Hi blog followers. Currently we are sitting in an internet cafe in Corumba, Brazil, waiting for the train that will take us to Bolivia. We´ve had quite a busy few weeks and collected a fair few passport stamps since we wrote the last blog.
We left laid back Uruguay and took a night bus to the town of Posadas on the Argentine-Paraguay border. Here we enjoyed the warmer weather and a few more days in fab Argentina before we crossed the bridge for a few hectic days in Paraguay. It´s such a different place to the other South American countries we´ve been to so far. It´s a lot poorer but the people are really friendly and curious about why tourists want to go there - Lara managed to hold a conversation in spanish with one lady on a bus! Also due the large German populations in the north (probably where the Hitlers live!) means they have great beer, and also kept asking if we were German.
We spent one day travelling into rural Paraguay, on the lovely public buses, to look around the Jesuit ruins in Trinidad. They were really quite impressive and, despite it being a UNESCO heritage site, it was remarkable to be the only people there. It was also funny to see how the ruins are bigger than the village they are set in.
Our only other excursion in Paraguay was to the enormous Itaipu Dam on the Brazilian border. It´s absolutely colossal and apparently produces all of Paraguay´s and a fifth of Brazil´s energy needs, which is a lot. The main negative about it is that to make it they had destroy large areas of waterfalls and local villages. This felt especially significant once we had seen Iguaçu, which is only a few kilometres away.
It was cool to have been to Paraguay but some things were not so good, such as the bus robberies we witnessed and the gunshots that were going off as we walked to the Brazil border. I don´t think travelling only the border area of Paraguay gives a good impression of the rest of the country - it´s certainly a different place once you are out of the border cities. Once across the bridge it was a relief to be somewhere more developed like Brazil.
We spent a few days in Foz do Iguaçu enjoying the comfort of a cool hostel and the awesome scale of the Iguaçu Falls - they really aren´t over rated. We went over to Argentina (again!) to see the falls up close. From the Argentinean side we walked under the falls and right to the top of Garganta del Diablo - which was incredible. You feel very small as a human against nature! We also visited the falls from the Brazilian side which was alot more chilled and less busy than the Argentinean side. It gave us a fantastic overview of the falls - you can see into the Garganta del Diablo, which isnt possible from the other side. It is easy to understand why the area has been used as a film set so many times.
As Brazil is really quite big and a pretty expensive place to travel we decided not go to Rio de Janeiro or the coast. Maybe we can next trip! Instead we moved further inland to the wetlands of the Pantanal. For three nights we slept in hammocks and spent the days out in the bush. We saw a load of wildlife including caiman, giant otters (apparently the most aggressive animal in the water of the pantanal - forget the croc looking caimen or piranhas), vultures (eating a dead horse!), toucans, blue and red macaws, monkeys - howlers and captain, capichura (largest rodent in the world) and racoon-y-things!
We also got to go for a horse ride and spent an afternoon piranha fishing - they are really easy to catch and taste better than you´d think!
It was a special few days and it felt a world away from anywhere else. We we also lucky to be with a fantastic group of people and had a very enthusiastic guide - Sandro. It was sad to leave but we had to push on. From the Pantanal we were able to flag down a bus which took us to our current location of Corumba on the Bolivian border. We had hoped to leave yesterday but the only train of the day was full. Still, one extra day in Brazil isn´t exactly a hardship (especially as it´s lovely weather, hot and sunny - haha!) and it meant that we could go to a pizza buffet last night (waiters constantly bringing round different pizzas).
Although, I´m not sure if the chocolate and cheese flavour that we tried would catch on at home.