My 180 days in Brazil expired on the Friday and so we were forced to leave, there was also the small issue of making it back down to Posadas for Gaz’s bus on the Tuesday. We’d originally been planning to go to Asunción, but it ended up being better for both of us to head back to Posadas. For Gaz, it meant a shorter and cheaper bus ride back down to Buenos Aires. For me, it gave me the chance to get something sorted out with a parcel that I’ll explain later.
We had just over 300km to go, and so as long as we kept our 75km average up we’d arrive on the Monday, giving us all of Tuesday to get things sorted out. That was all going well, for about 50km when Gaz’s knee started to give him grief. It had been fine when we got to Foz, and having been off it for a few days I thought it’d give him time to get strong and he’d have no problems with the ride down to Posadas. He chose not to mention his knee pain until it was getting really obvious at the 85km mark when we were still 5kmaway from a place to stop and he was being forced to walk up hills. Not exactly perfect. We made it to the town and got permission from the police to camp in the little park between them and the main road. Gaz couldn’t do much more than hobble and even that was kinda painful.
As Gaz stood up in the morning we knew our plans would be changing, as even that pressure was painful. We had our normal breakfast, a bowl of cereal, and made it a slow 25km with Gaz soldiering on. We stopped in Eldorado for a supermarket beer to go with our second breakfast and were planning on hitching a lift to the town we’d wanted to get to that day. It’d give his knee a bit of rest, and keep us on target to arrive in Posadas on time.
Before finding a lift, I spotted a tyre shop where I hoped they’d be able to let me borrow some glue. I’d decided to use the Schwalbe tyre that had failed on me back in Montevideo, based on the idea that there was no reason to carry an almost dead tyre as a spare. I’d use it until it died, with the help of Seth’s trusty tyre-boot. The tyre shop gave me a hand, although it seemed that while applying the glue the hole actually got worse. While we were there, a cyclist called Gustavo went past on a training ride and stopped to talk. The conversation ended with an invite to his place, so we arranged to meet him in the main square after he finished his ride. It’d give Gaz the rest of the day off, and we’d see how things were the next day.
Gustavo had lived in the town of Eldorado nearly all his life and was full of stories about the area. His biggest criticism seemed to be of the international influence, principally from Canada, which had brought down people planting pine trees. He told me that they’d found a species that could grow to maturity in a third of the time as it took in Canada, and so had taken to buying up huge swathes of the province of Misiones. There were towns that were unable to grow, because private pine forests trapped them in and there had been a strong influence on the wildlife too. Native birds didn’t live in pine trees, and they weren’t cohabiting well with the original plants.
After a morning of mate, we headed to the bus terminal and in that 1km ride Gaz felt a twinge in his knee. It was a little better, but pushing hard on it seemed insanity. We had ridden almost 1500km, and while he was frustrated to be in an area that he knew he’d be enjoying cycling through it wasn’t worth long-term damage. A 140km bus ride took us to San Ignacio, and after deciding not to go and see the Jesuit ruins we did a 20km ride to make it a short ride the day after. We took it slowly, and his knee stood up to the challenge. If only we’d had a couple more days, we’d have been able to do the whole thing without a bus.
Our final night on the road was spent at a police station, and then it was 45km back to Posadas where we sorted out a bus ticket, and stayed in a hostel to give us time and space to get everything sorted out in a way that would have been harder at a fire station. There were no bicycle boxes in town, so we made up our own out of a couple of cardboard boxes.
Gaz took a midnight bus getting him into Buenos Aires at 1pm, and then made it to the airport. It was strange to see him go. He was a great person to travel with, and almost impossible to argue with. There were a couple of moments of frustration, but I would definitely ride with him again if he ever wanted to and hope to do so! Hopefully with a less tight schedule next time.
As far as me, I’m now in a bit of a waiting pattern hanging out with a Couchsurfer here in Posadas. The replacement rails that I’d been waiting for in Florianopolis had finally arrived, taking over 2 months to go from the UK to Brazil. I had been hoping to get them forwarded on to me in Foz, but with my 180 days expiring and Aline being busy at work it didn’t work out. I’m hopeful that they can be forwarded to me in Asunción, but the fast post takes 4-8 days, and the slow 20-40 days!
As well as the rails, I’m also waiting for another package. Hector, the guy who met us on the side of the road in Bella Vista, Paraguay, is the customer of a company who brings things over from the US. I got Big Agnes to ship a replacement tent outer to Miami, where it’s now waiting to be brought down to Paraguay. When it’s sent, it’ll take 10-14 days to make it’s way here, which means I need to still be in Asunción around the 10th-15th of September. I have a place to stay there, but I’m not sure if that invite really extends to two weeks, so it’s time to make it slowly up there. It’s why it was good for me to come back to Posadas. This would be no problem, but after Asunción I’m wanting to visit Bolivia before the rainy season kicks in sometime in October, which means the more time I wait to get my packages the less time I get in the Andes before the rain comes. There’s also someone wanting to ride with me there, but that depends on when I can get over.