First Impressions of Paraguy and Asuncion
Firstly I am on a strange Spanish keyboard and I am not entirely sure how to access some of the keys and so excuse me if there are some wobblies, the spelling mistakes are just my poor English!
We arrived this afternoon after an almost tearful goodbye from Laura this morning. We got a taxi in the end over the border to Ciudad del Este in Paraguay as Laura told us that the bus went at 10 this morning but instead it went at 8 and the next was at 2. Oops! We had this adorable friend of Laura’s who is a taxi driver that took us over the border and waited for us at the two passport controls that we had to cross and even took us and helped us get our bus tickets once in Paraguay and changed money, probably on the black market, but he assured us that it was a good rate!
We arrived in the bus station and asked for the bus to Asuncion and we were ushered, as though the bus was about to leave that they wanted us to get on, we noticed that the darned thing was just pulling in. Now we thought that the last journey was bad on the 15-hour job. This bus though MUST have stopped every 5 mins for some local or other to get on and try and sell us random things. It stank to high heaven and the loo was very unsightly, unfortunately I was only told that after drinking a can of coke and so I was crossing my legs the whole way and concentrating on my book which I managed to read 350 pages of. (All those that were at school with me, Mrs Footman would have been impressed! I just wouldn’t have told her what it was, nothing sinister, just the most recent Rosamunde Pilcher)
Arriving here I got the distinct feeling that I was actually in Romania, which I rather liked! It brought back fond memories of the many train stations that I had visited whilst I was there back in 1998! People trying to sell you the most useless things and having taxis shoved in your faces. We got a taxi and I nearly died. The car, if you can call it that, was more of a rust bucket than the blue ford that I used to have and it went much slower and louder and really felt like it was going to fall apart every time that we went over a bump.
Chloe and I booked into a hotel which, thank the Lord, has a hot tap, we were so ecstatic we almost cracked open the champagne and I can’t tell you how much I am looking forward to either a bath or a hot shower tonight. (Chaco Hotel, tel 492066, Caballero 285, Asuncion, Paraguay) Ed is staying in a hotel around the corner, as he was not fussed about paying loads more for a hot shower and so on. He doesn’t seem to have any electricity in his place, which is rather unfortunate. (Hotel Miami, tel 444950, Mexico 449, Asuncion, Paraguay) Chlo is not feeling great, the cold is really getting to her, Ed and I are walking around in sweatshirts so its not that bad, but she does feel it more than I do.
We had a little meander earlier and walked past a few shops and saw a few sights, many of the buildings here look like Hanul Manuk (not all of you will have seen it as it is another Romanian link), the old horse stables just off Unirii. Very comforting. There are the familiar street sellers selling absolute tat and the little boxes where you can buy cigarettes, I noticed that there are many brands that are similar to ones found in Romania, which made me smile again! You really would not have thought that this place was a capital city though as it is so calm and placid to say, Rio or any of the other places that we visited. (We saw such places as the Palacio de Gobierno, which is the Presidential Palace and was intended as a residence for Francisco Solano Lopez who died in the war of the Triple Alliance. It is now safe to approach it to take photographs, as prior to the ousting of Stroessner it was once ordered that ‘every person observed gazing at the front of his palace should be shot in the act.’ On talking to Antonio the following evening I was told that he had been thrown in jail back in 1976 as he was caught with another visitor taking a photo of the palace. It seems a bit mad to me but there we go! Next to it is an old Navy ship that is floating on the Rio Paraguay, which we went and had a look round for something to do. (It was here that Ed took his “I’m the King of the World “ photograph!) We saw the Palacio Legislativo, which was begun in 1844 and completed in 1857, and it is home to both houses of the legislature. Next to that is the Catedral Metropolitana, which was built in 1845, and it is the Roman Catholic Cathedral. The Panteon de los Heroes is a public Mausoleum for the country’s greatest military figures and is guarded by a somber honour guard. The main remains in there that are guarded are those of Carlos Antonio Lopez and his son, amongst others.)
The prices are much cheaper here than in Brazil and it is pretty cheap for us there, so you can imagine we are in heaven here price wise. The language cross is a small problem as I have only just got used to my limited knowledge of Portuguese (they speak Spanish here!) and the money change from sensible to absurd amounts is quite tricky too! Electrical goods and so on are well cheap and Chlo and I are really tempted to send back a case full of them and make a huge profit!
Well my 20 mins is up, Ed is on next, it is quite expensive to use it in the hotel but we all want to keep in touch with everyone! Hence my typos are probably quite frequent. (They have been edited out!) I am not watching the screen, impressive hey!
Loads of love to one and all,