Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Farm

The last month has been really tough for our stomachs; however, we’ve managed to travel to Asuncion Paraguay with a short one week stopover in Uruguay. The capital of Uruguay, Montevideo is all about the beaches and getting a nice sun tan, but as you might know by now, we don’t do sun tanning and fancy cocktails so we kept our visit short and went with bus to Paraguay.

The first thing that struck us when we came to Paraguay, besides the intense heat, was the lack of tourists. According to Lonely Planet, Paraguay is one of the least visited countries in South America and tourists only come here to get cheap flights to other destinations. One reason could be that The Lonely Planet has almost completely ignored Paraguay in their book, which is probably enough to keep visitors away, leaving the whole country for ourselves to discover.

In the evening a few days ago we were standing in the harbor ready to take the cargo (read drug) ship to Conception, a sleepy city 450 kilometers north east of Asuncion. Prior to departure we asked the captain if we could take the boat back when it returned for Asuncion but he said that it was not possible with the explanation that it would be so fully loaded so they couldn’t take on any more weight. Another explanation was that they are smuggling cocaine from Bolivia and therefore don’t want any passenger snooping around – don’t know which one’s correct.

At eight a clock we sat sail. After one hour or so a strange vessel without lanterns approached us and docked to our starboard side and they started to transfer diesel onto the boat. For half an hour a handful of sailors were standing around the big tank - every one of them was smoking! Luckily we survived and could continue our journey into the night.

The whole second day passed with beautiful sceneries and fascinating locals along the riverside. The day ended with a nice sunset and starlit sky. We were expected to be in Concepción in the afternoon the following day so went to bed late, looking forward to a nice sleep-in.

Six o’ clock in the morning they woke us up and told us we had arrived. We packed our stuff and headed into town. After a steady breakfast we called Peter: a German guy who lives on a farm some 15km north of the city offering food and lodging for backpacker at reasonable prices. When we finally came to the farm we immediately swapped into bathing trunks and chucked the boat onto the truck. Loaded with beer, floating devices and a revolver we went to the river. We spent the rest of the afternoon laying in our tubes drinking beer. Floating 7km/h downstream amongst stingrays, crocodiles and piranhas, we spotted monkeys, anacondas and other interesting wildlife.

The second day Peter’s eleven years old son Nester and we went with the machete towards the local horseman. After half an hour of struggling to catch and saddle the wild horses, we got a one minute lesson in how to ride and then they let us off alone. In the beginning everything went fine, but after half an hour Dennis’ horse started to act strangely and took off in raging speed, fully determined not to stop at any command. I had no other choice than trying to hold on as long as I could. This didn’t work very well, the “saddle” got loose and I fell head first towards the ground. With a minor concussion we manage bring both our self and the horses safely back home. Thrilled and exhausted after our first horseback riding experience we took the rest of the day off.

The next two days we spend more calmly with some easy workouts and cool beverages. To get back to Asunción safely we took the bus!

/Chris & DJ

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