It’s strange, but after moving from place to place after Buenos Aires, we felt the need to stay a little bit longer in San Ignacio, at the hostel El Jesuita : thus, we spent a week here, talking with other travelers and the very nice people of the pueblo.
Well, we survived to the cold showers in the garden and finally enjoyed a warm, generous sun, seizing this chance for exploring the surroundings of the Misiones, and it was pretty crazy and funny.
First, we decided to have a walk to the National Park of Teyú Cuaré, almost ten km from San Ignacio, and hike through the three main paths : el Sendero de la Casa de Martin Borman, a Nazi that lived hidden in the tropical forest, el Sendero de la Selva y el Mirador de los Escalones.
It was quite hard to jump from rock to rock, sloloming between the tangled roots and trying not to eat to much cobwebs or bichos (yum, proteins, would say the crazy guy of Man vs Wild), but it was really impressive to penetrate in the dark and luxurious tropical bushes, full of unknown buzzes, flying insects and brightly-colored birds. We also saw a strange animal among the tree, similar to a rabbit, but without the long ears. And after climbing and panting over the natural stairs cut in the rocks, we could cast a glance over the huge Río Paraná : Paraguay, here we’ll com soon!
We rested a bit in the beautiful Mirador, eating our sandwiches while the lizards were bathing in the sun, then recollected ourselves and took our way back home. We might have walked 22 km that day, but the thought of home-made pizza gave us the strenght to perform this hike till the end! And thanks to Herminia for her delicious pizzas! Between our third and fourth pizza (we were so hungry and the night was so cold, again), we decided to go with Michael, a crazy German guy we just met at the hostel, to visit Paraguay next morning. Yee-haaa! Herminia suggested that we could take the boat, it was faster and with less change. However, we didn’t know the schedule of the boat and so we would have to call at the local port ; then the boat would have left us in the middle of nowhere, some miles from a city that didn’t exist on the map, and our spanish was far from perfect. ANd, oh, we had no guaraní yet. Too much incognitas, we guessed. The idea was nice, though.
So, we woke up at dawn to catch the first bus for Posadas, then took another one to reach the downtown, where Michael had to leave his backpack in another hostel. Janyce and him managed very well with the inexistent bus stops, although one of us probably didn’t pay the fare, ’cause we couldn’t underestand what the driver told us. This done, we took the International bus to Encarnación, and here began the adventure. We had to get off at the Argentinian frontier to had our passeports stamped, but there was a problem with mine : when I eventually got out, I just saw my bus going away, with Janyce and Michael! Gosh! What shall I do? and I was with no guaraní! Walk towards the paraguyan side, or waiting for another bus and then show my ticket? I didn’t really had the time to abandon myself to paranoia, since a bus came almost immediately, and I found again Janyce and Michael at the paraguayan border.
Then, we missed our stop to the central omnibus station and had to walk ten or twelve blocks back, but it was a nice chance to visit Encarnación. We could see little stands of flowers and dried herbs for infusions or medicine at every corner of the streets : maybe there was some mary-jane, next to camomille and mate? And oh, lots of clothshops with strange mannequins : their asses were all pushed up (yes, here a cute ass is the most attractive mean of seduction).
Our clinging and rusty bus left us at the ruins of Trinidad : they were in better state than Santa Ana and San Ignacio, but the atmosphere was a less suggestive, maybe. Michael climbed everywhere and we had good laughs! To get to Jesus, 11, 6 km afar (precision is all, you see), we had to take a shared taxi (a yellow noisy golf-car, to be intended here). The first one asked us 60000 guaraní, but it was way too expensive, so we walked to the nearest gas station and found another one that first asked us 40000 guaraní, but we bargained and had it with no difficulty for 25000 for the three of us, to and fro (and I’m sure we could have done it for less). Bargain, Bargain!
The visit finished, we return to Encarnación with plenty of money : we had to spend it all, because no one would have accepted to change them back! Thus we wandered near the central station, looking for a nice little place to eat, but could find nothing of the sort. Ah, to be so rich and not knowing where to spend all the money! We ended up in a comedor, ordered the biggest bottle of beer and then feasted a bit, eating comestible empanadas, asado, pollo and milanesa (fried and fried again)! And this time, while crossing the fontier, we all ran to get our three passeports stamped together (the responsible didn’t even look at them) and departed with Michael at Posadas, with the promise to meet again in Salta, have so much to tell (and yeah, we didn’t die in Paraguay!). We came back home so late that Herminia was getting worried. We should have take the boat, after all?We decided to rest, next day, so we walked five km to the Playa del Sól. We discovered that the beach didn’t exist anymore, but his wasn’t the only surprise of the day : the guardcoast troup invited us to lunch with them, and then to dinner (pasta and asado on the menu) (don’t worry girls, they are all good guys, no sexo). Carlos “Aznavour” proposed us to visit the Cierra Victoria (spanish name of Teyú Cuaré) and explained us the history of the place, talking about trees, Indios, military life in Argentina and narcotic traffic in Paraguay. We also visited a Guaraní village and its school (where they teach in spanish and guaraní) and almost had a chat with the cacique (he was doing his siesta, so we didn’t wan to disturb). Then Carlos brought up to the Sendero mistico, in the middle of the forest, to know some local legends and monsters invented to scare the children enough so they wouldn’t go with strangers (well, it did’nt work with us). How great, how unexpected, how kind! We couldn’t believe we were living all this!
And now we have a lot of new contacts and a bunch of legends to tell!