Colonia del Sacramento/Urugay – Ciudad del Este/Paraguay

In some countries you feel good right from the start and it´s very rare that this first impression turns out to be wrong. Uruguay is one of these friendly countries for us. It´s quiet, the people are relaxed and friendly. The Uruguayans in average have less money than their neighbours in Argentina. The result is a nostalgic chic. What they offer in antic shops for high prices in our country, here it´s still in daily use. Especially on the highways with it´s sparse traffic it´s apparent. Beside the fact, that there are still many people riding horses, you can see many cars with an age of some decades. Only the rust seems to keep some of them together. And still everything looks tidy, simple but not run down. In some other countries it was always difficult for us to understand, why the people show such a low respect to their environment have and how they get used to live among their rubbish, independently of their often limited material and financial background.

After 9 days we already leave Uruguay. For just one day we have a test drive in Brazil. Immediately one feels a difference. In Uruguay the majority of the car drivers were greeting us, here not a single one. When we wanted to stop somebody to ask for the direction, we had to try quite a while. They just ignore us. Maybe they are scared? Scared of us as foreigners and travellers? But if there is a first contact, for example while shopping, also the Brazilians are interested and friendly, like in most of the countries we have crossed.

Another very positive impression in Brazil – there is no need of formalities about entering or leaving the country. Good for me, because after 2 years on the road there is no more space in my passport. When we want to cross the border to Argentina again it takes a while, but without problems, because we skip the customs. The generally very friendly Argentinians seem to employ there more unpleasant citizens in there borders, especially as customs officials. The import of most sorts of food is forbidden. More than weapons, drugs or thinks like that (nobody never asked for that) they seem to be afraid of the little fruit-fly. Following their logic, these flys prefer to travel in tourist bags. But behind these measures, similar to the ones on the Chilean border seem to be more economic interests. So you have to buy complete new food supplies behind the border and to get to the next town in these sparsely inhabited areas, it could take days. So we are forced to smuggle food.

We are in the country of “Mate”. Of course we have seen this tea-like drink already in Argentina, but especially here in the North east of the country, where they grow lots of “Yerba”, in Uruguay, Paraguay and in Southern Brazil you can see, what an important part “Mate” plays in everybody’s daily life. In the classic way you drink it with a bombilla, a metal-straw with a colander at the end, out of the Kalebasse, a cup made of a bottleneck pumpkin. The drink passes from one person to the other, all drinking from the same bombilla, as you can see it, for example during a TV talk-show. Hot water also is always available in petrol stations, where you can fill it directly into your thermos bottle.

Especially in Uruguay we can see, how many people, because of there “Mate addiction”, just are left with one free hand. While they are always carrying the Kalebasse in one hand and the thermos bottle underneath the upper arm, they push with the other hand the shopping cart, drive their car, or drink their Mate on the back seat of a motorbike.

Where once was a dense jungle, nowadays its difficult to find a shadowy place. Mate and Sugar cane plantations and wide meadows, took over these extensive areas. The few trees, which still exist(-ed), are passing us daily in piles on trucks. There are numerous saw mills along the way. In the hilly region of Misiones, our last section in Argentina, there are still forests, which form a strong contrast, to the lucent red soil – red soil, which covers everything with red dust and if wet, forms a sticky mud. So either the sun burns without mercy, with temperatures in the upper 30s, which means temporally more than 50°C above the temperatures in Germany, or there are thunderstorms with heavy rains.

In Misiones we are visiting the ruins of the Jesuits of St Ignacio Miní, a settlement, where once lived together Jesuit missioners and Guarani Indians, economically quite successful. Nowadays this region appears poorer, than the rest of the country. There are often only simple wooden huts and especially the Indigenas seem to live at the margins of society. And we are visiting the famous waterfalls of Iguazu – the worlds most beautiful waterfalls.

Then we leave Argentina, where we spent in total 3 months and travelled through 20 of the 23, partly very different provinces. Here we received most of the presents on our journey, received invitations to eat, cakes, drinks, a whole melon. Complete houses were left to us to live in. As a last Good bye we receive the 13th stamp of Argentina in our Passports. By boat we cross the line, where the river Iguazu joins with the river Parana. To our left Argentina, to our right Brazil and ahead of us Paraguay.


translated by Maik

photos to this article: Colonia del Sacramento/Urugay – Ciudad del Este/Paraguay : Fotos

25. Januar 2009 - Tom & Maik | english texts | Kommentare :: comments :: comentarios | Inhalt drucken

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