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Chris Upsdale - Lost in South America
19 Jan 2008

Last few days in Rio were a little traumatic.   Had my mobile nicked, whilst in the hostel and went to the police station to reprt it which helped to reaffirm my image of Americans abroad.   At the station there was this American bloke who was going nuts at the cops "You cant hold me, you got a warrant to take my passport, I'm a fucking marine" etc etc, when I pointed out this was Brazil he looked at me blankly wondering what I was talking about.   I'll swear he thought american laws applied to americans worldwide but he had tattoos on his neck so I wasn't about to press my point!   He was there cos he beat a girl up on the beach.   His defense being that if someone lashes out at him, he's a man and has to defend himself.   Prick!   Finally managed to pull myself away from Rio on about the 4th and I headed for Iguacu falls, which borders Argentina and Brazil and which you can also get to nearby Paraguay from.    Only took 22 hours on a bus  so that was pleasant.  Pete next time I get on a bus I promise to take your advice and take an immodium tablet, they were packed away in the hold and things got, how shall we say, a little uncomfortable.   Booked into a fab hostel in Foz de Iguazu - Hostel Bambu - and met my first real group of British travellers.   Visited the falls with Hannah a girl from Croydon I met on the bus and spent the day getting wet, shouting to each other over the noise and late afternoon I decided to do a Abseiling Rapel down the waterfall face.   When you see the poster and pics of people having a fab time its very enticing, when you are hanging 80 metres above sheer rocks with Waterfalls thundering all around you, you seem to develop a different outlook on your decision to 'enjoy' such nonsense!     The next day at the Hostel, me Hannah and Yanna (an american girl looking just like Minnie Driver) Decide to visit Itapiau Dam.......... and its incredible.   Its the second largest Hydroelectrical Dam in the World supplying 25% of Brazils entire Demand and 80% of Paraguays - thats about the same as Electricity for Great Britain, Ireland and most of Scandinavia.   FROM ONE DAM.  Reflecting on this, we may stereotype Brazil as a country cutting down its rainforests but this aside, environmentally, they seem to put the UK to shame.  Recycling is huge here.   Street Bins everywhere come in 3's for different materials, movement sensitive lights are common and Bio Fuel dominates at the Gas stations where its 40p cheaper than Petrol.   Pavements might be Obstacle Courses (can I sue the Health and safety Executive for making me so utterly unprepared for this?), Traffic lights meaningless, Poverty and corruption rampant but in some respects you have take your hats off to the Brazilians - Mainly their Bikinis and environmental awareness!   On the way back to the Dam, Yanna gets it into her head that we should go to Paraguay for Lunch! she's not allowed in without a Visa, I don't have my passport on me, but it still seems like a good idea so off we go!   End up with a couple of Paraguayans in the back of a van crossing the border.   Yanna and Hannah are paraniod about getting mugged and end up with their camera cards, cash, cell phones,  credit cards etc stuffed into Bras, Knickers and lord knows where else, but Hannah is definitely walking a little funny.   Lunch turns out to be Hotdogs which isn't what I imagined, we are offered Cocaine about 3 times (Don't worry mum, we politely declined) and went to a duty free shop which seemed mega expensive, Yanna is getting more and more anxious about being a illegal alien, so we decide to head back across the border before she wets herself (not good for credit card chips you see).   Back at the Hostel we say tearful farewells as me and Hannah head for the Argentinian side of the falls - 3 countries in one day turns out to be pretty cool -   The Hostel isn't, and its plate fulls of meat back on the Menu.   The Argentinian side of the waterfalls are even better and a lot more up close and personal.  I pay 10 quid for a safari stroke boat ride which involves white water rafting up stream!  How the skipper didn't rip the prop off I'll never know but we get truly dunked under the falls - This is welcome relief as (you probably don't want to hear this) the Heat here is relentless, it hasn't dropped below 34 degrees in the daytime this year, and the humidity only makes matters worse.   Its then time I feel, for me to leave and I head south to Posadas which is 6 hours away on a bus and my preferred entry point for Paraguay.   End up sharing the bus ride with 3 Ozzies from the Bambu Hostel and we all get booked into a room together.   Next day we go to the Jesuit ruins at San Ignacio, we have no idea what Jesuit ruins are, or what to expect, but it all turns out pretty good.   Tan lines across my feet from my flip flops are now highly prominent much to the amuesement of the Ozzies!   Back in Posadas we end up on the water front watching the locals drink Ma-te, jog, rollerskate etc with the river and Paraguay as the back drop.   Meet james again (an American from the waterfalls) and we all hang out sipping beers and watching a band take an hour to tune their instruments and then play two songs - they were either tuning up or Argentinian rock music is crap!   Spend the next day with the ozzies trying to find a Museum that we subsequently learn shut down a couple of years ago (and my LP was published in March 07).   I then head for Paraguay on local transport which is highly entertaining and a lot quicker than the Brazil Argy border.   On arrival in Argentina, the difference is immediate, whilst it is widely accepted through out South America that Argentinians are right up themselves and slightly miffed that Argentina is geographically where it is and not attached to Europe, Paraguay is a world away.  Poverty is everywhere, the Infrastructure partial at best, but the people are open and warm and I am soon sipping Terre - A cold version of Ma-te which in itself is like Tea, so an Iced Tea I suppose - with a bloke in the street who changes currencies.   I have no idea what the UK to Paraguay exchange rate is like and try to suss it out through using the dollar,  which takes ages and a lot of his Terre.   Turns out 1 pund is equivalent to 9'055 Guarani.   Have a half chicken supper for tea which costs 10'000 Guarani and I then sip beers at 3'000 Guarani per litre - Paraguay is cheap, very cheap.   Bump into James the Yank (again) and the next day we head up to more Jesuit ruins in Trinidad and Jesus before heading back on the bus (which breaks down).   Need a new camera as mine has busted, get a Pentax Optico A30 for a bargain 1million 800'000 Guarani.   We then meet Peter a semi Pro basket ball player from Kenya travelling around earning money who buys whiskey and insists on a "blokes night of sport"  Patriots were winning was the last thing I remembered.   Leaving to head into the cetnre of Paraguay in the next day or so.


19 Jan 2008


:::Chris Upsdale - Lost in South America,,start
posted 19 January 2008

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