As we ride out of Asuncion the hovering storm clouds finally break open and spill out onto the land, drenching us completely at the edge of the city, and then for the next two hours. Water creeps into absolutely every inch of my bike riding suit and even into my luggage. It’s brutal. It’s uncomfortable. And it’s probably way overdue.
I don’t have the energy to stop and get my GoPro camera out, and no other camera would ever be able to survive the deluge. So on we go, slogging our way up the highway toward Coronel Oviedo, halfway to Paraguay’s border with Brazil. Time after time I hope Brian will turn into a gas station and maybe give this a chance to pass. But waiting for his right turn signal proves pointless.
I can feel the cold water standing in a pool in my lap at first and then it seeps through my riding pants and eventually I’m wet to the knees. After maybe 20 minutes of rain I can feel the water start to run down my legs, inside my pants and hit my knee high socks. After a while those are soaked and I can feel the water wicking down to my feet, heels first and then all the way to my toes. The downpour is nearly Biblical in proportion. I’m riding at 30-35 mph on the highway and having to wipe my visor clean from the outside and the inside. As much water is running down the inside as out and two layers of rain streaks and droplets is blinding me. It starts to accumulate in my boots by now, and with more than an hour to go I can feel the water rising in my boots, making them awkward and heavy. The water balloons my feet are now encapsulated in make it hard to shift and to brake at first. Water creeps up over my ankles inside my boot and stays that high, and even climbs higher at times when the amount of water rushing out of the boots is less than that running it. I can feel the water slosh around as I turn corners and need to apply my brakes.
The rain washes red earth from surrounding roads into the highway. Although we don’t actually see any clear surface of the road today anyway, it’s strange to ride on red water sections instead of just plain water. Brian is right not to stop, even on the high plateau during the lightning strikes, as the storm never abates. We just need to get this over with and get to our next shelter for the night.
And on we go….
Finally, after two hours of rain riding, we turn into the town of Coronel Oviedo. Brian has scouted a place for us to camp for the night on Horizons Unlimited. A man named Walter who runs tours across Paraguay, and even into Bolivia, Brazil, and most other countries in South America, has opened a travelers oasis at his home for overlanders. At least in recent memory, no other end of my day has looked so good. We pull up and ring the bell, while enjoying the momentary respite from the rain under the eaves of the house. Walter opens the door and confirms he has space….Oh, thank God. And he walks around to open the gate for us so we can ride into the courtyard of his beautiful home.
He ushers us up to an open air shelter and out of the rain before we even get off the bikes. This is more than I had hoped for…how did he know my bike prefers to be out of the wet? We climb off and get our coats off and then I have Brian film me pour the water from my boots. I had asked about camping at first, but we really don’t want to camp. And we are in luck, Walter has rooms to rent too. Showers and dry clothes do us a world of good.
Walters place includes the use of the open air “great room” and a kitchen, and so much more. We make ourselves at home for a couple of days so we can take advantage of the drying time. But my boots are still wet after two days in the sun and take another 5 before they are nearly dry.
The place is perfect. Chickens cluck in their coop. Grapefruit drop onto the ground as they finish ripening.
Walter tells us a little about his tour company and some of his travels. He moved to Paraguay 33 years ago to teach mechanics at a local university. He married a lovely Paraguayan woman and speaks fluent Spanish, of course, that is just clear enough for me to understand more easily than any so far on this continent. The mutuality of having Spanish as a second language makes it so much easier.
Walter also speaks a bit of Guarani that he learned from his wife and her family. He shares a few word meanings with us – Iguazu means big water, Itaipu means sounding rock water, parana means bad fish, and our favorite – caipirinha means bad monkey disaster, essentially what we all look like if we have too many of them.
Walter is a wealth of information for any overlander travelling through. He has driven his 2CV from Paraguay across the Brazilian jungle, and around the Andes. He’s incredibly interesting and a super nice guy. Brian and he hit it off straight away, of course, because they both speak fluent engine-ese. Walter has made a 4X4 out of one of his CVs by putting a second motor in the back and somehow connecting the two into a single drive train, which is optional, making a super powerful four-wheeled monster.
Walter offers tours in his Land Rovers too, if that’s what clients prefer. But for me, the CV is about the coolest vintage ride I’ve seen in a while. I can imagine all sorts of fun adventures in one of those.
In the evenings Walter shares some of his travel photos with us and suggests some good books to read if we can learn to read Spanish and/or German. Walter published a book himself last year which I would love to be able to read….if only I read German. He and his wife went on a few-month tour north from Paraguay through the Brazilian jungle and up to Venezuela and west through Colombia to Ecuador. Eventually they finished their loop through Peru and Bolivia and arrived back home in Paraguay. The photos from that trip are beautiful.
All the while our clothes keep hanging around.
And so do we.
We wish we could stay longer, if only to get to hang out with Walter a bit longer, but he says the drive and border crossing into Brazil will be much easier on a Sunday. So we decide two nights will have to be all for us and we head for the low volume day border crossing into Brazil.
Muchas gracias, Walter! We hope to see you again soon.