Day Eight - South to Paraguay

Woke up this morning to our first long drive across a dirt road. Took a good couple hours to make it from the little town of Bodequen to the little town of Bonito, a distance of maybe fifty miles. The car, obviously, little appreciated being pushed into ruts and craters that reminded me of bombed Viet Nam roads I never actually visited. We took solace, if that's some kind of comfort, in assuring ourselves that we were probably one of very very few foreigners who'd ever been this far off the beaten tourist track save those who went wayward into the Amazons never to be heard from again. From this point forward we would spend the next day or two driving straight south. By noon we'd come to the border of Paraguay and, finding the border crossing customs house closed, made the gutsy decision to cross into this country which had so far not been on our itinerary. However, after driving in a mile or two we found little wortwhile to see or do and chickened out from venturing deeper in. Had a cop come out of nowhere to ask for our papers we both knew a life in a Paraguayan jail had to rank among history's least favorite experiences. So we crossed back into Brazil and ate lunch at a churrascaria. For those who don't know Brazilian cuisine, oh man, this is some good stuff if you're a carnivore like me. The premise here is that you pick up a dish at a salad bar and pile on whatever trimmings you like then sit down to wait for the main course. As soon as you do this, and until such time that you cry uncle from a distended belly, the restaurant servers come at you at the rate of once every thirty seconds to a minute with a giant skewer and a knife the size of a machete to slice off bits of the most delicious beef and pork you've ever tasted. Of course, you CAN wave off your server this round, if you're that kind of wimp who can't keep up, but you'll hurt his feelings. And that's just not right eh. So like a good local I ate and ate and didn't stop til I was in danger of getting a coronary. Man that was some good stuff. Not to be missed if you're ever in Brazil or Argentina.

We drove much farther south along nearly empty roads hour after hour with little to see but grasslands and the occasional biped walking from who knows where to beyond who knows where. Really, we would puzzle over who these people were and what they could possibly be doing in an area where the distance between even the smallest of villages was measured in the tens of miles. I would have offered a ride if I wasn't so unnerved by the mystery.

Late in the afternoon we again crossed an invisible border into Paraguay which bisects a city by the name of Pedro Juan Caballero. I asked around until I found a customs office as I wanted a Paraguayan entry stamp on my passport but it was denied me on grounds that my Brazil visa allowed only a single entry into the country. Which meant I had already broken immigration law on both sides of the border. Twice. With that I slinked back onto the Brazilian side after which had I been stopped by an official would have been instantly prepared to swear on a stack of bibles that I'd never ever ever been to Paraguay. I was a bit surprised, as a side note, that not a single Brazilian we spoke to had even minimal knowledge of spanish despite living whole lifetimes in a city literally divded into two countries. How is this possible?

Trying to make a little headway back towards Rio we drove along further south tonight til we hit Amambai, another one of the dusty little towns arranged either side of the road. Nothing particulary noteworthy about the town or the hotel or the pizza we had for dinner.

Day 9