So I have decided to write another blog about Vallemi, expanding on some of the points from before, because the boat has taken almost a week to pick us up.
The first night was spent on the old boat still, the Cacique II. We were able to set ourselves up on the mattresses they were bringing, and fall asleep above and below a blanket of stars; the stars' reflection in the perfectly calm water provided those below us.
After awakening, and finding a nice Brazilian owned hotel, we adventured out into this town. Some friends adopted us at our request for some beer, and took us to a river nearby to enjoy it. The knee deep water separated us from Brazil, and I took my first steps in that country (note: I don't have the $100 Visa; please don't tell your local Brazillian embassy). Some food and more beer followed at our friends house, making plans to party that night. After a siesta, we took in the local discoteca, dancing with the locals.
The days since have been less productive, mainly focused around a single event, preceded and followed by siestas and reading; the heat will only allow us to do so much. One such day again, took us to the river. This time, however, my friend found a freshwater ray. He described the most pain he had ever felt in his life, and sped off on a motorcycle in pursuit of medicine. I followed on the bed of a truck to find him writhing back in bed at the hotel. He is fine now, but the foot does swell up in the intense heat.
The following day, we got a private tour of the cement factory. Again, there is no tourist industry, so we simply walked in, announced ourselves, and they gave us a young engineer to show us around. It was my first cement factory, so I was impressed by the size, noise, heat, and dust. Reading and siestas saved us from the intense 9am heat which followed the tour.
Yesterday, our adventure was underground, giving us respite from the heat. We went to some local caves with our "guide" showing us the way; he was really just our neighbor who had been there once before, and simply shouted instructions down from the surface. Once inside, it was pretty straight forward, with a series of tunnels which all came back to a central walkway. there were some giant roots hanging from the surface, and a couple of rooms with a large enough skylight to be allow ferns growing 40 feet below the surface. Despite attempts, we did not get lost and made it back to the surface in one piece. Reading and siestas followed.
Sometime between 3 and 7pm, the boat is coming to pick us up. While it is nice to move on, it has been a real restful couple of days here in Vallemi, Paraguay.
--There are more donkey carts than cars in Vallemi, though motorcycles rule. Everyone zips around on one, even to ages of 11 or 12.
--The cement factory employs 500 people in a town of 15,000. The Austrian machinist we are with describes similar factories in the states with barely 50-70 people doing the same work.
--At about 40cents each, empanadas are my main form of sustenance. My vegetarian travel partner is not so lucky. I have been taught how to make them and WILL be bringing them back to the states.