May 5, 2006
The ship pulled into Bahia Negra early this morning. Craig and I got off right away, but activity continued around the ship all day. It became a market of sorts as eager townsfolk boarded to buy their much-needed fruits and vegetables from the vendors.
Our first task for today was to figure out when we could leave town. We would have preferred to stay for three days or so and take another boat or bus out of town. However, we learned that the ship we rode in on would start making its way back to ConcepciÃ³n tonight, so we would have to wait a whole week to get on it again. Also, the only bus out of town leaves tomorrow, and the next one isn't for another week. This is one of the most remote areas of the country, so the news wasn't too surprising. Neither Craig nor I want to stick around here for a week, so we will grab the bus tomorrow.
While walking around town today, we were approached by a white man in his fifties. He introduced himself as William from South Africa and invited us over to his house to explain a tour he is offering of the area. He takes people on a boat he bought and renovated further up the river to see wildlife. It sounded like a great trip, but he wanted $30 per day for four days and neither of us had that much cash with us, so we had to decline.
William was an interesting character to talk to, though. He grew up in South Africa and used to race horses, but he decided to move to Paraguay about fifteen years ago when things started to get rough in his country. He used to sell yogurt and other dairy products, but now he sticks to trading fish with the locals, selling ice, and running the occasional tour. He's been bitten by various spiders, snakes, and monkeys in the area, but he's lucky. He told us about one other guy who got eaten by a crocodile and yet another man who was bitten so badly that he had to spend the last year and a half in a hospital. This area is so wild that I guess it shouldn't have surprised me so much to find a crazy South African living here.
After talking to William, Craig and I decided to walk to the nearby Indian village. On the way there, I started to feel nauseous. Suddenly, I lost my lunch. My non-vomiting streak ended at nearly half a year. I felt a little better afterwards, though, so we continued.
When we were nearing the village, a fifteen-year-old girl pulled up to us on a bicycle and started talking to us. Her name was Lilian, and she lived in the village with her family. She invited us over for some terere, which is a cold drink made from yerba leaves (she appeared slightly offended when I called it mate). We gladly accepted. Lilian was a gracious host, and we learned that her family speaks a language other than Guarani, which itself is a pretty obscure language. Other than her native language, she also knows Guarani, Spanish, a little Italian, and is starting to learn English. She also plays volleyball and wants to go to college to become a lawyer. Craig and I were both very impressed. It turns out that the native people around here do a lot more than just farming.
On the way back to the metropolis of Bahia Negra, I threw up again. Maybe it was the terere, maybe not, but I wasn't willing to take any chances from there on out. I guess I was making up for all those months of being healthy.
Back in town, I could only eat a couple bites for lunch. I started showing Craig some of my pictures from the last few months. When a picture of some food came up, I felt it again. Three pukings in one day, nowhere near a doctor. Not good, especially considering that the bus tomorrow will take about fourteen hours. The only way it could get worse is if diarrhea set in. I went to one of the small shops in town, and luckily the owner had some medicine to stop the vomiting. I also decided that I better stick to fluids for the next few days just to make sure. It could be a rough ride out of here.