallet with all the money (only USD 25), bank debit card and more importantly our fake ISIC student cards (those things have been saving us loads around the world)! Who gets robbed and gets all their goods back!?!?! What luck!
We were SO careful in Brazil and everywhere else we have been so far. We let our guard down in the most benign environment and look what happened! Just SOOOOO lucky!!!
Anyway, after the whole wallet saga we were in shock for some time and just could not get over it!
We enjoyed the Jesuit settlements of Trinidad and Jesus very much and were the only visitors at this wonderful and remote UNESCO site.
We headed back to Encarnacion and caught an over night bus to Rosario, Argentina.
Stay tuned for our Argentina update to follow soon.
Lots of love to you all…D&D xoxo