|Back to Paraguay Index|
|FILADELPHIA to ASUNCION • Paraguay
|AUGUST 4, 2006 • FRIDAY|
|Drive day with Mog leading. As we leave Filadelphia we see lots of cows, mostly Brahmas. There were some Paraguayan “cowboys” with very large brim hats. They all wave and give a thumbs up. A very weird thing was seeing a cow that had been slaughtered just off of the road. It had been skinned out, the hide was hanging in a tree, and there was a fire burning . . . No idea of it had been hit by a truck, but very weird needless to say.|
| For the next 100k or more there were BIG bird nests on the cross members of the electric poles. If you watched closely, you could see the green parakeets flying into them. The only other wild life we saw was a HUGE snake, and I do mean huge. It was dead, but was coiled in the middle of the road. It was about 4-5″ around and probably 9-10′ long. I wanted to run over it again to make sure it was dead, but Michael thought it pointless. Mick had the same idea, but didn’t want to get Mel high centered on it!! This is scary. I bet I don’t go sleep walking, or any other kind of walking, outside at night if this is an example of the slithering creatures here.
We make it about 2 hours outside Asuncion and camp at the gates of a hacienda ranch.
AUGUST 5, 2006 • SATURDAY
Arrive in Asuncion around noon. Clive and Ann find us a quite (no I didn�t mean quiet) nice camping spot at the Jardin Botanico, Botanical Gardens. The gardens are on the edge of town, which made it nice not to have to maneuver the trucks around town to a camping spot. The sign was too low for us to get through comfortable, so Michael climbed on top and lifted the sign on the chain up as I drove through. Mog spent the next 30 minutes trying to figure out a different way around.
The currency in Paraguay is the Guarani. That is the name of the native people here. The exchange rate is 5,420 Guarani to $1 USD. Mo was so excited because when she changed $200 USD, she became a Paraguayan millionaire!!! I have a great photo of her and her wad of money.
The 2 rigs that are open to the cab, Mel and K-9, have quite a clean-up to do in their living quarters after the nearly 2 weeks of dirt roads. They are absolutely covered inside, as in thick! Both have to take out ALL of their cupboards and drawers and completely clean everything and put it back. As nice as it would be to run back and forth from the cab to the camper easily, I am not sure it would be worth the mess! Our camper has stayed very tidy. It takes only about 20 minutes to wipe all of the surfaces clean of the thin layer of dust.
K-9 is having problems with alignment and causing bad tire wear. They would like to go to Mercedes. They also have some other kinks to work out. Michael would like our engine block heater problem figured out, so we tag along inside K-9, hoping to find someone at Mercedes to help. As it turned out, the Mercedes service writer (we guess that is what he was), met us at the Botanical Gardens and rode with us as a guide. He took us to their secondary workshop. Oh my gosh, this place is definitely not Mercedes of Lima. It was an old building, greasy, and dirty. They told K-9 that in order to get them in on Monday, they would have to be worked on here. They did have 2 Unimogs, about 50 year old ones!!! Both were up on blocks and looked like junk, but they were taking up garage space, so I guess someone is still using them. We are told that our Unimog would need to go to their main shop. We have a 7:30am Monday appointment.
We get dropped off 15 blocks from a shopping area, and cannot get to a McDonalds fast enough. It is in the 90’s here. K-9 does not have any A/C. So, riding in the back, with no ventilation was super stifling. We both drink 2 of their largest drinks without even blinking an eye!!!
We then head off to town to find him some slip-on, Merrell like shoes for Michael. He somehow left home without anything but hiking boots and sandals. We find some Land’s End shoes fairly quickly for about $20, which is quite a steal!
