PARAGUAY: So we had a quick 2.5 hours in Paraguay. From Foz De Iguazu in Brazil we went on a day trip where we first visited a massive dam which powers 75% of Brazil and about 30% of Paraguay. We went on a 1.5 hour guided bus tour to see the dam, the biggest hydro electric dam in the world. It is on the border of Paraguay and Brazil but we enter from Brazil. Afterwards we head to Paraguay. So us Australians have to pay a lot of money for a visa to enter Paraguay so we all enter illegally through the chaos that is the border crossing. No one is checking visas or passports and it’s a chaotic tragic jam of taxis, vans, buses and many many motorbikes. The town we are in Ciadad Del Este is known for Duty free shopping and electronic goods. We are dropped off at a shopping centre and have 2 hours to shop. We quickly head out to the streets and the markets which is madness. A number of us are looking for soccer jerseys. (There’s a Columbia player called James so I want his shirt with my name on the back). The next hour we wander aimlessly avoiding guys trying to sell us everything from socks (fuck off it’s hot and we are wearing flip flops!) to tasers (where they creep up behind us and zap it). We are unsuccessful in finding jerseys and me Ryan Perry and Julz find a quietish restaurant to sit at and enjoy a beer (the only money I spend in Paraguay). We then head back to the shopping centre and wander around aimlessly again. We get a free absinthe shot which is horrible! At 4pm we board our vans and it’s a slow ride back across the border in traffic. So no passport stamp, no wristband, no souvenirs from Paraguay but can say I have been smuggled in illegally to a country!
ARGENTINA. Salta. We get up super early to leave Uyuni and head to the Argentina border. We get up early (5.30) so we can be first in line at the border when it opens. We are one of the first but it takes about 4 hours until we are back in the truck leaving. Apparently the border control is known for being slow and causing problems. The Argentinian Peso and the US dollar are weird here. The US dollar is illegal but the standard exchange rate is 1US:8.2P however you can exchange on the “black market” at a rate of 1US:13P which we do at the border, and which will work out better for us. We have a long drive for the rest of the day and arrive at Loki Hostel before dinner. It is nothing like the last Loki and we are all quite suprised and happy that it is not as busy or loud. 8 of us boys are in a dorm together. All of meals are covered by Tucan for the 2 full days we have here. There’s a big bar area with Pool, Table Tennis, Fusball, internet, tvs and a pool outside (but water is too cold to swim). There’s happy hour and the first night gets messy with Drenga and Beer Pong and shots. Girls get bitchy and there’s tears and fights which I avoid by dancing and hanging out with Kirsty most of the night. The next morning there’s a few headaches and hangovers. But today we have a wicked excision. Majority of us are picked up at 9am and take a 30 minute ride to a ranch. We get geared up with a horse each and head out on a 3 hour horse ride. I havnt ridden a horse since god knows when but the horses follow each other and do the same route numerous times a day so all we have to do is hold on. The ride is just along dirt roads so it’s not overly exciting. We do get a chance to go for a gallop though. When we get back to the ranch we have in unlimited supply of red (doh) wine and the best BBQ meats and salads I’ve maybe ever had. There was about 15 different salads and we made the mistake of filling up on those. Then we had a gourmet sausage followed by the tastiest pieces of steaks ever. Throw in some ribs as well but the steak just kept coming and coming until eventually we ate all the meat they had. We literally had to force the meat in an swallow and didn’t want to waste it cause it was so good! After lunch we all walk outside and collapse on the lawn, in a food coma. Lying on each other and with bugs crawling on us, too full to move. We lay there in the sun for over an hour while others continue drinking wine. Eventually our transfer arrives and we head back to the hostel where we are all exhausted and still in food comas. We continue to drink as play beer pong and other games but it’s not as messy as the night before. We make friends with some of the bar staff, I like Marcos cause everytime I get another drink I ask him to play another snoop dogg song and he always does! (Much to the dislike of all the English people who are listening to shitty English songs no one outside England have heard of). The next morning some people go on a day trip rafting but I’ve already done it in Ecuador so save my money. Spend the morning sitting in the sun by the pool. A few of us catch a local bus into Salta but