Throughout the America's- and even Africa- there are monuments celebrating the end of European rule. Ascuncion, Paraguay.
Paraguay was almost the country that wasn't. Rather than ride to the falls with Henno, I decided to head west to visit Paraguay- don't ask me why, I've just always wanted to go there! Many had told me the place was flat and boring. I was pleasantly surprised.
I arrived at the border and spent hours exiting Argentina in the hot sun. I met a nice fellow there who helped me through the routine. He had travelled through Colorado and we had alot to talk about. He gave me plenty of information about Paraguay in general and about the Capital as well.
When I arrived at the Paraguayan side of the river I discovered I needed a visa- this was the first visa requirement of the trip! The thought of going back through all the border paperwork just to spend the night in Argentina made me cringe. I glanced at my watch with the thought of riding north to join Henno, but it was almost dark (I don't ride at night).
I wasn't feeling terribly happy when I was approached by a border official. He was a grumpy looking fellow with Coke-bottle glasses and a Saddam Hussein moustache. He asked where I was going and I told him- back to Argentina. I explained that I needed a visa and had to go back to Posadas to get one. He immediately went to the immigration office and raised a little Hell. He explained that I was a citizen of the America's and should be able to enter an American country without a problem. They explained that I did indeed need a visa to enter Paraguay.
The man then invited me to his office which contained 4 or 5 guards and a 10 or 12 year old boy who stood outside; his head rested on the window sill like a smiling little pumkin. The jefe suddenly began to sing "Old Suzanna" and implored me to join him. Everyone was smiling as he began to through out every bit of english he new. The subject soon turned to Hollywood. He asked if I had seen this movie and that, and wondered which ones I liked. I gave a thumb's up or down as called out the names. "Pearl Harbor." Thumb's down. "Tora! Tora! Tora!" Thumb's up. He smiled. "Saving Private Ryan" Thumbs up. He nods. He then stood up and approached me as I was standing. His right hand reached up to my elbow. He pointed to a burly guard with his own Hussein moustache and a handgun on his hip. He sat there with his arms folded, leaning back in his chair. The jefe asked if I saw that man, "si" I replied. He then touched the tips of his index fingers to the corners of his eyes and drew them slowly down his cheeks, saying slowly and quietly in spanish, "he cried when he watched "Brokeback Mountain!" The whole room erupted in laughter with the man loudly declaring he'd never seen the movie. Even the boy was laughing and got a gentle swat across the top of his head by the man who was the butt-end of the joke.
The jefe then began on the paperwork for my motorcycle. He said he'd keep it for me until I returned the next day. He further apologized for the visa requirement and urged me to come back the next day to visit Paraguay. I shook hands with everyone (they followed me out to see the bike) and promised I'd be back the next day.
Paraguay is a wonderful country. There are many large areas of gentle, rolling hills and plenty of greenery. In Ascuncion I was picked up by a Horizon's member who showed me around the town. Though not affluent by any means, it was an enjoyable place and I enjoyed some nice food and a Capital far more laid back than most Capitals in South America. After Asuncion I rode east to Brazil.