Then we set off to find our LARIUM – Malaria medicine. The group has “Malaria Monday,” where they all take their Larium pill to prevent Malaria. The med we have (yes, the $300 per person one), is only to take when you KNOW you have been exposed to Malaria and only for a 7-day exposure, then 10 days afterwards. The group says we need better protection than that. (That is one of the 1st things they talked to us about when we met up with them.) So, we have been looking for it since Bolivia, but since the elevation is go great in the Bolivian Andes, they did not have it, because they do not have Malaria. Of course, it took us looking in 4 cities, every farmacia, pharmacy, that we could find to finally figure that out. We stop at 3 different pharmacies, but no one knows what the Larium is. Finally 1 tells us to go to the hospital and get it at their pharmacy. The hall to the pharmacy in the hospital is through several waiting rooms full of people. I whisper to Michael that if we have to go thru any more waiting rooms, we may need more than malaria medicine by the time we reach the pharmacy. Finally, we inquire about our med. No one knows what it is. Not even the nurses that we stopped and chatted with in their break room. What to do? The pharmacy across from the hospital does not have it either, of course, but he gives us the name Casa Boller as the distributor of Roche in Asuncion. I am to call on Monday.
By this time, Michael has a headache from the knots in his back caused by driving the terrible road. We use a pharmacy phone book to try to find an American hotel where they might have a spa for a massage. We find a Sheraton. Michael gets a massage, $22/hour. I get a pedicure.
We get back to camp feeling like 2 new people. Although, the main gate to the Botanical Gardens is closed, and we have to walk the 1.2 miles back to our truck. It is an interesting walk in the dark! Next time we go out, we will take a flashlight just in case!
AUGUST 6, 2006 • SUNDAY
AUGUST 7, 2006 • MONDAY
One afternoon Judy and I went shopping. Paraguay is known for its lace. The “spider-web” lace is called “Nanduti”. We saw the completed product in several shops and in the visitors center, but no one was demonstrating how it was made. I didn’t know what to expect, but definitely did not expect the bright, multi-colored products we saw. Most were either very loud, or all white. We met the group at the restaurant “Talleyrand.” It was a “proper” restaurant with white tablecloths. Food was delicious.
Every night we had our friendly HIPPO to keep us company. The first night I kept hearing these awful sounds; something between a growl and a trumpet of an elephant. The next day we found that we were parked up against the zoo, and the hippo pond was closest to us. I guess he was sleeping all day in the water tank and awake all night. I also guess he was lonely because he would let out these bellowing sounds and then another hippo, which we later found in a different area of the zoo, would bellow back to him. I guess we are being taught a lesson about not complaining about the rooster crowing a 3am, or the dogs barking during the night. Neither of these compare with our hippo! I did finally catch him with his head out of the water and snapped a pix. I also saw a Tapir either swimming or walking across a water hyacinth covered lake. He was so cute!!!
AUGUST 8, 2006 • TUESDAY
The popular Paraguayan drink is yerba mate. It is drunk by both men and women. Each person has their own special cup. The traditional cup is made a bull horn. Sometimes they are then wrapped in tooled leather. Some are silver, or horn with a silver lining. The herbs are put into the cup about 1/2 full, and then water is poured over the herbs. It steeps for a while, and then drank through a very special silver straw with a strainer like thing on the end of it to keep the herbs from getting into the straw. People everywhere are carrying their cup and straw around with them. This is seen especially at shops where the employees have their cup and straw. Then, as the day goes on, then just add more water to the mixture. Not sure if they add more herbs or not. In fact, I’m not even sure if they clean out yesterday’s stuff when they add more. Some looked rather disgusting! The water is carried in a thermos, wrapped in tooled leather, and dyed just about any color, even purple! So the whole set up is a leather thermos, bull horn cup, and silver straw.
AUGUST 9, 2006 • WEDNESDAY
Asuncion, Paraguay Elevation: Population: 1.2 million
After weekend discussions with Mick (formerly owned a mechanic shop in London), Michael decided not to risk taking the Unimog to the Asuncion dealership. Good call. As it turns out, we received an email from Yanni Grecu of Unimog North America, that there was not a dealership in Paraguay that would know how to work on the new U-500. Plus it never freezes here, so they don’t even have block heaters. Mick has diagnostics with him, and they decide to work on it, sometime in the future, but before we get into cold weather again.