it’s Sunday and almost everything is closed. Also most shops close for a Siesta between 1.30-5pm so those that are open close during this time anyways. We find a pharmacy for a few supplies, an ATM, and then grab a tasty icecream before working out which bus to get back to the hostel. Back in the arvo as we start drinking Rum Slushies during happy hour and take advantage of Tucan paying for all our meals. The others arrive back from rafting after 6 and it’s a pretty low key night, a few drinks and games but we are leaving at 6am the next day so everyone is in bed by about midnight. The next day is a long drive day, leaving the hostel at 6am. We stop at a gas station for lunch on the way, and pull over at another gas station about 5pm which we camp behind for the night. Pasta dinner with wine and cheeses and in bed about 11 ready to leave at 6am the next day. Another early morning as we head to Foz De Igauzu, which is on the Argentinian side of Iguazu Falls. We stop at some ruins for lunch and then keep driving to the hostel which we get to about 5pm. Me Julz and James get a 4 person dorm instead of the 16 room that most people are in (why we got that we don’t know). We head out for a nice dinner. Me dan and the twins share a meet grill. I try black pudding and kidneys and hate both. The next day we spend at Iguazu Falls on the Argentinian side. Everyone is fucking around in the morning so me and Julz catch the bus to the falls and meet up with everyone there. There’s a number of different treks, and lots of waterfalls. We take lots of photos. At 12.20 most of us go on a boat ride on the river where we go under some of the falls and get absolutely drenched! I missed out on doing the boat ride at Niagara (season closed a day before I got there) so happy to pay for the boat an I loved it! We spend a few more hours looking at the falls and taking photos before catching bus back to the hostel. Me Julz and James go out for a buffet dinner for last night in Argentina. Then head back to the hostel for a few drinks and chill with everyone. Here we find out a bunch if people have had their accounts hacked/cards skimmed whilst in Peru. Not sure if mine was done or not..
+http://survivingwithjames.tumblr.com/post/95580687155/argentina-salta-we-get-up-super-early-to-leave

survivingwithjames:

ARGENTINA.
Salta.
We get up super early to leave Uyuni and head to the Argentina border. We get up early (5.30) so we can be first in line at the border when it opens. We are one of the first but it takes about 4 hours until we are back in the truck leaving. Apparently the border control is…

ARGENTINA.
Salta.
We get up super early to leave Uyuni and head to the Argentina border. We get up early (5.30) so we can be first in line at the border when it opens. We are one of the first but it takes about 4 hours until we are back in the truck leaving. Apparently the border control is known for being slow and causing problems.
The Argentinian Peso and the US dollar are weird here. The US dollar is illegal but the standard exchange rate is 1US:8.2P however you can exchange on the “black market” at a rate of 1US:13P which we do at the border, and which will work out better for us. We have a long drive for the rest of the day and arrive at Loki Hostel before dinner.
It is nothing like the last Loki and we are all quite suprised and happy that it is not as busy or loud. 8 of us boys are in a dorm together.
All of meals are covered by Tucan for the 2 full days we have here. There’s a big bar area with Pool, Table Tennis, Fusball, internet, tvs and a pool outside (but water is too cold to swim).
There’s happy hour and the first night gets messy with Drenga and Beer Pong and shots. Girls get bitchy and there’s tears and fights which I avoid by dancing and hanging out with Kirsty most of the night.
The next morning there’s a few headaches and hangovers. But today we have a wicked excision.
Majority of us are picked up at 9am and take a 30 minute ride to a ranch. We get geared up with a horse each and head out on a 3 hour horse ride. I havnt ridden a horse since god knows when but the horses follow each other and do the same route numerous times a day so all we have to do is hold on. The ride is just along dirt roads so it’s not overly exciting. We do get a chance to go for a gallop though. When we get back to the ranch we have in unlimited supply of red (doh) wine and the best BBQ meats and salads I’ve maybe ever had. There was about 15 different salads and we made the mistake of filling up on those. Then we had a gourmet sausage followed by the tastiest pieces of steaks ever. Throw in some ribs as well but the steak just kept coming and coming until eventually we ate all the meat they had. We literally had to force the meat in an swallow and didn’t want to waste it cause it was so good!
