May 13, 2010
One Day in Paraguay
As I reluctantly leave Brazil for Paraguay, according to my guidebook, the most corrupt nation this side of Africa, it is foggy, but looks to be a warm sunny day. Yesterday and today I am riding through more forest and less field. There is always something to look at and photograph. The forest is, according to my guidebook, 'sub tropical', hardwood, with the odd banana tree, there is a lumber industry here, and I see the first wooden houses since leaving the US.
Portuguese still has its challenges, which little door would you choose?
Plan Alta, where I stayed overnight in a 20 Real Hotel (~12 bux) is only about 170 km from the Paraguay border at Foz du Iguacu. I was a bit nervous about Paraguay, given its reputation. The border is a large river, Rio Paraguay natch, which flows into the Rio Plata and the ocean. I have to check out of Brazil, get my exit stamp on my passport and hand over my temporary import certificate for the moto. This is all pretty much up to me, as there are no barriers, one can drive right on through. You would be in deep trouble if you did this, as the cops will want to see your documentos once you are in. Same thing on the Paraguay side, turistos must find the proper place to get documentos in order on their own.
This is a very busy border. The motos in the picture that are carrying passengers are moto taxis ferrying pedestrians across the very long bridge. There is a special moto path that runs alongside the grid locked cars, and these moto guys move. The path is narrow, and has chicanes with cement barriers that will knock your givis off, presumably to slow down the kamikaze moto-taxi pilots. I was holding up the parade, banging my bags on the curbs, and hearing angry moto beeps behind me, but every so often I could pull over into stalled four wheeler traffic, catch my breath, and let about 100 moto taxis zip by before getting back in the moto lane.
I have to find migracion for my passport stamp and aduana for my moto tramite. A young cop is standing where I park, he admires the KTM, he tells me he will watch it for me while I complete my paperwork. It takes about 20 minutes, and sure enough the cop is standing beside my bike when I get back. He is interested in my trip and we chat a bit.
I am now officially in Paraguay and headed for Asuncion, 300 km west. I have swapped my 180 Brazilian Reals for 450,000 Guaranis(!!!) . A Guarani goes for about 5,000 to the dollar, so 450K is about 90 dollars.
Paraguay has 'check stops' cops are stationed at certain spots and randomly select people to pull over and check. My number comes up and get pulled over. The cop sees that my papers in order, asks me a few questions about the bike (I think he wanted to know how big the gas tank was, anyway that was the answer I gave), and wished me buen viaje. A little farther on I stop for a pee break and pull in to park, a sharp police whistle tells me I just went the wrong way down a one way street. The cop comes over to give me hell until he realizes that I am not from around here, right away he transforms from pissed off to friendly and wants to know where I am from, where I am going, etc. etc., he is interested, not being official. So much for corrupt cops. Everywhere I go in Paraguay I am made to feel welcome. I will only be here for a short time, but it looks to be a good time.