The second time in Paraguay brings me a different experience. I now know the people, have much more comprehensive skills of the language, I know the landscape’s limitations, it’ll bring me nothing but agriculture, I know it’s only a wastefulness of 400 kilometers before I reach a different geographical region. Then I am done with the long long long long long formation of visible cultivation.
I fail in trying to avoid the main-road. I wanted to cycle on mud-roads and sandy tracks but, arriving at the junctions to turn off, it rains. And not a drizzle rain, but a full-blown downpour. The drops hit my ear drum, money and addresses written on pieces of paper gets soaked, my clothes cling to me as a child to its mom, and the warmth let me sing out loud while I enjoy cycling doused. Cycling on mud tracks and arena, sandy tracks has become impossible. A hardheaded stubborn person, I got experience now, and I do not give it a try.
It’s so humid that wearing the yesterday’s wet clothes is a relief of coolness.
Realizing the heat has arrived, I have entered the tropic lands far removed from the Patagonian inhospitably. There’s little fun and nothing beautiful to see along these highways. I knew it would be boring, so I charge myself with music.
People live closely along the highway, they relax on reclining chairs and hammocks, sipping téréré, cold mate. They chat together or in groups, waving at me when I pass. Natural surroundings are more in tune with the region’s climate. Passing towns is seeing wooden mortars with hand-picked herbs and roots to add to téréré or mate. People on the road and farther off along the red earthen back roads live a life relative self sustainable, with pigs, ducks, plenty of fruit trees, vegetables, a cow and a horse.
One camp is at someone’s garden, close to the pigs and a kid deeply interested in me. Another at an abandoned house, the owner a German, now gone.
Late in the evening I have the neighbor’s cow coming to give my pans, perhaps not quite that clean, another lick.
This country is at once more normal, less European, very tranquil, natural and as I knew: I am enjoying. Full-blown!
Even if that means cycling the Ruta 1 with little shoulder, noisy trucks and the continuation of some more fences. The grass waves along the direction I am going. Sweat evaporates from the outside of my hands.
The map had depicted ‘scenic river beaches’ along the river half on my way to Asunción. I would stop there for two nights, bought enough food and counted on sufficient fresh water supply. As the case with the Parana river, so the Tebicuary reached far out of its banks. The scenic river beaches were no more, fresh water supply in abundance though.
In trying to get on a quiet back-road towards the river, I found, not surprisingly, a closed gate. I cycled further, found another closed gate, trespassed and set up camp.
Immediately I find myself in a fairy tale surrounding, where a stream rambles through the lush roof of green. Not knowing that the following day I am in between 5 streams, each deeper than my knees, an overload of fresh water from the heavens has locked me in.
Yes, this time around I am updated about the weather forecast, more or less randomly because I pressed the button refresh of weather.com. I am warned for two oncoming days of rain and thunder.
Knowing this fact, I place my tent at a safe spot: underneath a strong-looking tree, and not near fallen or unstable rooted trees, on a carpet of green and not at a sandy place possibly being flood recently by rainfall, backed by a web of trunks, fallen trees and lianas, so a bull will not stroll too close.
I admire the place where I am, even though it’s still part of pasture for cows: an earlier torment brought along uncountable branches and leaves, easy to make a fire. Broken trees fall and grow anew on the spot, from above, from below, in between bamboo sprouts.
My neighbor turns out a growling bull, a frightening sound, but where the cows run away from me, tipping over in their surprise, the bull just sleeps or rests or sits around, very near to me.
I am alarmed by a rather loud sound, which might be wild boars indeed. Paraguay has wild bores which attack in large groups; the only way to escape them is to climb a tree. I need to check the sound, and I am relieved I discover monkeys instead.
The following day those monkeys make such loud articulate sounds I can’t think of anything other than they’re producing offspring. But perhaps it were vocalizations aimed at me, as they vanish for the day and oncoming night.
The night is tantalizing, if you think away the millions of mosquitoes attacking me, not having anti-mosquito cream nor coils to burn, I’d made a smokey fire as soon as I arrived but to no avail whatsoever.
The forest is infested with fireflies who blink like the electric windmills do. Some fly a centimeter from my face, I smile like I watch a 3-dimensional movie. A near full moon belches over us, an orchestra of insects plays, and I call it magic.
There is wood to burn, a stream to wash, a tree to climb, shadow to cool and sun to warm. I want to catch this feeling. But I know as soon as should I build a house, things change. Instead I enjoy it, while I scratch the bites of mosquitoes, with some sand placed on the skin. Rubbing it in with the heel of my foot works wonders.
This is a perfect spot. No need to want this life, I have it.