This Blog post is a little different than my usual posts. We spent a total of two days only in Paraguay, therefore, I didn’t feel that I could write a guide to the country based on our short time there. However, I did want to share one of my favourite travel stories about how we ended up taking an epic bus journey out of Bolivia and in to Paraguay!
When travelling, it is safe to say that things don’t always go as planned, and you should expect the unexpected. This was definitely the case with Paraguay! The count down was on to get to Rio in time for Carnival, and we had decided that the best way to get there was to take a 22 hour bus journey from Bolivia, stopping off at Iguazu falls en route. You know what they say about the best laid plans…
So we left Santa Cruz in Bolivia, nervous and slightly worried about the 22 hour bus journey ahead. The bus we were travelling on was cramped, hot, and nothing like the luxury buses we had become accustomed to on our Peruvian night buses! We hadn’t come across any other travellers along the way who had been to Paraguay, as most people tend to head straight to Chile from Bolivia.
So we set off, settling in for the long journey ahead. After about 8 hours on the road and somewhere in the South of Bolivia, our bus broke down! Thus ensued a 10 hour wait by the side of the road, waiting for our driver to make contact with the bus station we had just left, and waiting for our replacement bus to arrive. Not a problem, these things happen. Only in Bolivia eh? Onwards we go!
We set off again, settling in and attempting to get some sleep. We had crossed the border and were now in Paraguay! If you’ve ever made the crossing overland from Bolivia to Paraguay, you’ll know that the journey consists of 100km of unpaved, muddy road in the middle of “no-man’s land”, completely barren as far as the eye can see! The road is mainly used by truck drivers transporting cargo across the border. For the second time on the journey, our bus came to a halt. A truck had slipped in the mud and blocked the entire road ahead. We were now 26 hours into the journey, and our bus snacks of m&m’s and mars bars were no longer cutting it! We were also the only tourists onboard, and attempted to use our limited spanish to converse with the driver and understand what the next plan of action would be. It quickly became apparent that we were to spend yet another night sleeping on the bus at the side of the road when a few of the passengers started making a fire in the middle of the road right in front of the bus to keep warm…
We were woken up at 6am by the bus driver shouting “VAMOS CHICOS!” in order to gather the men onboard to go out and physically push the huge truck blocking the road. Thus ensued the most infuriating episode of ‘let’s all stand around and stare at the truck and hope it moves!’ ever! My patience was running very thin at this point, and when I was again met by confused looks when attempting to communicate with the bus driver, I decided enough’s enough, I’m walking! It’s only 80km right? Fine, I have no choice, walking is the answer! Steph, being the more even tempered of our travelling party understood how far 80km actually is and told me rightly so that I was being an idiot. I just couldn’t face a third night spent sleeping in a bus on the side of the road!
Whilst we were trying to decide what to do, the truck driver had managed to steer his truck to the side in order to let our bus through. We stood in shock as the bus driver then drove through the mud tracks, looking like it was going to slip and topple over at any point! It was crazy to watch! He made it though and we piled onboard again to begin the final leg of our journey and arrive in Asuncion, the capital of Paraguay. The journey took 48 hours in total, and I can honestly say I’ve never smelled so terrible in my life!
We spent our day in Asuncion walking around the capital, wandering through the streets and exploring the market and town hall.
Our epic journey had finally come to an end, next stop Brazil! But next time, I think I’ll fly….