Change Yourself…Change The World.

The Most Ridiculous Travel Story.
October 21, 2009, 5:27 am
Filed under: Paraguay

Inevitably, you have those days when you’re traveling, where EVERYTHING that could possibly go wrong, goes wrong. Today was one of those days. And I could not stop laughing hysterically throughout the entire episode, because of the utter ridiculousness of it all.

Today, Polina (another intern) and I went to the Asunción office, which is about half an hour away from the main office of our internship. We were going there to meet with the General Manager of the office to conduct an interview, and then we were told that we were going to shadow either him or a loan officer to meet clients and see what an employee does every day. We were therefore given detailed directions by our main office on how to take a bus there.
“Take the Mercado 4 and get off before the bridge,” we were told. “The office is two blocks down from the bridge.”

Silly us. By ‘bridge’ we assumed ‘a bridge with water.’ ‘Bridge’ actually meant a small overpass. Polina and I, in our sleep-induced state at 7:30 AM in the morning, sat on the bus for about half an hour (it was supposed to be 10 minutes away) until we realized that we must not be going the right way. We got out in a crazy market in the middle of Asunción, and hailed a taxi.
“Eusebio Ayala and Doce de Octubre,” we told the address to the taxi driver, who whizzed us away while almost ‘forgetting’ to turn on the meter. 13,000 guaranís later, we arrived at the office. We were half an hour late, but no big deal.

We met with the General Manager and conducted an interview in Spanish (Yes ladies and gentlemen. I am near fluent now!!). Apparently there was some confusion about the ‘shadowing’ part, as the General Manager had not been notified of this. Bummer. We requested if we could go and meet clients ourselves. We were able to interview one client before eventually conceding that we had to turn back to the main office.
We asked the secretary what bus to take back. “Autobús Once,” we were told (Bus 11). As soon as we walked outside, a Bus 11 pulled up. Perfect.
What we DIDN’T know was that there are 4 different kinds of Bus 11’s.

We sat on the bus. And sat on the bus. And sat on the bus. Something like 45 minutes must have passed by.
“We must have missed it,” I kept saying to Polina.
“Maybe the bus is going around different routes before it eventually comes to our street?” Polina offered.
We waited a bit more.
Suddenly, “Brittany, we’re outside of Asunción.”

We immediately pull the string on the bus to signal it to stop. We jumped off to survey our surroundings- we were quite literally in the middle of nowhere. The city smell was gone with only green pastures all around us, and two highways. The smell of manure was so overpowering that we both almost vomited. We crawled into a greasy gas station nearby and sat down to figure out what our next step was.
While discussing our options, Polina noticed that across the highway, about 5 taxi cars had passed by without passengers in them. It therefore seemed that the most logical idea would be to cross the highway and flag down a taxi.
After almost getting run over about three times, Polina and I finally got across the small highway and waited. And waited. And waited. No taxis. Absolutely no taxis.
At this point it was nearly midday and reaching a temperature of the high 90’s. We decided the next course of action would be to walk down the road until we found a taxi stand, or a bus that could take us back to VillaMora, our area of Asunción. Whenever we asked someone where the closest taxi stand was, they would say “Oh, probably about a block that way.” We must have walked at least a MILE, sweating, cursing, and laughing hysterically over how preposterous this expedition had turned out to be. It didn’t help that both of us had gotten such a small amount of sleep the previous night that we were near the point of hallucination.

FINALLY we spotted a taxi stand, and ran screaming towards it as if we had been on a deserted island for a week and finally seen some sort of life. I was so relieved that we had finally found a freaking taxi, it seemed like all of our troubles were over.
We then proceeded to sit in traffic for another hour in a black and unconditioned car, watching the meter slowly rising higher and higher in price. When we requested that the driver take another street, he turned onto a dirt road, bumped and bounced along about three times as slow as we had been in traffic, and then turned right back onto the same street again. Great.

We got home with a 50,000 guaraní bill, with clothes that were SO soaked in sweat that we felt we had jumped into a swimming pool of filth, and with possible heat stroke. By the time we finally collapsed onto the couch in our house and tried to relay back the story to our roommate, we were both laughing so hard that we were almost crying. We immediately decided the next course of action would be to drink water, take showers, and pass out for three hours.
As Polina and I dragged ourselves up the stairs while still uncontrollably laughing, Polina said, “Let’s never talk about this experience EVER again.”

So just remember, my friends- while you’re all sitting around at home going “That Brittany is SO lucky she gets to travel everywhere,” then let me tell you something- prepare for the days when these things will happen. I have something like this happen to me (though not on this grand of a scale) at LEAST once every few weeks. It’s part of what goes along with all of the amazing and spontaneous adventures you have- those random days where NOTHING goes right, where you spend TEN TIMES the money than you were planning to, and where you feel SO disgusting from all of the dirt and grime of travel that you concede that nothing but a shower will solve all of your problems.

All I can say is, learn to laugh through all of these times… even if it’s only because you’re severely dehydrated.

Here’s to Paraguayan buses and directions, and of course, here is to going on ANOTHER bus ride with Polina tomorrow,

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