The music today is traditional Paraguaya music sung in Guarani
9,10,11/5/2014 Remanso to Concepción onboard MV Osmar
Beautiful weather, clear skies 28°C
Getting up in the morning with a lot less dew on the tent due to some overnight breezes. Packing commenced rather early.
Whilst packing another boat similar to the Osmar pulled out of the bay.
My heart dropped, thinking it was my ride. Closer inspection revealed the deck to be slightly different.
A burger and porridge were enjoyed and the bike was parked over at Franciscos and a wander was taken over to the restaurants where the boat was thankfully still tied up against the shore.
Fantastic! They were still here. Speaking to Carlos, he explained they would be leaving at 1500 hrs.
It was a good idea to get the bike and bring it over. This was done.
With time to spare, help was given to load some of the cargo.
My comment that it was fruit and veges going up to Caleria Tres Cerro was not correct. The cargo is infact almost anything you can think of that people need on a day to day basis.
This includes, beer, petrol, rice, coa cola, corn, gas, milk powder, beds, chairs, cooking oil, sweets, wine, onions, eggs, yoghurt.
We were never going to go hungry.
There was a crew helping to load her. Everything was done manually. If it was light stuff like six packs or pop corn we would form a human chain and throw the items to each other all the way to the hold.
Everything was a team effort, even the act of walking down the planks to the trucks so as not to rock it too much.
I helped with most things, but backed away from 50kg bags of maize and rice.
Most tricky was trying to get 30 foot lengths of reinforcing rods onboard.
We bent them in half and it became more practical.
Trucks were late bringing goods, so we were not finished till about 1900hrs.
We all enjoyed a few beers and a chat afterwards.
Interestingly about 90% of the population speaking Guaraní. Often the guys were speaking in this languages to themselves and about me with a laugh.
Dinner was huge slabs of beef and mandioca done over charcoal on a covered BBQ in a 60L drum.
My bed was up in the wheel house knowing we were going to leave at 0300.
It was good of Carlos to do this.
We hope to be in Concepción tomorrow in the afternoon, which will give me time in daylight to get organized with a room.
Waking up this morning well before daylight. The guys were pulling in the shorelines and the 220hp Scania diesel kicked into life.
It was given full revs astern and to port to get us from the shallows by swinging the stern into deeper water. We let go of the shore, got sea room, and so began the journey up the Paraguay river to Concepción.
It is a privilege to be onboard. The guys are feeding me and there is never a Tereré to far from proceedings, it is so refreshing.
Once again, my mind drifts to a feather on my bike. It was very fortunate to have chanced upon the Osmar during its 4 days unloading and loading at Remanso.
This eastern side of South America could see me spending more time on these huge rivers that drain and replenish the Mato Grosso and the Amazon basin.
Onboard are the captain, Nikki the cook, a young engineer and the first mate.
With me there is five of us. It is great to be seeing some of the country from the river that is so important, socially and economically to Paraguays well being.
Last night there were a couple of woman onboard for drinks among other people.
We were buying beer at a shop opposite the boat.
As the others were finishing their cans they unashameably just tossed them into the river.
From my perspective, it was bizarre. My thoughts were not discussed. However, this morning in the wheel house I spoke to Carlos about it. We both agreed there is a relation between poverty and ones attitude towards littering.
Food and shelter when not fully under control, they put the environment a distant third.
The river runs at five knots. The Water Hyacinth is locally known as Camalote. The water is a rich ochre colour and a comfortable temperature.
During the morning, a good sleep was had in the fore cabin where the crew sleep. I had a bed whilst they were on watch.
The country we are passing through is known as the Chaco, from the boat, can be seen many palms, bamboos, trees, though not huge and in many places are cattle.
Most of it is private land. It is understandable why the highway had to give the river a wide berth, huge areas appear to be low and inundated with waters.
Generally we are about 60m - 70m above sea level.
At one point three Brasilero military vessels passed us.
We were far away enough for me to take a few photos. The Osmar is 50 years old, looking at all the dents and rust on its gunnels, she has seen alot of work.
With alot the cargo not in the holds, it is an obstacle course moving about on the deck.
On the higher areas along the river banks are buildings and houses that are estancias, some local native fisherman in wooden canoes were also observed .
At one point, we had to sit holding in the current on the port shore to let a huge tow pass by.
There were 20 barges in the tow, it was empty, it is used for transporting ore to Brazil. These vessels have right of way at all times, Carlos informed me.
I haven’t showered since Asunción so will be looking forward to a good scrub in Concepción tomorrow afternoon. The rest of the day was everso relaxing. Finding a chair, I listened to a talking book and fell asleep on the fore deck.
Olvaldo said I could use his bunk for the night which was unreal, it was a full size bed, so a good nights sleep was enjoyed.
Nikki cooked up battered beef for dinner, the batter was unreal, I have not felt hungry since boarding.
A small generator is started in the afternoon each day to recharge our phones and lower the freezer temperatures again.
My own food is eaten in the morning, preparing porridge and coffee. Giving Carlos a brew yesterday, he did not like it, saying it was too strong.
Judging by the coffee for sale, even the big supermarkets, the brew comes a distant second to Mate and Tereré in peoples diet.
