Meant to get up on 09 July to watch OZ vs SA at the rugby thing. Set my watch for 6am, when I thought it was on ESPN+. But, changed my mind at 6am, funnily enough. Found out later on that it actually ended at 6am – so good sleepyhead judgement. Anyway – eventually got up. Walked around town searching for my list of souvenirs I, at sometime, decided I would get from each country. Also, asking in every sportswear store for a Paraguay national team rugby shirt. Found an Adidas outlet store, with All Blacks stuff. Lots of All Blacks stuff. Posters of Lomu on the wall. Staff wearing All Blacks. Security, not part of uniform, wearing All Blacks scarves. Customers, wearing All Blacks jackets, looking at All Blacks jerseys. Later, in the update, I will flash my New Zealand badge around as much as possible in this shop, and buy an offical All Blacks jersey for NZ$55.
Walked towards shopping centre where shop assistant thought I might find Paraguay rugby jersey. Stopped for internet. Researched. Shopping centre is actually many many miles away. Paraguay rugby jersey made by a company called “Flash”, which as any computer nerd will know – makes it very difficult for internet searches. Back to central city. Very good steak to make up for my failure. Finally manage to follow through with my idea of getting a plain piece of paper/card laminated, and buying a whiteboard pen – to use as a very portable whiteboard. Ben knows how useful this is. Imagine language difficulties, both parties raise their eyes to the heavens wishing they could write or draw something… and BANG! Kruse produces a handy pocket-size whiteboard with appropriate marker. Situation solved. Later, in the update, I will have my invention stolen by a small child. Not happy about that part – because you can’t imagine how difficult it is to convince a shop-worker that all you want is a plain piece of white paper laminated.
But – at this point I’m happy. So, go back to my local Asuncion bar. Meet some Chileans & Argys. One Argy wearing a NZ Rugby shirt. End up going back to this chap’s apartment, as he works here – the rest of the crowd are visiting him. Lives 50 metres around the corner. Cervezas.
10 July – leave my residencial. Walk around town with full pack – and buy an official (and yes, I think it actually is official, although from an outlet store) All Blacks jersey for NZ$well – you already know. Back to my ‘local’. Guys I met up with last night turn up. After I missed my date with their local friends. One cerveza, then they leave, and I catch bus to long-distance bus terminal. Then catch bus to Pozo Colorado. Guide book describes it as a “small crossroads town”. I get there in the late evening, and first impression is “two large service stations”. But, have a quick cerveza to get my head right, and try to explore town. Find a shed selling food. Buy food. Kruse very hungry. Then cerveza, as an attempt to find out who works there and who doesn’t, and to ask where there is any accommodation in ‘town’. The answer is “here’s your cerveza, there is no accommodation in town”. Well, that was my understanding. But then, he followed up with something that sounded like he didn’t understand what I was saying. I thought hopefully. Finished cerveza (if there’s no place to stay, I might as well be drunk – I thought) – and then returned to service station. Seemed like a place where people wore uniforms, rather than a place with a dozen kids running around – and half of them seemingly running the joint, might give me better advice on where to stay. But the lady there agreed. Nowhere. No beds to hire in Pozo Colorado. Nada. Night time now. Not cool. And cold. So very very cold. News article on the telly entitled “FRIO EXTREMO EN PARAGUAY!” Frio means cold. I spend night in service station / truck stop. Sporadically sleeping, resting my head on the table using the bits of my scarf I can spare as a pillow. Chatting to drunken truck driver once when I wake up at 1am. I think he was trying to hint he could give me a ride. I had impression from guidebook that I had to get my Paraguay exit stamp in my passport here. And he had three empty (small) whiskey bottles on the table. And was swaying when he stood up. We chatted, and waved goodbye.
11 July – woke up several times more, until I woke up with many more customers in the truck stop. The TV breakfast shows are all about the newspaper headlines. People dying from the extreme cold. Polilce picking up homeless people, to take them to jail, to protect them from the cold. Good timing for me staying in a truck stop with no heating. But… survived. Went and asked a lawman about getting a migration exit stamp. He reckons I can get one at the border. My guide book reckons ‘nah’. And also reckons that if it is right, and the copper is just bullshitting me, it’s a very long and dodgy trip back to rectify the situation. Sweet.
Eventually paid my tab for spending about 14 hours in the service station. Could have lied about everything from previous night – due to new crew, but I’m a nice guy. I am. Went to wait for bus. At bus station. Bus station is a very old, very broken-down bus – with tarpaulin forming a verandah. Waited a long time. On the bus – played the smiling game with a small girl. Rather stricken by the strange blonde-haired man.
– side note. Have now been mistaken for russian, finnish, and german. Always, always for german in Paraguay. To the point where I had actually taken down a note in my mind that “alèman” must be another word for “country”. It was only this morning that I checked, and it means “german”. And, Nathan please note especially, as I am constantly terrified that you may grow an uncontrollable crush on me… all of these countries’ stereotypes have one thing in common, and it is not oranges.
But – am now in Filadelfia.
Half the population are german. Half native indian Guarani. Supposedly the hostility has died down between them, but I’m pretty sure I was hissed at by a group of Guaranis earlier. Luckily, have made friends with some of the older ones rather quickly. A bit of the old drinking will do that. Turns out that to get to Bolivia, there is no direct bus from here. Have to get a bus to some military town (some of you will know how well I get along with army types), at 5:30 am on Fridays or Mondays. So… Kruse, turning up to a military town at 6:30 in the morning, with very little sleep, in a country with a rather paranoid military – which were, until only recently, in entire control of the country. And on the border with their most recent war enemy. Good idea. Still, got to be done. And – not entirely sure if there is actually going to be a bus from this military town (named after a war hero, including General, and four names), to Bolivia or not. And when it rains, everything gets stuck. In Colonia del Sacramento, the young English bloke asked me if I’d got “off the beaten track” at all. I didn’t much like the hackneyed phrase, and especially didn’t like the fact that I had to say no. But, when I started telling him some of the anecdotes, his eyes opened in awe, and I wondered if perhaps I had. Or if he was just a young kid with a suitcase with wheels. And now, I reckon he’d probably think I was TRAVEL GOD. I, of course, know otherwise. When there’s an american accent on your bus here, you’re not too far off the tourist path.
Babbling. Anyway… hopefully will upload photos soon. Haven’t done so in a while, and I always get a little antsy about my camera when I haven’t backed up photos. However, may not be able to access internet for a while. Looking at map, and reading description – between here and Bolivia is rather hard terrain. In fact, the “toughest rally IN THE WORLD”. Or some such. And I’ll be catching a bus across it. A 1970’s Mercedes bus, most likely.