We receive news from Clive and Ann that they will be 3 days in the shop. They have a bad turbo, and it is being sent out for rebuilding. I didn’t even know they had a running problem. I thought it was just tires, door locks, brakes . . . oh well; we get to see more of Asuncion than we thought.
Michael has figured out that we have a solar problem, or should I say lack of solar problem. We are not charging very much, and this is quite a concern, because when we get on the river boat in Manaus for 5 days, our only energy will be solar. So he spends the mornings of Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday going to different repair stores looking for different battery chargers, inverters, converters, screws, bolts, fittings, and other things. Each day Michael has come back to camp with several bags, plus drawings of things on paper that he was using for communication. The one electric supply store, when they saw him come in would just get out a pad of paper and hand him a pen. He had been there so many times, drawing different pictures that they just got used to him drawing, not talking. I think what it finally boiled down to is that our system is smarter than we are. We didn’t think the batteries were as full as the panel said it was. It was never getting to 100%. It used to though, when we had the 6 batteries. (We pulled out 2 batteries and lowered the placement of the existing 4 before we left.) But since the batteries were NEARLY full, it was just putting power into them slowly. Then Stephen figured out why we were not charging from the alternator as we drove along. Some kind of fuse thing was not open, or was it closed? Oh well, it wasn’t working right, and it had blown the little fuse in the cab. With it replaced, we charged at 45 to 60 amps! That is huge, considering we were putting in 6-12amp with the solar.
My other “must have” item was MOSQUITO NETTING. I bought several yards of 60″ material in a fabric store, but then found a large single-bed net meant to be hung from the ceiling. Stephen has a snap setting gun, so we installed 2 snaps in the ceiling above our heads and 2 under the cabinets at our feet. It almost covers our feet, so we put a sheet over our legs and the net covers the rest. We are doing this because where we are parked there is quite a bit of stagnant water and mosquitoes. I have at least 15 bites. The good thing is that they do itch initially, but not the next day, which is very good for someone who has no self-discipline for not scratching!
We were warned at the Botanical Gardens not to carry much money, not to wear jewelry, and to leave our cells at the trucks when we went into Asuncion. Clive and Ann’s daughters warned them not to go into Asuncion unless they had to because of the crime. But we are stuck here, so we don’t have a choice. We taxied to the El Centro and walked around the Heroes Monument, a couple different plazas, visited the Palace (where during the Straus dictatorship if you stared at the Palace, you were shot!), and did some shopping. We had absolutely no problems!
Michael and I found a great grocery – Super Seis (Super 6). They had everything we could want, except MARSHMALLOWS!! We have had the grill out, and the group told us of roasting marshmallows that they found in Lima, and now I am craving them and cannot find them anywhere. I thought for sure the Mennonite store would have them. Oh well, I’ll keep looking! As far as real foods go, we have everything we need. At times, the lunch meats/cheeses are a bit iffy, but that is why I have peanut butter!!!
We found a mall, Shopping Del Sol, which has a Mexican food restaurant where we had tacos, quesadillas, and enchiladas. They also have Internet, so we spend a few hours here.
Tuesday was wash day. Everyone did hand washing and hung it on the 4 different lines strung between the trucks.
At night, we ate at home, mostly because of the walk back in after 6pm. Mick has a bad back and cannot easily do the walk without hurting badly the next day. We had 2 movie nights. The other trucks are plugged into power, so we play movies from Mel.
There is nothing really outstanding that I am aware of about Asuncion. It seems to be just a big business city.
Wednesday night, K-9 is back at camp. Guess we will continue on our journey tomorrow.
|Continue to Paraguay in an Expedition Camper •
Trinidad Jesuit Ruins