After lunch we all walk outside and collapse on the lawn, in a food coma. Lying on each other and with bugs crawling on us, too full to move. We lay there in the sun for over an hour while others continue drinking wine. Eventually our transfer arrives and we head back to the hostel where we are all exhausted and still in food comas.
We continue to drink as play beer pong and other games but it’s not as messy as the night before. We make friends with some of the bar staff, I like Marcos cause everytime I get another drink I ask him to play another snoop dogg song and he always does! (Much to the dislike of all the English people who are listening to shitty English songs no one outside England have heard of).
The next morning some people go on a day trip rafting but I’ve already done it in Ecuador so save my money. Spend the morning sitting in the sun by the pool. A few of us catch a local bus into Salta but it’s Sunday and almost everything is closed. Also most shops close for a Siesta between 1.30-5pm so those that are open close during this time anyways. We find a pharmacy for a few supplies, an ATM, and then grab a tasty icecream before working out which bus to get back to the hostel.
Back in the arvo as we start drinking Rum Slushies during happy hour and take advantage of Tucan paying for all our meals. The others arrive back from rafting after 6 and it’s a pretty low key night, a few drinks and games but we are leaving at 6am the next day so everyone is in bed by about midnight.
The next day is a long drive day, leaving the hostel at 6am.
We stop at a gas station for lunch on the way, and pull over at another gas station about 5pm which we camp behind for the night. Pasta dinner with wine and cheeses and in bed about 11 ready to leave at 6am the next day.
Another early morning as we head to Foz De Igauzu, which is on the Argentinian side of Iguazu Falls.
We stop at some ruins for lunch and then keep driving to the hostel which we get to about 5pm. Me Julz and James get a 4 person dorm instead of the 16 room that most people are in (why we got that we don’t know).
We head out for a nice dinner. Me dan and the twins share a meet grill. I try black pudding and kidneys and hate both.
The next day we spend at Iguazu Falls on the Argentinian side.
Everyone is fucking around in the morning so me and Julz catch the bus to the falls and meet up with everyone there.
There’s a number of different treks, and lots of waterfalls. We take lots of photos. At 12.20 most of us go on a boat ride on the river where we go under some of the falls and get absolutely drenched! I missed out on doing the boat ride at Niagara (season closed a day before I got there) so happy to pay for the boat an I loved it!
We spend a few more hours looking at the falls and taking photos before catching bus back to the hostel.
Me Julz and James go out for a buffet dinner for last night in Argentina. Then head back to the hostel for a few drinks and chill with everyone. Here we find out a bunch if people have had their accounts hacked/cards skimmed whilst in Peru. Not sure if mine was done or not..

BOLIVIA We are all quite relieved to be leaving Peru. Spent a month there and ready to move on. La Paz. We leave Puno early and have a long day on the truck. We reach the border about 10.30am and it’s hectic. After exchanging money we all line up for close to an hour to get our exit stamp from Peru. We the cross a bridge into Bolivia and then have to line up for another hour to get our entrance stamps into Bolivia. Eventually we are back on the truck and shortly after stop on the side of the road next to Lake Titicaca for lunch. I’m still feeling stomach pains so don’t eat much. Back on the truck everyone up the front watches Hot Fuzz on Nathan’s laptop. Afterwards it’s a few peoples last days so we play some Say My Name, Dilemma, Tipsy, Sean Paul, Where Is The Love etc and have a few shots and Cuba Libre’s while singing along. ( strangely the Cuba Libre’s make my stomach pains disappear!) We have to transfer on to a smaller bus for a further 30 mins to our hotel. We don’t arrive till close to 7.30 (we have put our clocks forward an hour an in Bolivia too). Me Julz and Perry are sharing a decent room which is good. We head to a local bar for a talk by a lady for Death Road. Then go to a group dinner but it’s close to 10pm by the time we actually eat. Not many people can be bothered going out for more drinks so we head back to the hotel and bed for a good nights sleep! The next day we are picked up from our hotel at 8am to go cycling down Death Road. Out guide Marcus is from Melbourne and been taking yours for 3 years down death road. It’s about 45 minutes till we get to the start of the ride, which is 18kms on a bitumen road. To my shock, and everyone else’s, there’s snow everywhere at the top/start. We rug up and are given a jacket, pants, helmet and gloves to wear. We are assigned bikes to use for the day. They are downhill mountain bikes worth over $3000 each! There’s 15 of us on the tour today and we have spent a bit more money to go with a reputable company. 