After our exploits in the campo hopping world, we unfortunately had to head back to Asunción before spliting ways. We settled back down in our favorite house in Paraguay, . Ryan and Tom were flying back to Seattle, Richie and Andrea were getting back to work, and my bokkie and I had to decide where we wanted to stick around. Over the next few days we spent dozens of hours looking and emailing about teaching in Argentina, Chile, Paraguay, or Brazil. Unfortunately I was also very distracted by all the World Cup games going on which were constantly showing in the hostel, but we had plenty of music to play, drinks to be consumed and tereré to help pass the day.
Before our good-byes, we spent our last days together playing music, hanging out, and sharing some of the videos and photos we took during our month together. Richie and Andrea still had some places to show us in Asuncion; they planned for us to have a long walk downtown towards the waterfront and the port. We took our time strolling along, checking out the grungy feel Asunción has downtown, old buildings, markets, military trainees, and the port in general. Then they took us to one of the coolest neighborhoods in Asunción, the hilltop overlooking the port. Apparently they were still recovering from some really heavy flooding not long before – whole neighborhoods were underwater, unfortunately the poorest part of the city where they really can’t afford that kind of damage. However, there were dozens of colorful little shops and cafes with a lot of murals on the street walls, and it was really gorgeous to walk around in the fading sun. They eventually led us to a tiny rooftop cafe, near club San Geronimo but neither of us can quite place the name; we pulled a table together, ordered a few drinks, and watched our last Paraguyan sunset as a group.
The next day I had an honestly morose time saying goodbye to Ryan and Tom before they got into their ride to the airport, and we concluded our South America adventure with very manly bear hugs and slightly trembling tear ducts. A few short hours later Richie and Andrea also had to take off so we thanked them for their hospitality, and promised we’d try to meet up again soon as we’d likely only be a thousand kilometers away whichever way the compass may blow.
Now, a week to access a few dozen cities to possibly move to is obviously far from enough time. But we poured over hundreds of blogs, articles, groups, and websites. Unfortunately because of the short amount of time we didn’t get many responses to our emails. We did hear from a few people that the Argentinian peso was still slipping and we talked to an English teacher who implored us not to move to Buenos Aires because of the increasing cost of living. Chile seemed even more difficult to research, and it didn’t seem that Asuncion had a very competitive market for English teachers. After a lot of discussion we finally decided Brazil was the most economically secure, and that work was readily available. We heard from dozens of blogs and teachers that São Paulo was definitely the easiest place to get your foot in the door, and it didn’t hurt that it’s the financial capital of Brazil.
Since I already had a visa for Brazil (Lise, as she is known in Brazil, doesn’t), the next part was super easy: buying direct tickets to Sao Paulo at the main bus terminal, saying by to Javier at the hostel and repacking our bags for the last leg of our journey. For better or for worse we grabbed another meal of delicious empanadas at the bus terminal and got settled. Our only issue was at the border at Ciudad del Este with the stamps in our passports. We kept trying to insist that when we crossed into Paraguay a couple of weeks ago not only was the border checkpoint closed late at night but it was unmanned. Thus it had been impossible for us to get a stamp. They said this was impossible and seemed to imply that we had snuck into the country. Basically it was a shakedown, they wouldn’t let us pass and the bus driver was threatening to leave, they asked us for a fee. When we said we didn’t have the amount they wanted in cash they asked what we did have. No receipt, no pity, and the “fee” was about the same cost of buying a new bus ticket if we were left behind so we coughed up. Other than that the trip was uneventful. After sleeping throughout the night we came to in the main bus terminal at the Tietê bus terminal and stepped off the bus into Brasil, from where we will be sharing more adventures, stories and funny & confusing anecdotes. One part culture shock, one part exciting exploits, and four parts experimentation & learning.