From La Paz I headed down to Santa Cruz, Bolivia`s southern city, and then caught a bus to Santa Cruz in the South of Bolivia.
Santa Cruz was warm and tropical, and the trees were covered in lush broad green leaves. I found my way to the bus station and booked my ticket to Ascuncion, the capital of Paraguay. I approached the bus ride with some trepidation. I had read some online reviews where it was frequently referred to as a `bus ride from hell´. One former passenger desribed it as a 28 hour bus journey from hell where the bus stalled in the mud for hours and he nearly broke down crying at times on the way. BOOK A PLANE he urged in all caps. But flights were nearly as expensive as flights to New York, and the bus is a fraction of the price, so the bus it was. I stocked by bag full of drinks and snacks, charged my kobo and I braced myself as I settled in to the bus, an older model that rattled and squeaked as we set off from the bus station.
Before long I drifted off to sleep and woke in the morning for our Bolivian exit border post where we went through the usual formailities and then we were off again. When we go to Paraguayan border the guard looked at my passport like I was someone from another planet, I guess they don`t get many New Zealanders in these parts of the woods. But before long we were off again. The Paraguayan countryside is green and lush. My Lonely Planet informs me that Paraguay has about 675 bird species. I counted about 14 species from my bus window.
I napped and read, and the afternoon rolled around. I was surprised when we parked up and started unloading in Ascuncion at just before 5pm. We were well ahead of time, the journey had taken only 21 hours. I headed to my hostel and settled in. It was lovely, surrounded by tropical plants and it had a pool. The journey to Ascuncion had been perfectly fine.
I spent the next day in leafy Ascuncion getting through some chores. Asuncion has the most lovely climate, it was balmy, and there are lots of lovely trees for shade and cool breezes that stop it ever becoming too hot. In between my errands, I also stopped in at a small museum in the ´casa de la independencia´. This is the building where the fiesty Paraguayans had decided to become the first country on the American continent to declare their independence. There was also a lot of colourful street art in Ascuncion. After getting organised for the day I sorted out my bus ticket for the following day, a shorter trip this time, to Paraguay´s neighbour Brazil!