Adióp, Paraguay! and Que Tal Che, Argentina!

17 01 2009

From the roadside in Northeastern Argentina I send you all saludos and wish you the best!

Here’s what’s up in my neck of the city:

1) VIDEO from Paraguay! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8AOQofCkAhk
2) We have reached approximately 1.5% of the $100,000 fundraising goal with plenty of time to keep fundraising. Big thanks to all of you who have donated! The Paraguayan non-profits told me to tell you “¡Muchisimas Gracias!” Donations can me made quickly and safely through the link on http://www.RideForTheTrees.com
3) RideForTheTrees.com is now using a TravelStash blog so you can visualize the route and even zoom in on satellite photos… Check it out! http://www.travelstash.com/ride-for-the-trees/rideforthetreescom-environmental-bicycle-tour-through-the-americas/
4)I have been wondering… without Guarani (the charming language that it is) would it be as easy to find friendly people to stay with in “Casteshano”-speaking Argentina as it was in Paraguay? So far so good! See the attached photo for tonight’s campsite in my new university friends’ backyard here in Posadas, Argentina. Looky there, that’s the tent behind us.
5) After a week or so off, due to getting my backpack stolen, complete with passport, wallet, camera, and cell pone, among other things, I am back on the road with replacements… viva Argentina!

Wow, I’ve been cycling around Paraguay for about a month (and lived there 2 years), and now it is behind me. So I feel like I should try to summarize it for you. For travellers, for touring cyclists, and for curious folks the world over.

The first two things that come to mind are that Paraguay is a country on fire—everything seems to be on fire: trash, piles of leaves, forests– and the people setting those fires are probably the most hospitable, friendly folks you’ll never meet.

Paraguayan summers are HOT.

Central Paraguay, in the Cordillera, is home to rainbows in the clouds, like cartoons. What? Yep, just what I said. When I was riding around Cordillera, Paraguay, I saw rainbows in the clouds all the time. I don’t know why this would be the case, but residents tell me it is not uncommon in that area.

The roads are better than you’d expect in Paraguay. I rarely saw a pothole I could not avoid. But there are these speed bumps every few meters along the shoulders of many a highway, probably to keep motorcycles from passing on the shoulder… be careful early morning and late afternoon when tree and light post shadows are long and can camouflage the speed bumps that sometimes seem to come out of nowhereBAM! Poverty abounds in Paraguay, but so do mansions and elaborate casinos and hotels. Guarani is an amazing language! Ah, I could talk about Paraguay all day long… I miss it already. I miss the United States too, and perhaps soon I’ll miss Argentina, but Paraguay and the people there (locals and volunteers!) will always have a special place in my heart. Chau Paraguay, rohayhu!





From the SAN RAFAEL RESERVE to Encarnacion, ARGENTINA

10 01 2009

The ride has officially begun!

It was another of many mini-adventures, to say the least, putting my trusty bicycle through the first heavy storm of the trip… complete with hail, horizontal rains, and winds so strong my bamboo flagpole snapped in half. But Skinny Horse and I managed to roll into Procosara’s post in the San Rafael Reserve on January 1st, just in time to hear the rains are helping extinguish the many forest fires that were set on purpose.

This is unbelievable:

The national tree of Paraguay (Lapacho), usually blooms yellow or pink flowers. Only 1 in 50,000 Lapachos blooms white flowers. Last year there were only three white Lapachos in the entire San Rafael reserve. Now, with so much deforestation only one white Lapacho can be found. The photo is attached.

The people responsible for destroying the last 7% of this forest are routinely reported to authorities, but corruption, bribes, and threats run so rampant in this area that actual legal action is as rare as a sighting of the endangered “Jaku Peti” bird.

I’ve got to hit the road now, but I’ll update you again soon! As always thank you for your support, interest, and encouragement!

Sincerely,

Samuel





Bussing and Pedalling from Asuncion to San Rafael for the official start, and backpack theft

2 01 2009

Pre-tour training has already become one of the most incredible adventures of my life. Here’s the lowdown:

-Visited more than 10 Peace Corps Volunteers in their amazing sites, bicycling off the map a few times.

-Visited some of the biggest waterfalls in the world, Iguasu Falls, on the border of Brasil and Argentina.
-BOB Trailer got gently hit by a car in Ciudad del Este’s heavy traffic. Good ol’ BOB, no damage done.
-Crossed from Paraguay to Brazil, to Argentina, and back to Paraguay again. For the last border crossing, this morning, it was especially adventurous. Picture this: After getting my backpack stolen, which had my passport and my Paraguayan Visa inside, I had to plot, scheme, and 007 my way across the Posadas-Ecarnacion bridge.
-The Iguazu Falls were incredible, so sorry my camera was stolen.

FOR TOURING CYCLISTS:
1) Crossing from Ciudad del Este, Paraguay to Iguasu, Argentina through Brasil without a Brasilian Visa was no problem for me.
2) Spare spokes work like a charm to fashion replacement BOB trailer pins.
3) You cannot ride across the bridge between Encarnacion, Paraguay and Posadas, Argentina, but hitching a ride in the back of a truck was easy. Buses or a ferry (lancha) are also an option.

FOR MY FRIENDS AND FAMILY: In addition to some important pieces of equipment, when my backpack was stolen I also lost my cell phone and address book so please email me your phone/address information so I can call you and send postcards.