After leaving the landscape of the Jesuits in southern Paraguay, our time in this beautiful, strange country was at an end. Off to the other end of Encarnacion, for our fourth international border crossing of the trip.
Anyone who’s grown up in Ireland will be familiar with the routine of presenting your passport almost every time you travel by air. Crossing a land border by car, and getting my passport stamped while in the comfort of the drivers seat, is still a novelty.
The bridge from Encarnacion across the vast Paraná river leads to the Argentine city of Posadas, the only crossing point between these countries within 140km. We decided to cross it at 5pm. Should be quick, right?
Two hours and two minutes later, we left Argentine border control, to try and find a place to sleep in Posadas. I hope you noticed that prominent sign on Argentina’s side:
Just in case you’d forgotten the Falklands/Malvinas War, Argentina would like you to remember.
The first hostel we found open in Posadas didn’t give off a great vibe so we used their WiFi to book ourselves a more luxurious room at the airport hotel.
The big attraction in this part of Argentina is the wetland region of Esteros del Iberá, second only to the more famous Pantanal, up in Brazil. Alas, we didn’t get to visit it with our rush back to Brazil, but maybe next time.
Instead, we headed back east, towards Brazil’s own Rebel County, the state of Rio Grande do Sul. We passed through Oberá, a city famous for its multi-ethnic, multi-national population, before we crossed the Uruguay river and arrived back in Brazil.
If you noticed in that video – that Volkswagen with the Paraguayan plates, in front of us on the ferry. It’s facing the wrong way. On the previous trip across, a very unlucky father had somehow dropped his keys in the river while enjoying the view. We watched as his wife tore this unfortunate man to shreds in front of the waiting passengers. They carried their children up to the Argentine dock, along with what looked like a week’s holiday supplies. Ouch.
We kept our keys firmly in our pockets and crossed without event.
There’s that sense of relief I’ve felt many times, in Cork or Dublin airports, or at the ferry port in Rosslare. When you set foot back in Ireland, and everything makes sense again. I very nearly felt that landing back on “our” side of the border. Suddenly I could communicate with everyone again, with only minor difficulty, in Portuguese.
The first immigration officer we met welcomed us warmly, moments after Ireland had lost to France in our last match of Euro 2016.
Where are you from?
Well, i’ve got some bad news for you!
We headed inland, towards the small town of San Martinho, which an old lady on the boat had recommended to stay in, and passed once more through a landscape reminiscent of Windows XP.
And spent the night stuffing ourselves with the giant burgers they call “Xis” in Rio Grande do Sul.
The more things change, the more they stay the same. Budapest 2012 vs Brazil 2016:
Welcome to Gaúcho country!
- Mai-Tai Hotel Posadas: €30 / R$110 for a double room
- Argentina-Brazil ferry: AR$155 / €10 / R$40, although we got a discount since we didn’t have enough Pesos on us!
- Xis burger & chips: R$20 / €5.50
- Pizza at Pizza 40 in Posadas: AR$220 / €13 / R$47
- Pousada Renascer, São Martinho: R$80 / €22 for a double room. It’s the only hotel here.