3 border crossings in 3 days–Paraguay here we come

After using half a day at the Iguazu falls on the Brazilian side, we decided to cross the border into Argentina in the afternoon. We drove to the border, and in Brazil we got our exit stamp in our passport and exported our van. The immigration law in Brazil is different from all the other countries in South America. When we visited, we were allowed to stay for 90 days in total from the day we entered Brazil, which was on the 26th of April 2018. Even if we leave Brazil the 90 day visa will still be counting down. Also the law state, that it is only possible to get 90 days per year. This means that we were allowed to stay 90 days in Brazil from the 26th of April 2018, and will not be able to get a new 90 days visa until next year. Off course you can apply for an extension of the 90 days and get additional 90 days on your visa, which should not be a problem at one of the immigration offices in Brazil. Since we left Brazil on the 25th of June, we didn’t need to apply for an extension. Any way we got to the Argentinian border and got our immigration stamps in our passports allowing us to stay for 90 days, but we only had to visit the Iguazu falls. When we explained this the to employee at the custom (Aduana), he said, that we didn’t had to import our vehicle into Argentina as long as we would stay in the area of the town Puerto Iguazu and near the Iguazu waterfall. We took his word and drove into Argentina on the 22nd and stayed the next couple of days on a gas station in the area.

Looks pretty nice? It is all about the angle of the camera

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We had no doubt, that we were back in Argentina, the “Maté-culture” was back – even in the gym!

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Anyway the gas station was close to town, and Esben also found some Argentinian money, that he still had left. So why not spend it on a burger? We walked into town, and stopped at The Van Burger. What we also discovered, was that the value of our Argentinian had changed dramatically. When we left Argentina on the 17th of April 2018, 1 USD was worth 20 arg. pesos, when we returned 2 months later on the 22nd of June 2018, 1 USD was worth 30 arg. pesos. What a change! Since it was not worth exchanging our few arg. pesos we spend the rest of them on groceries before leaving.

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After spending 3 nights in Argentina we drove back to the border got our exit stamp in our passports, and where ready the enter Brazil. BUT, then we got pulled over by a new employee at the Argentinian custom, who wanted to see our import paper on the van. We explained the situation, and he got a little mad, but after 5 minutes we were back on the road, without making a big deal of it. From Argentina we crossed into Brazil again, because it is only possible to cross into Paraguay from Argentina by boat over the river “Rio Paraná”. On the Brazilian side we again got our entry stamp in the passport, and where allowed not the import our van, as long as we would leave Brazil and enter Paraguay on the same day. So after crossing into Brazil we drove north to cross into Paraguay. No problem with anything, we got our exit stamp in our passport in Brazil (no trouble with the van), and drove into Paraguay, where we got our entry stamp in our passports and imported the van. Everything went really easy, except that it had started rainy heavily, when we drove into Ciudad del Este in Paraguay. We are out of Brazil, and are not coming back, at least not on this trip, so check out how much money we spend on fuel, food and activities here: “Expenses in Brazil (60 days of travel in a van)”.

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Maté is also big here in Paraguay, but here they rather drink it cold than warm. They call it tererê, which comes from the Guarani language. It is an infusion of yerba mate similar to mate but prepared with cold water and ice rather than with hot, and in a slightly larger vessel. First invented by the Guaraní natives who lived in Paraguay and western Brazil (Mato Grosso do Sul). Tereré was spread by the dwellers of that region, and for centuries was a social beverage. People usually prepare one jar of natural water and a “guampa” (the cup) with a “bombilla” (the metal straw) which is shared among the group of people. Paraguay and Mato Grosso do Sul have a very hot climate, this drink is believed to refresh the body and can be a very low-calorie, non-alcoholic beverage. Additionally, it is an important ritual signifying trust and communion (Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terer%C3%A9). Some drink it without sugar, and some like it very sweet. We still agree, that maté is not our thing, but we like the cold tererê the best.

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Cuidad del Este (“the city of the east”) has a big tax free zone, in Spanish called “zona franca”, due to this the city is the world’s third-largest commercial center, behind only Miami and Hong Kong (Source: http://www.nationsencyclopedia.com/economies/Americas/Paraguay.html#ixzz5OrCoAbYW). The city was founded in 1957 by Paraguays president Alfredo Stroessner, who also built the highway from the capital Asuncion to Cuidad del Este and the friendship bridge that now connects Paraguay and Brazil. Today it is the second largest city in Paraguay, with a population of 575,000 inhabitants At its peak in the 1990’s the city moved 10 billion USD per ear in merchandise, which is more than Paraguay’s entire gross domestic product (GDP is the monetary value of all the finished goods and services produced within a country’s borders in a specific time period). In city opens up at 6 am in the morning and everything closes down in the afternoon at 4 pm, where the city needs to be cleaned up after a hole day of trading.

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It was to late for shopping today, so we drove towards the Mallorqiun, where several Danish people live. Stopped at the side of the road, and bought a big cheese! 10,000 PYG per kilo (1,73 USD or 11 DDK).

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Finally in Paraguay! Meet the Danish colony in the next post…

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