The Cacique II, a Floating Portobello Road

Trip Start Dec 07, 2005
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Trip End Apr 10, 2007


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Flag of Paraguay  ,
Thursday, April 6, 2006

we got up at 545 this morning, and made it onto the bus--after a final cold shower at the Hotel Ysapy--with all our stuff. we didn{t get many looks from the rush hour crowd, but iīm sure we werenīt fitting in very well with our huge backpacks on the crowded bus.

we made it down to the Cacique II by 6 am and we were on board by 610. people were busy loading the boat when we got on, and the sun was already coming up. another pair of backpackers got on board, which made us feel like we might have some companionship other than the chickens and barrels of gas that our guidebook talked about. we setteled in on a pair of wooden chairs and waited for the boat to cast off. our packs were stashed on top of a pair of the Cacique IIīs freezers, and there were crates of bananas and peppers, bags of onions, boxes, and barrels piled on either side of the open-air cabin.

we cast off just after 7am, and people were loading stuff on right until we left port. we tried to sleep, but it wasnīt happening on the hard wooden seats. so we rented hammocks for $1 and the guy who seemed to be the first mate put the up for us.

the trip took just over 30 hours, and it was a lazy couple of days. Daniela chatted with Helen and Justo (the aforementioned fellow backpackers) for awhile. Helen is from Ireland and Justo, who seemed to be an energetic fellow, is from Spain. I spent much of the time listening to music and watching the river go by.

Every so often the Cacique II would pull up close to the shore, the crew would toss a plank towards the beach, and people would gingerly come aboard with cargo bound for concepcion and points beyond. sometimes the people stayed on and sometimes they just deposited their stuff.

Shortly after the sun went down, we became dinner for some hungry mosquitoes. we put on bug spray, but the mosquitoes didnīt seem to care. none of the locals on board had bug spray, and daniela offered some of ours to a lady with several children. Daniela had also offered them some cookies from a freshly opened package earlier in the day, and they took the whole package. ha. we got our ineffectual bugspray back, though.

we spent an almost sleepless night in our hammocks, as it got a lot colder than we were expecting and we only had an airline blanket between the two of us. plus there were a couple of bright flourescent lights shining all night in the cabin. luckily we were only on board for one night.

for breakfast we cut open a small box of chocolate milk we had brought and poured in some cereal. i spent the morning above deck catching up on journal entries while a couple of the little kids on board asked me what i was writing and commented that iīd been writing for some time and gee, wasnīt i bored of writing? i think they were pretty bored of being trapped on board by this point, and their mom was trying to keep them from climbing up and down every inch of the ship.

Just after lunch (rolls and jelly we had brought), we pulled into concepcion. we got all our stuff together and i took a last look at all the cargo on the Cacique II: dozens and dozens of eggs, crates of fruit, bags of onions, a kitten that someone forgot in a box, cylinders of compressed gas, 50 gallon drums of fuel, bicycles, motorscooters, refrigerators, and more stuff in the forward cabin that i couldnīt see.

i wasnīt quite sure how we were going to get off the boat at concepcion; there was a large crowed gathered on the shore, and everyone was inching foward ominously as the boat got closer. i thought we were going to have to push our way through like linebackers. but the crew rigged up two gangplanks so people could get off via one and on via another. so we carefully walked across the narrow planks and said goodbye to life on the Rio Paraguay.
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