Saturday, December 11, 2010

Gears 2, 4 and window glass need not apply

Today was a simple task: travel on abus from Puerto Iguazu to Asuncion. We got to the bus station with plenty of time, let them know we were there and enquired 'will the bus wait for us to get our passports stamped?' A strange look came over the tellers face -'hold on', rapid phonecall in frantic spanish = 'a car will come and get you, the border is very busy today and the bus will not wait'. OK. The car came, we got to the Argentine border, que, stamp, continue. Over the bridge, que some more, stamp - brazilian border. Pull up at the Brazilian bus station, driver points at the empty booth for his bus company and disappears.
We ascertain that the booth will be manned from 3pm post siesta, about 45 mins time. 3.15pm (not bad) man with no english appears - I convey the issue and task left to complete, he understands, more frantic spanish phone calls - 'follow me' grab bags, bundle (with him) into a taxi, head to??? -Ah Brazilian exit border. Exit taxi, power walk in 40 degrees with all luggage across the traffic lanes (who don't stop) to the border, stamp = out of brazil. Our friend jumps on a bus, we follow, standing with the huge bags of domestic traffic waiting to be filled with cheap electricals duty free in Paraguay - huge stocking density and virtually not moving for half an hour over the bridge.

Get off the bus, cross back over the steadily moving (still not stopping) traffic lanes laden with bags at high speed to the Paraguay border -strict rule here - Jolly foreigner will wait, all locals will be given priority! Eventually our friend appears and things speed up - stamp = into Paraguay. Back across the road, into moving taxi??? (decided a policy of throwing my bag in and jumping in behind it swiftly followed by Lukes bag and then him was best).

This taxi was unreal -safe to say it would've been scrapped on UK roads back in the late 80's. The area we are now in is crazy - proper South America. This city is billed as the duty free electrical goods capital of south america and is crammed full of taxi bikes, buses, children, rubbish, stalls, beeping horns and smoggy traffic.

We finally get to the bus station and our friend leaves us propped up against boxes of chicken sweating in the sun, bags of sugar and flasks stacked up waiting to be shipped on a bus. He assures us not long and disappears - 'our hope of reaching Asuncion with him' I'm beginning to wonder? But no, a bus arrives and we climb aboard reaching Asuncion just shy of 1.5hrs later than we first thought - not bad considering.

The night was topped off by our taxi ride from the bus station to the hotel - our taxi (well, it's probably quicker tpo mention what it DID have) found gears 1,3 and 5 unnecceassary, equally un necessary are glass in the windows, door handles, window switches, door liners, boot liner, outside door handle, hand brake - two gears and brakes were fine by me by that point - a little glass to keep the street kids out would've been nice but that's probably me being a hoity toity western woman!

So now, goodnight after one of the most taxing journeys I 've ever made.

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