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Monday, 3 April 2017

Derailed Notion of Time




1 o’clock and we are arriving to Posadas. We are hungry, tired, and irritated, but finally manage to find a luggage locker and a bus to Encarnación (the Paraguayan city on the other side of Paraná River). The bus is dirty, it looks rather old, and it gets crowded pretty fast.
‘How long does it take to reach Encarnación?’ my boyfriend asks the driver. We are on a very tight schedule. By 6 o’clock we should be back to Posadas Bus Terminal, where we should be picked up and taken to Carlos Pellegrini (160 km South).
‘5 hours is enough to visit the Jesuit Ruins at Trinidad and return’ I keep saying to myself.
The customs check is fast on the Argentinean side, but it takes a lot of time only to get to the Paraguayan side, with people pushing one another in the overloaded bus. It reminds me of Romania twenty years ago, when stepping out of the communist era. And it is hot – hotter than any destination visited so far in my 1-month trip through South America. I’m greeted by some dirty toilets and I reckon it is worse than my first experience when entering Russia. However, I am really open to everything that’s new, so I try to be fair. People have beautiful traits here and many of them are fair-skinned and blonde, just like me. A legacy of the Germans coming to this country after WWII.
‘Does this bus go to the Bus Terminal?’ I ask a guy in front of me; he says that it does. So we stay on it, although the 10 minutes necessary to reach Encarnación from Posadas have now turned into 1 hour. At one point, the driver stops the bus and asks: ‘Where are you going?’. And then he informs us that we’ve already passed the Bus Terminal and that we should head back. We get off; the heat is overwhelming and we don’t have Guaranis. My Brazilian friend’s card doesn’t work outside Brazil, so I exchange some Dollars in a bank. The cab drivers ask a lot of money to take us to the ruins; still, I’d like to negotiate with them; it is already half past three, so our chances to reach the ruins and return in due time are sparse.
In the end, the guys decide to go by bus. So, after a very funny encounter with the Head of the Tourism Board in Encarnación, who gives us some flyers and gets us on the bus [‘When you return, just waive any bus heading to Encarnación’], we’re off. The bus is so old and so slow, that the 30 minutes promised to reach the ruins turn into 1 hour. That’s when I realise that Paraguayans have a different notion of time.
The reddish colour of the Jesuit Ruins is all around
The ruins are 1 km away from the bus stop. Beautifully kept, but sadly – no story, leaflet, or guide to ‘accompany’ them. The 4 hours we needed to reach them make me understand why this IS in fact the least visited Unesco Heritage Site in the world!
Marcel, Vitor, and I
‘C’mon, guys! We really have to go.’ I keep saying to my friends after 1 hour of looking around and taking pictures. We are lucky enough to have mobile phone reception, so we can call the Argentinean guide and let him know that we can’t make it to Posadas by 6 o’clock. He moves the meeting hour to 8. In my opinion, it is still impossible for us to make it.
Bitchin'
Out in the road, there is no car stopping or bus coming. The German girl waiting by our side is also very surprised. After nearly 1 hour of waiting, a bus arrives. But it is late… 20 minutes to 8 by the time we arrive in Encarnación. No bus to take us to Posadas. We have to catch a cab. We easily cross the Paraguayan border, but the bridge linking Posadas to Encarnación is full of cars.
‘This will take at least 2 hours’ the cab driver says. He advises us to cross the bridge by foot. We give it a thought and start to run. It is almost half past eight and we also remember that we have to get our luggage back (they close at 9), so we are really chancing it. We cross the Argentinean border, get into another cab and manage to get to Posadas Bus Terminal in the nick of time.
We are tired and we haven’t eaten a thing since morning. We grab some food, meet our driver, and start the adventurous ride to Esteros del Iberá wetlands. Our car is practically skating on the muddy road. At midnight, I fall asleep, defeated by our crazy day.
In a couple of days, I’ll be back to Paraguay. I’m really curious if this next experience is as hectic as the last. I’ll surely live to tell!    

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