You know that epic road trip I was writing about two days ago? Yes, well. Epic. Fail.
After trying, and failing to enter Argentina, Neil and I have arrived back in Asuncion. I don’t think there could have been a sadder homecoming. After so much planning and packing and preparation this rejection hit hard and hurt.
So why were we turned away at the Argentinian border? Well, we weren’t (our passports were stamped and everything) but our car was. We were told this might be a problem a couple of weeks ago but when the Argentinian consulate was called they didn’t seem to know anything about it, so embracing optimism, I didn’t worry (totally should have worried). Rules seem to be pretty flexible around here and I thought we could probably talk our way out/in….which would have been easier if Neil and I spoke or understood better Spanish. We could get the gist of what was going on but our responses were very cave-man-esque:
“In process. We o.k. Have papers”
Is probably what our persuasive argument loosely translated as. To clarify: Neil and I are not residents of Paraguay yet, our paperwork is in process. So while we own our car, have the documents that say we can take our car out of the country and have insurance that is good for all of South America, Argentina doesn’t recognize this without a Paraguayan residency status (or cedula). This is a seriously lame law. I am a law abider but when the law is this lame I tend to not want to stick to it. After the Argentinian border men told us we needed to return to Paraguay, they proceeded to sit and sip their tetere (mate tea) without so much as a glance in our direction. With our stamped passports this was a direct invitation to me to break this law. I pushed hard for driving away into Argentina and playing dumb if they came after us, but my more law-abiding husband thought that this could lead to some big problems down the road (literally) and I was persuaded into also following a super-lame law.
I didn’t mention this before but my wonderful sister (who has traveled to many far of places to spend Christmas with me) and her boyfriend were also with us, along for the first two weeks of our road trip. Not sure what our next move could be, we sent them ahead into Argentina to catch a night bus to Buenos Aires. Then Neil and I did the 5 hour drive home and booked a flight to meet them there tomorrow morning. So, in 24 hours we will all be in Buenos Aires as planned, sans car. The idea right now is to bus and rent a car and essentially do the same road trip as backpackers instead of road-trippers.
Side note: Turning away from Argentina meant turning back to Paraguay BUT Neil and I have expired Paraguayan visas. The plan was to apply for a new one while in Argentina (you cannot get one at land border crossings). Since Argentina didn’t want us, we had to try and cross the Paraguayan border with no visa. This could have been seriously messy. Paraguay should have not let us back in, and Argentina would let us in but not our car, potentially leaving us stranded in no-mans-land. Thank goodness for Paraguayan inefficiency is all I have to say! They didn’t even stop us. Well that’s a lie, they stopped us to check our trunk, but they didn’t ask for our papers or passports. At a legitimate border crossing, absolutely nothing. This was crazy to me but this crazy also worked for me so no complaints will be found here. Just thankfulness that today wasn’t a complete disaster.
This change of plans, as you might imagine, seriously messed up my packing.
I’ve spent the last 4 hours sorting, unpacking and repacking until it all sorta fit. My bag is a behemoth (actually a baby behemoth compared to Neils) but it’s holding a remarkable amount of essentials: winter clothing, summer clothing a yoga mat and some camping gear (mainly a sleeping bag and tent).
Tomorrow we try again for a different kind of trip and a different border crossing method. Wish us luck, we’ve needed it lately!