On Travel: Clorinda, Argentina

Way back in 1996, The Independent wrote that one doesn't end up in Clorinda, Argentina (also known as "the capital of anaesthesia") by mistake and to start the week off, I'm going to give you a step-by-step "guide of errors" that you must take to find yourself in this sad little blip of a seemingly beautiful country.

Step One: Find yourself in a Central American country (i.e. Nicaragua), planning a very last minute trip to Paraguay (no more than a week advance notice).

Step Two: Get to the remote parts of that Central American country and spend days of your life on a constantly dying iPhone trying to finalize a flight itinerary that doesn't involve you going to 18 separate countries before landing in your destination country. Settle when you are down to only 2 countries.

Step Three: Get back to the capital city from the rural sticks and rush to one final meeting before saying goodbye to said Central American country.

Step Four: Sleep restlessly the night before your flight, wake up at crack hour and start 15 hours +, two layovers, not-enough-wine, journey to Paraguay. Remember, Argentina is NOT your destination, yet!

Step Five: Arrive in Asuncion, Paraguay around 2am, exhausted and in full anticipation of a hot shower. Get to the immigration counter and then have young Rodrigo* tell you that a) you don't have a visa (that you already knew); b) you cannot buy a visa while physically on Paraguayan soil (that you didn't know and no, I'm totally not kidding); and c) that you have to be deported and FLY BACK TO PANAMA! 

Step Six: Die Die Die Die Die

Step Seven: Haggle between Rodrigo and the airline about the fact that a) under zero circumstances are you boarding another flight and b) there HAS to be another solution because CERTAINLY you aren't the first idiot to completely forget about checking the visa requirements of your destination country.

Step Eight: Dear sweet Rodrigo finally gives in after the local representative of your in-country office (yeah, having one of those is essential in this entire story) has emailed him personally to confirm that not only are you legit, but that you will settle your visa debacle asap. Rodrigo stamps a 48 hour transit visa seal on your passport, commands that you go to Paraguay Consulate in Clorinda, Argentina and pull your act together so that he doesn't lose his job by being a nice guy to you!

Step Nine: Obviously by the time this drama is over, the hotel transportation that was waiting for you is long gone. Nevertheless, you get yourself into a cab and at long last you crawl into a bed.

Step Ten: Fast forward to almost 48 hours and one Argentinean national holiday later and there you go...off to Clorinda, Argentina.

Step Eleven: Get to the border, get stamped in seconds to get into Argentina (Paraguay - you see how I said "seconds", right?!), jump in a taxi and 4 miles later, find yourself at the Paraguayan Consulate.

Step Twelve: Wait, Wait, Wait, Wait.

Step Thirteen: Finally get to the window hand over the paperwork and stupidly think that because you are clearly the ONLY foreigner in the joint, this should take a matter of minutes. But no, no, no - the millions of trucks trying to get into Paraguay need to be processed. You are told you will have to wait yet another hour.

Step Fourteen: Grab an uneventful lunch, try to take any photos but sadly find very little of interest.

Step Fifteen: Finally get back to the consulate and shockingly their version of "one hour" is literally only "one hour" because you visa is ready!!! Yay - 5 hours of your life lost, you can now safely return (legally) to your destination country as many times as you like for the next 2 full years!!

And that my friends, is the story of how I:  a) almost got deported out of Paraguay and b) ended up experiencing Argentina - by way of Clorinda - for the first time! The moral of the story being very simple: don't be stupid, check visa requirements so you don't end up in the Clorindas of the world!

Special thanks to: Rodrigo - seriously, I'm not even mad at you for attempting to do your job and deport me - you came through in my sleepy hour of need! Everyone at my local office - literally this would have been even more gross without your support! The random guy at the consulate for making me die of laughter while trying to figure out what language you were speaking (Guarani)! The consulate guy  - because you a) didn't even ask for a bribe which I would have happily forked over, but b) you actually believe that an hour should be an hour - Go Paraguay!!

*Name changed
{Photos: Brandie for Out & About Africa}


kelly jo said...

you didn't check visa requirements? *international traveler*!?!#!

Jorge Ramiro said...

Anyway, it is a good story, because i have travelled some years ago to Argentina and let me tell you that Clorinda is not the usual place that you see if you are a tourist. Is nice to see the country, the real one. If you look for some apartment for rent buenos aires you will see that the classic places are Palermo, Recoleta, San Telmo. It's nice to know some other towns.