The circus and traveling at night in Asuncion

Getting back to town was easy this time, so we were back at the bus station in Asuncion before 6pm. We had seen all these posters about a Brazilian Circus being in town, and because we thought these things (circuses) were already extinct in most other parts of the world we decided we might as well check one out while here. We asked the lady at the information office (gosh, we should have known better by now) and she said there was one very near, 10 mins by bus. Upon getting there we realised that was just an amusement park, not a circus. The ticket guy informed us we’d find one 20mins away, the Mega Park he said, so we got another bus and arrived in the Mega Park minutes after the show had started.

The performance was entertaining mostly because of the dodgy location and ambiance, but it also had quite some good moments of show. The acrobats did have our heart stop for a few seconds and then laugh in relief, while the 3 motorcyclists at the end chasing eachother in a globe of metal got quite a few ‘wow’s and ‘waw’s from the public… and ok, from us too. Even though i’d seen that kind of performance before in China (where they’re even crazier, instead of 3 they were 4 or 5) I was still afraid until the last moment that it was gonna be a bloddy evening.

It wasn’t though, so we left the circus relieved and happy, just the way kids do:). It only lasted until we realised we had no idea how to get back to the hostel, and taking a taxi would have been pretty expensive. It was 8pm and already dark so we started to ask around for the best bus. The park’s security guard sent us 1km to the left, where he said we’d find the bus we needed. Hmmm… we should have suspected something was fishy when we smelt the alcohol on his breath :). Anyway, 1km on a deserted road later we came across 2 people waiting for something. Upon inquiring about the bus we were looking for they (obviously) said such a bus does not pass by there, and even if it did it would be useless because it didn’t go to our hostel. So they told us to go back, pass the circus, and get one from the other side.

We eventually made it to the station they had indicated and waited for what seemed like centuries. It was dark, deserted and as dodgy as it can get, so we were really praying for a bus to come as soon as possible. One did, and when we asked the driver he said he doesn’t go to the street we’re looking for, but passes by somewhere near. We got on and later turned to one of the guys behind us to ask if we were close. When he heard about our plan he said ‘Nooo… you shouldn’t do that, walking from where this bus drops you back to your hostel is dangerous at this time of night… you should get off soon on one of these roads to the right and take another bus from there’. By the time we discussed this, all the proper roads to the right had passed, so now that was not an option anymore.

“Ok, you should then come to the bus terminal and get a bus from there” he said. “There would be many. I’m going there as well so I can help you out”. The guy seemed trustworthy enough so we went along with his plan. We got to the bus terminal around 9.30pm and found the proper bus stop. We started chatting, Valerio telling us many things about Paraguay (especially about how corrupt the police is) and time passed and passed but no bus came. A dude selling sausages by the road side told us the last bus should be at 10, so we kept waiting …and waiting.

We had been trying to get back for 2 hours now and our reserves of patience were running dangerously low… The thought of getting a cab had already cornered in our mind, but we decided to give it a few more minutes after 10. When Valerio said he had to go buy himself a bus ticket from inside the terminal we knew it was time for us to leave as well. We surely found the area to be a pretty spooky place during the night…We got into the first cab that passed by. The moment we got in the driver turned towards us with a serious look on his face: ‘Never ever come back here at this time of night. This is a very dangerous place for women. It’s the red light district. Do NOT come here again so late!” After we got over the shock and promised him we would not be doing that again he put on a smile, started his engine and drove away. The car looked more like an old rusty box of metal than a vehicle, and we felt it was going to come apart any minute now. Obviously the windows didn’t close so we had natural air conditioning all the way. We drove in silence, half reflecting on the day and half praying this would be our last adventure and we’d be in our safe and comfortable beds soon.

At some point he turned on a street and said “This is it! What number are we looking for?” We told him the number and he proceeded very carefully, driving suber slowly and stopping at literally every building to check the number (even if we were still almost 100 numbers away). When we got to where our house should have been, surprise surprise! Of course that was not our hostel. It wasn’t even a building, it was just an empty space that looked like whatever had been there was recently torn down. Ok, hold on a second, what’s going on? How can this be?? We remembered clearly what the building looked like and we knew where on the street it should be… but now it wasn’t there!! Old scenes of Twilight Zone appeared in my mind (I knew I shouldn’t have watched that series as a child) and I honestly considered pinching myself to see if all this was still real.

We saw a pregnant lady on the sidewalk and the driver asked her if this was our street. She said “Yes”. We said “No, it can’t be!”. The driver said “Even she says yes… this is the street. Are you sure about the number?”. We had never been more sure about anything in our lives. We then saw another man nearby and he helped us clear the mistery – our street was the one parallel to this one. Oh man… seriously? The cab driver was very apologetic about it and very sweet in making sure we got into the hostel safely and we were not upset about him mixing up the streets. We appreciated his attitude a lot :).

We got inside our room and by this time Jess had arrived from Salta as well, so we shared stories about how our day had been and while now we could easily laugh about it, we all had the same thought: “Let’s leave for Encarnation first thing in the morning!” While heading back to the terminal the next day we passed by two police men with the biggest guns we had ever seen. They were standing by a petrol station, finger on the trigger, talking to each other while carefully scrutinizing the surroundings. We had no idea what they were all about (we had seen policemen in different colored uniforms at every corner in the past 2 days) but we had great fun throwing out ideas of what they would be doing there.

Our two days in Asuncion had definitely been a different kind of experience, and we continued our walk wondering what the rest of Paraguay would be like :).

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