At 0030 the boat came to a stop. We had pulled into a small village and the guys were rowing a new handmade wooden work boat out to be tethered to the stern.
This occurred in Puerto Antequera, soon after a retreat was made back to the fore peak.
The gentle rhythmic hum of the diesel and the water lapping against the bow soon put me back to sleep.
Getting up this morning, while using my camera, it was found the flash is not functioning. A note comes up “wrong flash position restart camera”.
Nothing tried would remedy it.
There was no reason for this to happen.
It was put down to “planned obsolescence”. In 3 years of travelling, this will be my 4th camera.
In saying that they probably get used as much as in a year, as other people use theirs in 5.
It makes sense for the manufacturers to program something like the flash to stop functioning say after 4 or 5 thousand photos. It is not good for consumerism or business sense, should their products last too long.
Printers have this programmed into their chips as was exposed in a TV show.
Canon have got their wish, I will be trying to buy a new camera in Concepción, Much of my photography is taken using flash.
It is the moving parts that are the issue, the last Canon, had a problem with the lense retraction mechanism. A camera without a retractile flash maybe considered.
My Samsung S4 is a poor excuse for a camera.
This morning we took on tow, a couple of local guys in a small wooden boat who had drifted down river and must have shot a cow with their .22 rifle they had with them.
There was a pile of red meat in the bottom of the 13 ft open boat, similar to the new one we were towing.
They said they had drifted down stream hunting, this was the way to get home.
Later the impeller on the engine was not expelling enough water, so we pulled in and secured a line to a tree. This was soon rectified, and we moved on. An hour more up the river we unhitched the two guys in the boat, they rowed ashore to their little farm house on the shores.
They were greeted by children, dogs, chooks and much jubilation. Obviously aside from their safe return, the meat had been sighted piled in the bottom of the well used boat.
They told me it was only five years old. It was incredibly well worn with many makeshift repairs visible. Bailing water kept the middle aged, also well worn man in the wooden boat very busy.
They probably slipped down stream every time they needed meat and poached a beast from one of the estancias. One may guess the land owners would not lose too much sleep over the odd cow feeding their less fortunate neighbours on the river.
The people we do see alongside the river are living a subsistence life with small garden patches, always a small work boat tied up to the shore and a very humble house.
Much of the way here has been without a phone signal, so it is fairly isolated one could assume.
Almost all vistas into the Chaco contain palms in the vegetation, it is a kind of cabbage palm and quite tall, many are solitary. All the while clumps of Camalota are making passage, potentially to the Atlantic Ocean, though many must get snagged or broken up on their journey with an unknown end.
Very much like life for us, in this respect.
Talking with people the other day, we were discussing the concept that if you knew you were going to die in a years time, would you change what you are doing.
Most people would not wake up and go to work the next morning, we agreed on that.
Myself, given this knowledge. Nothing would change, though maybe an upgrade in my accommodation on occasions. Nothing stupid!!
It is nice my present lifestyles requires no other wants or needs, both materially or otherwise.
The problem is living to damn long!! Especially without good health. The money can’t last forever!!
I’m gladly resigned to the fact I will have to work again another day. Maybe a little business would do me fine? Near a beach? Who knows??
Right now, as said before I do not want to waste these precious years working.
Hopefully, I will want for little, after this need to travel and experience how others occupy their lives in different environments is out of my system. Though the longer it is pursued, the more enjoyable it is becoming.
I had my first shower for a few days, it was taken today in the toilet come shower area. It involved filling a 20L pail from the river, using a cup to wet oneself and remove the shampoo and soap. It was great to be freshened up for our imminent arrival in Concepción. I even had a shave for the occasion.
Nikki has just put a heap of beef on the BBQ. This was eaten with pleasure accompanied with rice and bread.
The guys onboard all get on well, it really is a good life for them plying this huge river here in the heart of South America as Paraguay is often called.
A small country with a big heart, the people encountered so far only reinforce that comment.
Life in many of these countries is as was experienced by my parents in the 50’s and 60’s and myself in the seventies and eighties.
There are few rules governing how you should live, people are time rich, life moves with not much preoccupation about the future. These are times lost in most western countries.
My travels have increased my awareness how time is such a precious asset. It is so nice to have enough of it, that some can be allocated to doing very little.
Its abundance allows me to be more aware of all around me. Mindfulness is often the term used.
Peoples frantic lives rob them of this state. Like almost everything in our busy worlds. People are there to sell this concept.
Its not tangible, it can’t be sold, we have to create this state ourselves. Presently, I am no expert at its creation and state, but am progressing comfortably.
Once in Concepción, the guys dropped me off using their tender, they have another 24 hrs on the river to get to Caleria Tres Cerro.
It was a fantastic 2 days experiencing life on the river.
In town, two huge ice creams were bought and enjoyed just taking in the feel of Concepción, 80,000 people live here, so it is not huge.
Great accommodation on the water front was found at the Hospedaje, Estrella del Norte.
The family said ‘ mi casa es su casa”.
So here I am chatting and typing over a beer with Carolina, the wife of the owner.
She speaks clear Spanish and has a great sense of humour. Out the front window is the waterfront, the most exhilarating sunset has just finished its display, finally winding up in a shade of pink.