18. – 24. Jan 2019
When taking the bus from Puerta Iguazú to Ciudad del Este, make sure that you tell the driver to stop at the border control. Otherwise, you’ll be illegally in the country. Having jumped out of the bus, he left and we were stuck at the craziest, busiest border ever: people roaming around everywhere, carrying goods and bags, merchants selling their stuff, shopping malls on each corner of the street.
Finally having arrived at the terminal, we took another bus to Trinidad, one of several German settlements in Paraguay. Here, we stayed at Posada Maria – a hotel owned by a German immigrant offering clean, air-conditioned rooms and a nice breakfast for a fair price. The next day, we visited the ruins of Jesus and Trinidad – the remains of the former Jesuit ministries and a great witness of history for Paraguay. Thus, we even got a guided lightshow at night (8:30pm each day when it’s not raining / in Spanish) with lots of historical background information and the feeling to be set right back in time.
Our next stop was not the National Park San Rafael as originally planned (the only lodge there had been booked out for another week – thus, make a reservation well in advance if you want to go) but Encarnación – “La Perla del Sur”. Being considered as the most beautiful city in Paraguay, it is a hotspot for weekend getaways and holiday trips. Thus, the beach at the river looked like one on Mallorca during high season. In the evening, there was a free concert on a huge stage at the beach featuring famous Paraguayan bands and singers. It was an amazing party and people stayed at the beach drinking, chatting, and chilling until late at night BECAUSE there was another great thing happening a few hours later – the total eclipse of the moon, also called “Blood Moon”. The next day was spent in a chill out mood crossing the border to Argentina once again for a daytrip to Posada and a relaxed evening at the beach with other travelers.
The beach in the evening Concert on stage Breakfast after an (amost) sleepless night
Soon it was time to make our way to Asunción (a 7 hour bus ride), the capital city of Paraguay. And it was… Well, let’s put it this way: pretty disappointing. The infrastructure is bad (very shabby buses run sometimes, but it’s not defined where and when exactly), many houses are just little huts or half-destroyed buildings, and there is trash on the streets everywhere. One just doesn’t feel safe and sound when walking the streets. There are a few sights such as the Palace of Independence, the Panteón, and the district of San Jeronimo with a handful colorful stairs and houses. Nevertheless, these are not worth going there. BUT the people are! They are very nice yelling “Hola” across the street, sharing their Tereré (icecold Mate) and their grapes with you, and just being friendly and welcoming – also in our hostel La Casita de la Abuela. A very great new friend and help was César who showed us around, took us to a place to try chipa (a traditional dish), and dropped us at the bus terminal the next day. Muchas gracias, amigo! 🙂
Drinking Tereré with César The colorful stairs
Now, the very tricky part began: How to get to Argentina? After having asked everybody around us, we decided to just take some bus to the border and then go on. Having arrived there, we got another Argentinean immigration stamp and took a bus to the terminal in Clorinda where we were very lucky to just get on the ONLY bus leaving for Salta on that day right 3 minutes before departure. And then, the 18 hour bus ride began…