We're working our way down to Southern Paraguay today to visit the Jesuit Missions. I'm still apprehensive about the bus - silly as its only the same as getting a National Express coach in the UK, but we don't do buses at home - its either car or train. Stef's concerns about the safety of our luggage has got me twitchy, again daft because there's more opportunity for our bags to go astray at an airport than on a coach.
We got to the bus station with loads of time to spare. We'd expected it to be really busy and for us to be hassled - it wasn't and we weren't. All the buses coming and going, and there were lots, seemed very smart and we both subconsciously started to relax. We'd gone through the departure "gate" to stand by the platform for our bus before it was due. Just as well, it was running slightly late and it whizzed up, stopped, we got in and off it shot before people had sat down. It was the same routine at each stop. Our bags we're labeled as we'd been told they would be and we sat for 5 hours watching the scenery go by on what was a very comfy bus.
It took about half an hour to get clear of Asuncion. The surrounding countryside was very lush and green with tropical trees and plants. The earth is very red (must have a high iron content). It is again mostly flat but there are a few high mounds of rock. They seem somewhat out of place, there's not gradual incline up to them they are simply just there.
The landscape doesn't change noticeably through the journey. The bus stops every now and again. Some people get off, others get on and off we race again. At a few stops people get onboard selling snacks and drinks. The bus keeps going while they ply their wares, the get off at the end of the village/next stop and catch the next but back to where they started.
By about 4:30 its getting dark. In the distance we could see lightning - again great forks in the sky. Seems like we're destined to have storms follow us around. We're driving straight into this one and the wind and the rain both pick up in force.
At the other end, Stef shot off the bus before me. Even though they knew we got on together, they wouldn't give him my bag as he didn't have my ticket. We got a taxi to our hotel. From the lobby we both knew we were back into budget accommodation - old leather armchairs that looked like they'd seen better days and a decidedly dodgy looking guy at reception. As he started down a dimly lit corridor to our room my mind switched back to the Hotel Central in Tacuarembo and I was expecting the worst. Our room though is large and clean, if not a little basic.
Almost out of cash we found a local cash point. Stef tried to get money last night - despite the machine seeming to do its stuff it failed to hand over the cash! What's meant to be a bank on the corner is now a pharmacy. The bank next to the hotel has space and cabling for an ATM but no machine! We aborted our hunt for cash quite quickly though as the storm finally broke and in seconds we were caught in torrential rain. Rivers of water were running down the main street so we went for the other local currency - US dollars.