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Andean Adventures Part 1

It's Sunday night and we're just getting our first chance at internet access. Our apologies to family and friends. To recap: We're in the city of Puno today and should arrive in Arequipa some time tomorrow afternoon. We've had no car problems or mishaps. Thank God!

Here's part 1 of our Andean Adventures (Thursday and Friday's events). We started our journey at .m. We drove 866 km on our first day, stopping half way in Asuncion to see cousin Mateo and treat him out for his 5th birthday next week. The Chaco Paraguay is divided into three regions. The "bajo" or low Chaco, the central and the "alto" or high Chaco. Web_chaco_paraguay_2

Here's a picture of the high Chaco, right before crossing the border.

The further north you travel, the more barren and desolate. We spent the night with a friend in Philadelphia, the Mennonite-pioneered region. They settled in the 1920s amidst doubts from the Paraguayan government of their survival. Not only did they survive in the extreme conditions of the Paraguayan desert, they have an almost first-world society (with the exception of the dirt roads in the city) with their own airport and industry.

We started our day out early on Friday. We crossed the border into Bolivia about 10 a.m. The customs officials in Paraguay didn't even stamp our passports-even after we asked them to, which caused us some problems in Bolivia. They were too busy eyeing our rope. Finally, they asked if they could use a piece for their hammock. Since it was long, Norb cut off a few meters for the customs workers. They don't get too much business up there in the desert, obviously.

We had TERRIBLE road conditions driving the first into Bolivia. If it had been rainy, we would have never passed. The border police gave us problems and we ended up having to wait 2.5 hours to cross, get visas, and "pay" the pompous officials for their services. It was not a zippity-do-da-day moment.

We arrived in Santa Cruz after nightfall after stopping 17 times for tolls and police "collaboration" fees. In other words, we're helping their chicha habit. Sigh. We learned around stop number 10 that you don't give them what they ask (20 Bolivianos) you just give them 1 or 2 Bolivianos to support their efforts in the country

Timmy's been a SUPER traveler! He does puzzles, reads books, watches Veggie Tales and sleeps on the mattress in the back prepared for weary travelers. It's nice and cozy! Thanks for your emails and your continued prayers for us on the road. We're truly enjoying God's beatiful creation in South America.


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