From Paraguay to Uruguay
After we visited the waterfalls we went to Itaipu. That's Guarani for Big Water and is the second largest dam in the world. It generates all the electricity for Paraguay and even 20% of brasil. The building is huge and we were "lucky" that it rained that day, because the floodgate was open. We could see thousands of litres of water streaming out, according to our guide it was as much as 5 times the waterfalls of Iguazu.
At the same day we started our tour into Paraguay, towards Ascunsion. 350km ahead of us, it took us about 4 days.
The heat was unbearable. Riding the bike to get some wind in our faces on days hotter than the hottest day in Germany. At lunch we took Barbie-Drinks. Yes! Sojamilk with apple juice with a Barbie printed on its carton... it's really delicious.
We were also invited two times. First time from an old man, Asterio, who ownes a citrusfruit-plantage and gave us a lot mandarines. Some pictures we took of him and his home:
Second time we were invited by a family. At first we just wanted to camp on the gras in front of their house, later we were invited to camp behind the house in the garden. The whole family was really kind, the kids were happy and ran around (foreigner, a tent AND headlights!) and we had cold showers. We stayed till lunch, because they cooked Arroz con Pollo (rice with chicken) for us. Really tasty!
We arrived in the evening in Asuncion, but we crossed the "Bayern Wald" (forrest of bavaria) and rode "zum Thüringer" (to the thueringer, a place in germany). Paraguay seems to be full of germans. In the city we were looking for a pension, which was recommended by the Lonely Planet. Familiar, kind and with nice decoration. We stayed for two nights. The capital was not that spectacular, but the other guests in the hostel were. A mix of europeans and americans.
From Asuncion we drove by bus to Encarnacion, 400km south-east. During the bus ride a thunderstorm set up. When we arrived in Encarnacion, the streets were like rivers and the hotel we choose looked like taken from a Silent Hill game.
The next day we met some other German backpackers, which recommended a hostel in Posadas to us. Encarnacion and Posadas are seperated by a river and connected via a 2,5km long bridge. One side Paraguay, the other Argentinia. Crossing the bridge with bicycles is not allowed, but the border officials don't care, they were just keen about our plans.
Our routes split during the next day. I rode through Posadas and did the organizational work (bus, internet, check-out) while Martin visited the jesuit ruins of Trinidad. The bus to Concordia, a city at the uruguayan border, left in the evening. It was pitchblack when we arrived at 2am in the middle of the night.
Early in the morning we cycled to the border, nice sunny 15 kilometers with wind in our backs. The border follows a river, again. One side Concordia and on the other side Salto. We couldn't cross the border with our bikes, because it's a dam, so a security man drove us in a pick-up truck. In Salto we changed money, ate something, internet, bus, all the routine. A bit boring, yeah. An overnight-bus took us to Montevideo where we were looking for a hostel. Semana Santa, the holy week, easter holiday - all places were full. But we still found one hostel, the fourth and last got two free beds.
Montevideo... capital of Uruguay, ocean, many parks and monuments, colonial architecture. A city which invites us to ride our bikes through the tree avenues. The biggest attraction is the Mercado del Puerto. A huge market with maaaaany steak restaunrants. Just a bit expensive... In the center of the city, there is another huge street market, you could buy anything there, from old broken dolls to handmade jewerly. There we met another long distance biker, Trevor. See his blog at: mebobandsurly.wordpress.com Tomorrow we'll be biking together till Colonia del Sacramento.
Another idea also spung to life... instead of travelling from Buenos Aires via bus to Ushuaia, we could do a spanish course. We had the idea before, but it was planned for later, maybe in Bolivia. Who knows, maybe we make a detour to the north and go down to Ushuaia in spring...