Thursday I pretty much just hung out in Encarnacion. It's definitely one of the nicer places in Paraguay, in my opinion. As much as I love Pilar for the people and tranquilidad, it's a town, not a city. I like Ciudad del Este for the activity factor and how easy it is to get around the country/continent by bus from there, but the safety issues are definitely a downside. Encarnacion seems to balance the activity with the tranquilidad. It's a big enough city to have, for example, a real supermarket (sorry Pilar) but everywhere I went (mainly in the zona alta) felt very safe, and was well-lit at night and clean. Being on the border with Argentina, there are plenty of buses to everywhere in Argentina, plus Uruguay, and pretty much everywhere in eastern Paraguay as well.
My bus to Buenos Aires left about 2 hours late, thanks to delays in Asuncion. Once we finally got going, we drove about 5 minutes, and got stuck for over an hour in Paraguayan customs. (WHY?! Since when does Paraguayan customs care about anything?) Then we drove over the bridge, and spent almost an hour in Argentinian customs. After about 10 minutes in Argentina, we stopped for dinner. I had a screaming baby behind me this whole time. After about another hour on the road after dinner at around 1AM, I decided that I needed sleep and went downstairs where it was quieter. All was well for a few hours, and one of the bus employees decided that I needed to re-learn the entire political history of Paraguay rather than sleep. He never said for certain if he was involved or not, but he talked a lot about the Somoza assassination and definitely there when it happened.
My relearning of Paraguayan politics continued until we passed a broken down bus and picked up some of their passengers. My previously quiet bottom floor was then filled with porteños who WOULD NOT SHUT UP. The lady behind me literally did not stop complaining about being on a Paraguayan bus (because, you know, all things Paraguayan are inherently inferior to all things Argentinian) despite it being identical to the bus that she had been on. My various other fellow passengers had an awful cough, a cell phone that apparently did not have a vibrate mode, and an urgent need to listen to cumbia without headphones at 5AM.
After finally making it to Buenos Aires and checking into a pretty awesome hostel, I met up with a few other travellers and walked around the city. Saturday I went to La Boca and Recoleta, and today I went to Retiro and did some more sightseeing with a Polish girl from the hostel.
Amazingly, in this city of 14 million people (the entire population of Paraguay couldn't fill half the city) and thousands of buses, I ran into an AFS Paraguay volunteer on a bus in Recoleta. Just proves how small exchange makes the world...
In a few hours I'll be heading to Montevideo, Uruguay. Chau!