Friday, 5 February 2010

A dam fine day out

Trivia question - what are the only 2 landlocked countries in South America?

TUESDAY 2 FEBRUARY – Over breakfast I suggest maybe we should spend the morning over in Paraguay visiting the dam as they have free tours. Gathering information is hard but it seems we are better to complete border formalities as we are going beyond the border city. We leave our bags stored at the hotel and take an NSA bus, $3.70 (£1.35) towards Ciudad Del Este. We hop off to complete the Brazilian exit formalities and rather than wait for another bus walk over the bridge and into PARAGUAY. They are not
interested in stamping us into the country because we are not staying overnight so in fact need not have done the Brazilian exit bit (duff information). Ciudad Del Este is the cheapest place in South America for buying electrical goods but many are fake or don’t work well.

After walking the main street we pick up a bus going out to the dam. Instead of a chicken bus this is a pineapple bus with crates of them piled in the aisle. We’ve no local currency so guess the fare and give the conductor R5$5 ($1.75) to cover us both expecting him to ask for more but in fact it is obviously too much as he is extremely happy. You have to walk about 500 metres to the visitor centre and arrive at 11.30am only to find it is 10.30am and the morning tour left at 10am and the next tour is in 3 ½ hours at 2pm. The receptionist is very helpful and suggests we spend time at the nearby free zoo and even arranges a free mini bus to take us there.

The zoo was created to house the animals rescued from the flooding. Time for a high horse moment, why rescue them then trap them in very small cages when they could have been relocated to another area where the same species live? It is moderately interesting to see along with the stuffed animal exhibition and a bit of history about the native people. The 1 ½ km walk back to the dam is a killer in the heat with me making use of my umbrella for shade.

The tour begins with a movie in English (for us and a Japanese lad) and another in Spanish for about 100 other people. On the bus we are taken to the spillway with more water gushing out than I have ever seen in my life – an incredible sight. Crossing below the dam wall we see the massive tubes through which water falls to the turbines. There is another viewing point opposite the spillway then a drive over the dam and spillway back to the visitor centre. We are both really impressed with what we have seen. On the bus back to the city the conductor happily accepts R$2 (70p) for the 2 of us. We walk back over the bridge and complete formalities to re enter BRAZIL. Catch the local bus R$2.20 (70p) back to the terminal. So had we not taken the expensive bus to the border and overpaid on the first Paraguayan bus our whole trip would have cost only R$12.80 (£4.50), a much more interesting option than visiting on the Brazilian side. It is late when we get back, around 6pm, and the receptionist suggest we stay overnight and induces us with a price of R$70 (£25). Must say it is wonderful to collapse into the swimming pool,

Trivia answer - Bolivia & Paraguay

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