2 girls have died in the last week cycling death road and a few more earlier this year. There are cheaper and dodgier companies but doing something called Death Road is not where you wanna be a tightass. There first 18kms is on road around big mountains covered in snow. There’s lots of other riders and cars and trucks and buses too. We stop at a lookout and see a bus at the bottom of the cliff that has fallen off with no survivors. After the 18kms we get to a checkpoint and have to pay 25 Bolivianos and then we hop back on the bus (which is following us all day with water, our backpacks, spare bikes etc) and we drive for 8kms uphill to the start off the dirt road part of Death Road. We have around 40 more kms down the dirt part of death road. We stop every 5-10 minutes for photos and for our guide Marcus to explain what we can expect on the next part of the road. The first time I see a massive drop off (around 350m) on the side of the road I’m scared. We have to cycle on the cliff side as traffic coming up sticks to the right side and if we go around on a corner on the wrong side we could get hit by a vehicle. It’s scary. The road is loose gravel and rock but we are told to trust the bikes to go over them. The slower we go, the more the bikes wobble. The brakes are super sensitive too so we have to make sure we don’t front brake hard and go over the handlebars. The views are pretty incredible, yet scary and terrifying. There are crosses and memorials all the way down the road for people who have died. Out of 300,000 bike riders like us, only 21 have died (mostly due to their own stupidity). The majority of deaths (over 300 a year) are from local truck drivers and buses. The worst crash was in 1985 when an overcrowded bus with 100 people rolled over the edge in the middle of the night. The track is quite wide most of the way down, although there are some points that are only 3 metres wide and trucks and buses can only just get past. There’s waterfalls we ride under along the way too. Top Gear filmed on Death Road a few years ago and we are shown where and told how what they showed was bullshit and couldn’t happen (the magic of tv- most of the footage wasn’t even filmed on death road!) We stop along the way for snacks and photos. There’s and extra 2 guides taking photos and videos of us all day long. The further down we go, the longer and faster the sections of the road become. I get a puncture on the last 8kms and get a brand new replacement bike. Towards the end we ride through a river and get photos, but all get wet shoes at the same time. We finish up at a small town where we take celebration photos and have a beer and get a tshirt. Some people then go zip lining (I don’t, done way better in Costa Rica) while the rest of us are driven to an animal sanctuary for an all you can eat pasta buffet and more beers. After zip lining everyone joins us and we leave about 6pm for the 3 hour journey back to the hotel. We don’t drive back up death road (only local trucks and buses are permitted) instead we take a newer road. All tired, wet, sore we arrive back at our hotel about 9pm. We all survived Death Road with only a few punctured tyres which is great news. We all go out for a few drinks as it’s Mary’s last night with us and are in bed by about 11.30pm. Potosi. Aka Potoshiti. The highest city of it’s size in the world at about 4100metres. We arrive after a long day driving and are at the hotel about 6.30pm. Straight away I am finding it hard to breathe due to the altitude. We chuck our stuff in our rooms as Ninka takes us on a quick city tour but most things are shut and she gets us lost. There’s one restaurant open so we all eat there and wait ages for our food. I have a carbonara. Still struggling to breathe we head back to the hotel and watch tv till we fall asleep. The major attraction in Potosi is the Silver Mines which half the group go and do a tour the next morning but it doesn’t interest me being underground for 3 hours and seeing teenagers forced to work in there. I spend the morning watching tv, have a shower, skype with parents and go for a walk around the town to get some breakfast (empanadas) and bananas. Everyone is back at lunch time and we head out for some pizza for lunch. We were going to check out the rotating UFO restaurant near town but it’s apparently closed permanently. We head back to the hotel and watch 3 hours of CSI before heading out to a pub for drinks. Most of the group end up there. I’m still finding it hard to breathe so only have a few coronas. We