04 September 2007

The Chaco at Last

I made it! I got to Filadelfia. It took 57 1/2 hours from Sucre with 12 relatively comfortable hours in Santa Cruz, with a hostal room, shower, etc., and 4 1/2 groggy hours in Asuncion bus station.

Anyway, at 2:30 this morning the third bus delivered me to Filadelfia´s main street, Avenida Hindenburg. I had seen the hotel´s illuminated sign a little way back up the street. You won´t be surprised to know that I was asleep minutes after checking in and didn´t wake up until well after breakfast was over.

The room was air conditioned, with private bathroom and one of those individually wrapped weeny bars of soap laid out on a fresh towel. This is luxury indeed and has cost me US$20, much the most expensive accommodation I have enjoyed in S. America. I have moved to a room "mas economico" for tonight, but I still have access to the swimming pool :-)

Today was gloriously lazy, soaking up the heat. And I didn´t spend a single minute sitting in a bus!

I don´t think I´m technically in the tropics here, but it is very warm and humid. I didn´t mention much how dry the Altiplano is. Since I descended to Sucre I haven´t used the lip balm. By the end of the week I will probably be complaining that it is too hot and too wet.

I´m using the hotel´s computer so I must be quick. I have found a guide to take me to the most remote and beautiful of the Chaco´s national parks. It´s a 3-day trip and costing about 3 weeks´ budget but what the hell? You can´t take it with you.


Mike Theilmann said...

Dear wandering dotard. Have you found the treasure of the Incas yet or has it all just been FARC guerillas and cocaine cartels with the odd glass of mate thrown in for good measure. Talk about your Motorcycle Diaries NOT--this is more Samuel Pepys does the Andes.

Actually I just took a dip in your jottings and must admit that I found your doings of much interest. sorry I haven't been in contact for quite a while but been busy here.

Got back from three weeks holiday in BC on Sunday, August 26. All in all it was a good holiday, especially the two weeks spent in the Okanagon with brother David and his family. It was also nice to see Mum. I looked after her for a few days while she had a pacemaker installed. It was quite amazing--they do it under a local anesthetic of all things and she seems to have made a very rapid recovery. Told her she can now have heart-to-heart talks with Irene and managed to duck the ensuing flung vase.

The weather cooperated most of the time we were there and we did some nice hiking and vineyard visiting.

Sarah got out of rehab about a week before we arrived after having spent four months away from home. I think I told you that her bad leg gave way in the bathroom and she broke the leg. She was iffy about going up to the Okangaon but we persuaded her in the end to come. She was scared of falling again and undoing all her recovery but we told her it would be depressing to sit at home when she could sit up in the Okanagon and at least have family around and good meals and a few laughs (and Tom needed a break as well). In the event, we got her out swimming, did a nice vineyard visit over in Naramata and a dinner out or two. Kate and I also spent the last week in Vancouver with them cooking and getting them out to movies and a day out to Vancouver Island to Butchart Gardens. It was good for their morale because life is tough for them at the moment and not likely to get any easier. Sarah takes 6 tylenol 3s with codeine every day to try and manage the pain and she needs a lot of help transferring from wheelchair to power chair to toilet to bed and so on. Her world has shrunk to a very small space. Pretty grim at age 50 and makes me grateful for what I have. What a miserable disease MS is.

I arrived back with Kate to find that my nephew and niece and my nephew's wife to be had turned up on the Saturday for a ten-day visit and we just saw them off on Monday. And next weekend, as you know, we are expecting your noble son and heir. We intend to take him out to Annapolis on the Sunday to see the bridge, the town and the wildlife area we took you too. I have a busy October coming up with business trips to Windsor, Toronto and Halifax.

I am beginning to look at my next move. My time here is up at the end of next July and I know the time will just fly by. I just threw my hat in the ring for 4 EX 1 (management level) competitions being run by my dept. I don’t want any of them but the way govt HR works now is that you can qualify for the EX pool even if you don’t win the competition and another dept with a vacancy can come along and pick you up without competition. There are two jobs I am keeping a close eye on--one is Regional Director in BC in Victoria and the other is liaison officer for my dept in our embassy in the UK. I was talking to my boss last week about the latter and apparently my dept is pressing ahead with making it happen. I had already expressed an interest and he floated this idea to the powers that be and it was, apparently, favourably received. However, many a slip twixt cup and lip and I shall just have to wait and see. However, four years in the UK is pretty attractive and would be a lovely way to end my Public Service career.

I must go and kick the cat to keep him humble. Safe journeyings and please learn the Spanish for, "I am merely a humble numbers cruncher and I bruise easily so please dont hurt me."

Take care.

Mike and the girls

Bill Heritage said...

Hi Mike

Tried to send this as an email, but Xtra doesn´t want to co-operate.

Thanks for all your news. I enjoy writing the blog, but it tends to be all Bill-to-the-World and not much back the other way.

I have to confess that I do not recognise the reference to Motorcycle Diaries - too lazy to do a Google search - but am flattered that you liken my scribbles, however jocularly, to those of Mr Pepys. Maybe I should pop a copyright notice in!

Yes, Helga and Irene should form a support group. How about the "Bionic Eighty-somethings"? It´s not long since Irene had hers replaced. She outlasted the original technology.

Either you didn´t let me now about Sarah´s broken leg or I forgot. I´m glad that she is out of rehab and able to enjoy a swim and a few wines. I did send a few emails to her and Tom a while ago, but I never got a reply. Are they just too busy - or did I upset someone? I hope it´s not the latter.

In case my mails did not get through, remind them of my love and best wishes. I do think of them and wonder if there is anything constructive I can do. Would Sarah enjoy the blog, or would it just remind her of what she cannot do? Taking Sarah to the Okanagan was a masterstroke.

Last time I was in Vancouver Sarah was in very good spirits, considering everything. Is she still managing to smile or is the MS getting her down now? I wouldn´t blame her in the least. We were fantastically fortunate when Richard was ill that he was so positive all through.

And now he´s 24 and an engineer and taking himself all around the world. Isn´t it great? He won´t thank you for talking about his illness, by the way. He just wants to get on with a normal life. I´m his father and I´m biased but I think his determination to put the cancer behind him and be normal is wonderful. I have warned him that he will enjoy being taken to a Civil War battlefield.

I didn´t know public servants had "business trips". Isn´t it all smarming up to the Yankees and duty-free grog? Mind you, I suppose I should congratulate you on not starting WW3. Yet.

And aiming even higher. Either of the positions you are eyeing up would be very pleasant, I should think. I remember being told that Canada´s homeless gravitate to Vancouver because of the mild winters ;-). PS, how would Maren get to London? I guess there still are ships.

I am hoping to enrol myself as cargo tomorrow and float down the Rio Paraguay to Asuncion. I checked out the Conception port today. No ticket office or anything. The old chap by the port gate told me to roll up at 6am tomorrow and hop aboard. Hmm. Although I don´t do "early" very well, I think I´ll get there before 5 just in case.

And I have a lift to a big annual beano this afternoon. It sounds like a cross between a fun fair and an agricultural show. I hope I don´t fall off the motor bike.

After the Altiplano Paraguay is so enervating. My liquid consumption has skyrocketed and I´m still always thirsty. However, the people are very nice.

Hugs to Maren and Kate and love to all,