Discover more from Vic Koopmans
It’s 4:30 a.m. I’m on a plane. After multiple hours of conversations with my Argentinian neighbour I land in Asunción, the capital of Paraguay. I made my hotel reservation an hour before ascending and now find myself driving into this city that’s unknown to me.
The taxi driver guarantees me that I just arrived in the best country in the world.
“You see those trees?” Somewhere in the darkness I see the contours of that which are supposedly trees. “You don’t have trees with leaves that green in the Netherlands, do you?”
A triumphant laugh. “I knew it. And look at this road we’re driving on.” - I’m in the backseat, the windows are tinted. “You don’t have roads like that in the Netherlands, do you?”
“The infrastructure in the Netherlands is actually…”
“Ha! I knew we have the best fucking roads in the world.”
I nod and smile at the patriot.
Some time passes by and we stop in front of a traffic light. He looks in the rear view mirror. “You know what you need?”
“I know what you need,” he replies and smirks.
“I’d be careful with your next sentence, mate,” I say.
5:45 a.m. Here I sit. In a taxi somewhere in a country in South America, eating a local delicacy. A piece of bread that tastes like someone’s first try at a croissant. In a few minutes I’ll be in my rundown hotel where I’ll break down a door in an attempt to help out the girl working night shift. That same girl will compliment me on my “strength” and my tattoos and makes me an offer I can and will refuse.
Let me just take this moment to tell you that I truly love this life I’m living.
After my nightly escapades I rest up. In the early afternoon the bags under my eyes have vanished and I face the 40+ degrees Celsius (or whatever’s the equivalent in yards over soccer bullets Fahrenheit) that melt away Asunción.
The modern city centre is visited in under two hours (Latin American cities are structured a bit different than the average European city). Fortunately I run into the only other tourist in Asunción and we hang out until the sun sets.
At around 6:30 p.m. I lie in my hotel room planning my next move. I decide to leave the next day to cross the border the day after that. A few hours later my appetite prevails over my tendency of wanting to save money and I head out to a cafe I visited in the afternoon.
Before I’m even sat down and have ordered a meal some guy at a nearby table starts waving and talking, looking for my attention. He invites me to sit with him and his friend. I accept. Worst case scenario is that it’ll make for a good story.
And that it does.
They turn out to be very kind, interesting men. Their friendliness convinces me to hang around for a bit longer.
My stay gets extended by half a week. During this time one of the two uses every minute of his spare time to show me around the city. From the parks to the shopping malls to a house in the suburbs where we end up in a swimming pool in the middle of the night.
He’s one of the friendliest, sweetest people I’ve ever met. Making sure I’m safe, making sure I’m enjoying myself, making sure my days in Paraguay will forever be engraved in my memory.
He made it worth while, I made a friend. Grateful to have done so.
A goodbye, a bus ride, an overnight stay in a crappy hotel by the border. The next morning I grab my backpack, spend my final Guaraní (Paraguayan money) and walk towards the rising sun.
An exit stamp, a fifteen minute stroll over a bridge and an entry stamp. People wearing yellow football jerseys, signs and posters in a language I don’t understand. A massive grin on my face, a body full of goosebumps. I am in a country I have been wanting to visit since day one.
I look up and read the words written on a wall nearby: “Bem-vindo ao Brasil.”
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