Register | Login
Attackpoint - performance and training tools for orienteering athletes

Training Log Archive: blairtrewin

In the 1 days ending Nov 12, 2014:

activity # timemileskm+m
  Run1 42:00 4.97(8:27) 8.0(5:15)
  Total1 42:00 4.97(8:27) 8.0(5:15)

» now

Wednesday Nov 12, 2014 #


Forgot to mention yesterday's thought-I'd-taken-a-wrong-turn-and-ended-up-in-Hanoi department: seeing a woman breastfeeding while riding pillion on a motorbike.
7 AM

Run 42:00 [3] 8.0 km (5:15 / km)

North this time, on a circuit which involved, for much of its length, the boundaries of the army base (i.e. no significant road crossings - always a plus in South American traffic). Got out a bit further into the suburbs too, partly in search of a road through on Google Maps that didn't exist in reality, and came quite close to the impressive local mosque which caters for the quite substantial Arab population here (I wonder if this generates the sort of paranoia in Brazil that it does in Australia these days?). Not a particularly good run - certainly a step down on yesterday. Quite humid.

I'd expected today to be the most challenging and adventurous of the trip in a travel-logistics sense. There weren't any suitably timed through buses from Foz to Asuncion so I had to get myself across to the bus station in Ciudad del Este.

For those who haven't been paying attention, Ciudad del Este is the city on the Paraguayan side of the border, which got its start as the main construction town for the Itaipu Dam but, once that was done, became a "free zone" (I suspect, in part, because the then-still-a-dictatorship Paraguay wanted to make life difficult for the not-a-dictatorship-any-more Brazil). It's truly a city of superlatives. 90% of goods sold in the city counterfeit! World's largest stolen car supermarket! Estimated value of goods smuggled through city each year approximately five times Paraguay's official GDP! Sounds all very Wild West and is (although the wild westness is confined to a relatively small area near the bridge, where Brazilians come in their droves to avoid their country's import taxes), though I gather it isn't a particularly dangerous place, at least if you're not in the business of trying to close down any of the aforementioned rackets (and nobody in a position of relevant authority seems to be; one of the pieces I read before arriving was about how the provincial governor of the time was facing a, probably half-hearted, investigation after being unable to explain the existence of a clandestine airstrip and two unmarked planes on his property).

The challenge with the border crossing is its porousness. Locals (officially) and anyone else (unofficially) can cross freely between the two sides of the border as long as they don't go beyond the border towns, which means that if you need the relevant stamps to go further (and without them, you will probably get a fine, or possibly a "fine", when you try to leave the country), you need to go to some effort to get them, and local transport's not geared up for that. The procedure was therefore: get bus heading across border (there's one every couple of minutes), show passport to driver and do some stamping gestures to let it be known you need to get out at the Brazil exit post, do so, walk across the bridge (I could have got back on the bus but the traffic was so slow I was walking faster), find Paraguay immigration (I'd been led to believe this was tricky, but it wasn't), go through, find the taxi drivers on the other side, employ one's very limited Spanish to bargain the fare to the bus station down from an ambit claim 100,000 (about $25) to a that's-more-like-it 40,000, and on you go. It all worked far more smoothly than I expected it to, and for good measure there was a bus leaving for Asuncion 15 minutes after I got to the bus station, so I was there by 4, much earlier than expected.

The trip across the south end of Paraguay was a bit of a mixed bag. It's clearly a poorer country than southern Brazil - lots of shacks (and a few living under tarpualins), muddy side roads and chickens wandering the open space (definitely none on the bus, though) - but one also occasionally saw big commercial-style farms and signs with the names of the giants of international agribusiness (I'm guessing that Paraguay has a GM crop-friendly legal regime?). There has been a lot of rain lately (270mm in Asuncion in the last two weeks, 60 of it yesterday); everything was very green, the streams were running strongly and the low ground was clearly saturated. It wouldn't take a lot more to kick off another flood here, in a part of the world which has already seen disastrous flooding once this year (depending on which figures you read, somewhere around 10-20% of Asuncion's population was displaced by the mid-year floods, and I'm guessing that not all have yet made it home).

Seem to have found a decent place to stay in, in a residential area whose only negative seems to be a lack of local restaurants; I guess it's a sufficiently poor country that people don't eat out much.

« Earlier | Later »