My husband and me leave the lushness of the cordillera behind, zipping through Brazil, meeting unreal real-estate agents on a motorbike and meeting with more Paraguayans in an unchanged rural setting.
Less than a year ago this is what went before: Mentally tired I stopped at a farm to work and settle the mind. Here I met another traveler, Geo, now my husband. Very unexpected we decided to move away from the farm, somewhere else in Paraguay. We kept a promise: to replace the main workers at the farm when their mom from Germany would come over.
The motorbike, Kenton, is a 10 horsepower Chinese product known to be bought by Paraguayans and Indians only, Mennonites and Germans do not trust its capacities. Geo has mounted a beer crate on the non existing rack on the back of the Kenton, by tying broom sticks with water-hose clamps. We want to ride the Ruta 12 because of its lack of traffic but having no gomeria’s nor too many gas stations I want Geo to update his gearbox with at least the most basic items. We buy a bicycle pump, 2 patches and glue. The chain is ready for renewal but hopefully it’ll last. The tires have lost a decent amount of profile, hopefully that will do.
As a cyclist and always been depending on myself, I give my independence to Geo. Now it is my husband who is responsible. Whether we have punctures or more severe accidents (think of crashing into an anteater) he is the one driving the vehicle. I prepare ourselves for any unlucky incidents by chosing corned beef, instant coffee and water. Geo carries a guitar and I have sufficient textile for embroidering another 3 years of ao po’i.
Off we are.
On to Cuidad del Este to pick up our 10 year USA granted visa’s. I ran out of a second 3 month visa extension and without an active immigration I deliberately over-stay my visa in order not to risk denying entry into Paraguay. My bicycle and panniers are still in the north of Paraguay.
Sleeping across the border at Foz de Igazu is being very close to the Cataratas waterfall. Geo and I both do not feel the need to see a famous natural attraction, but to stay away only to be able to say to others that we did not go, is a bit silly.
Although we both find it uneasy to be among so many people, I enjoy being able to point my camera shamelessly at faces. Most people do not notice me doing so, having other things on their mind.
Posing at your best for dating-sites perhaps?
I am impressed by the waterfalls, the artfully designed wings of butterflies, cute coati’s and multiply nationalities.
Brazil has something to offer to a tourist, unlike Paraguay.
People don’t go to Paraguay for impressive nature. Tourists do not flock to sample the soothing countryside in Paraguay, there’s nothing really. But that’s now exactly the draw for both of us.
From Central Cordillera over back roads and mainly dirt tracks we stop in R.I. 3 Corralles. We are sleeping in the house of the grandfather of Oswaldo, meanwhile attracting a nice formation of bedbugs on my torso, after which we check out the lush surroundings. We are led by Katharina and Oswaldo, two young real-estate agents who offer their services free of any costs.
Katharina is an 18 year young Germanic beauty, living with her family in new lands after having exchanged a country changing into a too Islamic state for her parents liking.
Our Kenton motor-vehicle carry us further to Yataity, the capital of ao po’i embroidery.
We stay at the posada of Isabel, 11 years to go to be a centenarian. She’s of such a sunny character, that we both experience her as warm, shiny and content.
When she speaks to us she does with so much delight that it makes me shine as well. She’s happy to run her very own hotel, though mixing numbers up and forgetting earlier said words. Food turns out to be festive!
At age 89 her eyes are still functioning to embroider meters long hand-loom cotton, orders from abroad.
My husband and I enjoy the tranquility of sleepy villages like these, although it was me who wanted to stay here to sample the heart of ao p’oi culture, and so I am seated much of our time between very old ladies teaching me patiently what they do since they were little girls.
So far always been fortunate to find a gomeria right after a puncture, we experience so again on our way into Asunción.
Going out of Asunción, over the bridge into Jose Falcón is meeting with trash, shacks and seemingly poverty. And desired food…
The pretty, clean countryside where people are able to live partly self-sustainable has turned into crackled earth, prickly bush and hardships. An old skinny man walking along the road with his bicycle is a big contrast with old lady Isabel who satisfying embroider meters long hand-loom cotton.
Asunción to Fortin Roja Silva via Jose Falcón counts 300 kilometers, all of it earth. Even though the road appears on Google maps it is not possible to convince the GPS to travel there. The system does not consider it a possibility to ride it. The first 100 kilometers has no services. Two trucks, two pickup trucks but not one car, are the only vehicles we encounter. Later on it will be remarkable less.
Being on the back of a motorbike has advantages for me, besides that I like it, I find handing out responsibilities a sudden comfort. Of course, only because Geo is capable. It is a natural happening, since I am not quickly to adjust, nor modifiable, nor willing.
Geo and I, with toucans and flamingos flying overhead, both following the Ruta 12, one of the 12 existing main roads cutting through Paraguay, sometimes not more than a cattle track, are impressed with the bareness out here.
I am aware that our journey over a road little traveled has perils. That when it start raining we will be hopelessly lost with the risk to walk back to the closest estancia farm, which can be as far as 50 kilometer. That would we get stuck in the realm of dry forest we have to rely on rancid butter, molded bread and a mere 2 liters of water.
Truck drivers have enough food and water to get stuck for 15 days. They offer us téréré and tortilla, a welcome supplement to my meager breakfast.
We travel with the Ortliebs connected to the crate, making the center of mass ridiculously high, hard to keep balance. My fancy city clothing, most of it never worn, and the guitar on top make up for a funny mountain at the back of our Kenton motor bike.
I think its our non-experience that allows us to travel routes without any tank station service, nor tarmac, nor some certainty nor anything to see. I would be more self-reliable on my bicycle, resulting in being heavier packed. But then I could not travel these roads as I am too slow to cover the huge distances.
So, not being overly prepared, I opted to sleep the night in the open, but the Chaco in winter gets cold at night and the first houses we come upon we are accepted as paying guests. The place is called Kilometer 180. Our host Martina López. It is again a pleasant surprise to witness Paraguayans as open, welcoming and lacking the expression of their doubtful thoughts, if they harbour those.
Fortin Teniente Martinez is where we eat milanesa. These places seem to be dropped into a maze of farm roads and a very few main-roads cutting through.
Those main routes are frequently enough ridden that cows and wild animals are hit and their carcasses dry away in the middle of the road; that says something about the frequency…