Challenges on the way to Rio de Janeiro, via Paraguay

Looking for the best option of getting to Rio

Seeing the Iguazu Falls was going to be the last thing we did in Argentina, so we were now ready to head towards the loooong expected Rio de Janeiro. We checked the buses and realised the next one from Puerto Iguazu (430 pesos) was only 3 days later. Not keen on waiting for days, we looked for alternatives: Foz de Iguazu (the Brazilian city closest to the border) for 580 pesos, 2 days later, and Ciudad del Este (the Paraguayan city closest to the border) for 265 Pesos, the next day. Talk about a HUGE price difference!!

The 5 hour trip from Ciudad del Este to Puerto Iguazu was still very fresh in our minds, but the price combined with the fact that it was the only one the next day didn’t give us much choice. So we spent  that day by the pool of our hostel (yup, the hostel actually had a small pool!), chilling, writing and enjoying an ‘off’ day after a long while of non-stop moving. Our bus from Ciudad del Este was going to be the next day at 2pm, so we planned on taking the 9am bus towards Paraguay.

 

Paraguayan officers being difficult

The funny thing when going from Argentina to Paraguay or the other way around is that you actually pass through Brazil, but without stopping. You don’t get any stamps in your passport, so it’s as if you were never there. Pretty funny idea. Anyway, when we first did the trip from Paraguay to Argentina we had no problems at the border, but when we came the other way the officers at the Paraguayan customs refused to give us the stamp for entering the country. The reason: we didn’t have a stamp for exiting Brazil. Together with us were two other backpacker couples and we were all given the same story, then sent to the Brazil border to get ourselves an exit stamp.

This would have meant getting off the bus with all our things, taking a taxi back to Brazil and then back into Ciudad del Este. It was ridiculous, even more so because we had done this just a few days before, but in the opposite direction. The other two couples left but we refused to, and kept pointing out there’s no way we should need an exit stamp from Brazil since we didn’t have an entry one in the first place!

The bus driver was with us and tried to help out a bit, but soon gave up. I was shocked at that, as surely he had been faced with this kind of situation before? I mean he’s doing this every single day, and if so far there had been no issues it means there shouldn’t be any, and on the other hand if this had happened before, then he should have known how to deal with it by now. One would imagine at least. But of course my imagination had nothing to do with reality.

The officer who seemed to be the boss was very adamant about not giving us the entry stamp, so we went to his subordinate and explained the situation clearly. Again. In the end we got the damn stamps and while walking back to the bus we met the other 4 guys, who were getting ready to go back to the Brazilian border. We told them to go back in for the stamps and two of them actually got them on the spot, while 2 had to go back later, but in the end everything worked out well for us all. Lesson learned (or rather reiterated): never give up on your rights, especially when you know for a fact you’re not in the wrong.

 

Making friends on the way

And this was how we got to meet Jack and Carrie: chatting about all this nonsense when we were back on the bus. We soon realised they were going to Rio by the same route we were, so we became travel companions for the next 20 hours. They were travelling around the world for half a year after their graduation and Rio was their last stop. We very much enjoyed their forever happy and lively nature :). On the bus to Rio we met another 3 brits, Lewis, James and Laura, and even though initially we had all had different plans about which part of Rio to stay in, by the time we got off the bus we had decided we’d all go together to Botafogo, to a hostel the 3 guys had heard good things about.

 

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