then grab a burger and chips for 5 Bolivianos (80 cents) and head back to the hotel to watch some tv and go to bed. Wake up the next morning and 5 of us boys head to ‘The Mint’ museum where we see all about how money used to be made in Bolivia. We also see all about things made from silver, gold, artwork. It’s bigger and better then we expected and pretty interesting. After this we head back to the hotel to pack and we leave at lunchtime for Uyuni. Uyuni: Uyuni is a small town literally in the middle of the desert. It’s the starting point for all tours into the Salt Flats. We spend the afternoon organising a tour for the next day. Tucan offer a tour for $55 but we manage to book a longer one, that sees more, for $30 per person = win! Uyuni has had blockades and riots in the past few months and people have been stuck in town for days. So there is a chance this could happen to us (hopefully not). We have pizza for dinner at the hotel restaurant and a few drinks. After dinner us boys watch some Workaholics in our room on Jameses laptop. We have breakfast buffet at the hotel before walking a few blocks to our tour company for our salt flats tour at 10am. We split into groups of 7 and our driver for the day is Mario (sadly he is not as fast as Mario). Lots of steam engines and all train carriages have been left to rust and rot away on the outskirts of town. They were used back in the day for transporting silver and other goods in and out of Bolivia. We can climb on the trains (which reminds me of the big red train at Bayswater Park growing up). We stay for about 30 minutes to take photos and look around. We then jump back in our 4WD Land Cruiser and drive for about 1.5 hours through the salt flats to the base of a volcano where we have lunch in a small village, play some football and take photos of some flamingos. After lunch we jump back in the car and drive about 30-40 minutes to ‘Fish Island’ which is a random island in the middle of the salt flats that is covered in large cactuses (cacti?). They grow 1 metre every 100 years and some are at least 4 or 5 metres tall. The ticket office is closed we get get in for free. We spend just over an hour walking around an taking photos. We then jump back in our 4WD and drive to the middle of nowhere where we stop to take funny salt flat photos. We use Jenga, corona bottle, beer glass, football as props amongst other things for photos. We don’t really have long enough to take all the photos we want to but have enough time to take a quick group photo and a pants down photo. We then drive to a “lake” which is more like a big puddle. We stay here to watch the sunset and the sky change color, and it gets cold really fast. We then jump back in the 4WD and Mario drives faster then he has all day, for 30 minutes back into Uyuni. Mario really enjoys the music we are playing on the way back and is bopping along with us. We get back to Uyuni about 7pm and it’s dark and cold. We dump our stuff in the hotel room and then a few of us head out to get some $USD and a bite to eat(not great). We then head back to the hotel and are all pretty tired and in bed by 11. A successful day trip to the salt flats, everyone is very happy with the tour we booked and how much we saved by not going through Tucan. Tupiza. We have a long day driving on the truck for our last full day in Bolivia. We stop at a gas station for a truck lunch on the way. We don’t get to Tupiza to after 5pm and we are split up between a shitty hotel and an even shittier hostel. I’m at the hostel in a room with Julz and James and we have no bathroom or wifi. We dump our shit and go find the others at the shitty hotel and we all head out to find an ATM for $US. We then wander the streets and eventually find a kitsch little American themed restaurant to eat at real cheap. The wall is covered in photos of celebrities and memorabilia. There’s a photo of Will Smith at the restaurant too. After eating we head back to our shitty hostel as we have to be up at 5am the next day. We get very little sleep as there is about a 30 person band out on the street outside the hostel alternating between playing music and setting fireworks off till after midnight. It’s fucking loud and I don’t get more than about 2-3 hours sleep. Bolivia Summary. We were all very excited to get get out of Peru into Bolivia, but all even more excited to get out of Bolivia! It’s the poorest country in South America. The highlights were definitely Death Road and the Salt Flats. There’s not much else, if anything to do in Bolivia. It’s cold and dirty and smelly. I havnt mentioned it earlier but the amount of speed humps in South America is ridiculous. The truck is constantly slowing down to go over speed humps and it’s super annoying. Next stop: Argentina.
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