I am still on the road in beautiful South America. Since my problems, which I have managed to overcome with much help from several kind and thoughtful travellers, I have been to Paraguay and back to Argentina. From Salta I headed to Posadas a quiet small city on the border with Paraguay for one night then across a small bridge by bus to Encarnación, south-east Paraguay. I couched surfed with a cool guy named Claudio and his friends for two nights and visited an early 18th Century Jesuit ruins, where Guarane Indians lived and worked, making rock carvings of nearby flora and fauna. After this I took a six hour night bus to Asunción, Paraguay’s capital where I stayed for three nights. I took a chance and just arrived at the only hostel around 7 am. Luckily the owner was home and for once did not ignore the door bell. A cool American named David from Oregon originally. Although he was busy organising the hostel, he gave me good directions to the city centre and to nearby shops and cafés, plus the park across from the hostel. Asunción was hot and humid, in the mid 30s. After my sweaty stay there, I planned to go north to Filadelfia, but due to heavy rain and the outbreak of Dengue Fever, which would kill me because I have very low immune system after my kidney transplant, I returned south to Argentina and once again Salta.
My one night in Salta was quiet with dinner in the city with a couple of girls from Canada, a guy from Poland and a Romanian guy. How times have changed travel wise, 10 years ago and maybe even only 5 years ago you would not have met many people from East Europe travelling and certainly not in South America.
Next I once again headed north, this time to a small town named Tilcara where I eventually stayed for four nights in a great small crazy hostel come house. Apart from the fact that the house permanently smelt of cigarette smoke it was lovely and the people great, warm and friendly. The small town is surrounded by hills, I spent my first evening walking around the centre, checked out the only plaza and eventually found a restaurant and had a steak. I met a lovely couple from Buenos Aires and they helped me order and kept me company and even dropped me back at the hostel. I spent my second day walking around and just relaxing, taking photos and enjoying the small market in the square. On my third day I went on a hike to Wider Cave, or Windy Cave. This was a four kilometre walk hike over rough rocky terrain with a cool native guide named Diego. He told me about the different plants and how one named Molle could be used in a bath to ease aches and muscle pains. We climbed and I stumbled hitting my knees and feet many times. At one point Diego had to drag me up an almost vertical incline. I had fun stepping over rocks and stretching my legs over rocks and huge stones. The trail twisted and turned and undulated constantly. It was hard work and I drank water constantly and huffed and puffed. Eventually after climbing up what seemed like hundreds of rocks and walking crablike between several stones with a huge drop on one side, we reached the cave. The first cave was quite large and we were able to stand. However, we then had to get on all fours and crawl through a narrow rock tunnel to reach the other side of the cave. Once I was able to almost stand, we climbed through a tiny window like gap and I was able to sit on a rock ledge and enjoy the open expanse with mountains in front and the cool air on my face. We returned the same way. and the descent with me constantly creating avalanches was even harder The sun appeared and later discovered I had been sun and wind burnt. Two days later I headed into Bolivia and my 58th country.
I had to take a bus from Tilcara to the Argentine border then find a bridge and walk into Bolivia. It was straightforward enough. Although once in Bolivia the atmosphere changed abruptly. People pushed and shoved, there was more noise and shops had their products for sale on the street. I was lucky enough to meet a lady and her boyfriend I had met briefly in Tilcara and they helped me find the bus station in Villasun where I caught a bus to Tupiza. Tupiza is the gateway to the Bolivian desert and the Salar salt flats. I head there tomorrow Monday 21st March for a four day Jeep tour of adventure and off-roading. It should be an exciting trip with much wildlife and fun. Tupiza has little to offer apart from a nice market and a small square and church. It’s a nice relaxing place for two nights and one day. Horse riding is available and some walks to nearby canyons.
More to come soon, Tony the Traveller