Curitiba – Maringa
We left Bruno’s house in Curitiba as the first rays of sun were breaking through, hoping to have enough time to reach Ciudad del Este in Paraguay, right on the border with Brazil. Since we didn’t find anyone to take us to Foz do Iguasu, we decided to head straight to Paraguay without visiting the famous waterfalls.
We walked to the Curitiba bus station and caught a bus to a small town, thinking it would be more convenient to hitchhike from there. The weather was overcast and rainy. We were still half-asleep when we got off the bus and headed straight for the road. The rain intensified as we walked, and no cars stopped for us. We began to lose hope of catching a ride. Eventually, we decided to find shelter from the rain since it was turning into a downpour. Unfortunately, there were no roofs, awnings, or gas stations nearby. We reached a roadside cafe and asked if we could take refuge there until the rain eased up, but they replied with a firm “No.”
We were honestly shocked and had no choice but to venture back out into the rain and stand by the road. We had been waiting at this spot for one and a half hours, watching cars speed by at a breakneck pace. In their wake, a comet’s tail of tiny raindrops trailed. Soon, to our immense relief, a truck with Bolivian license plates pulled over.
There were two men in the truck, and they were headed not to Paraguay but to Bolivia, which meant taking a slightly different route. We decided to go with them to the city of Maringa because we didn’t want to stay out in the rain. While we were on the road, the sun came out. However, we only reached Maringa at sunset, and it was too late to continue hitchhiking.
In this city, we tried contacting a guy on Couchsurfing who said he might be able to host us. However, we weren’t sure if we would come to this city, so we didn’t make a definite arrangement. When we messaged him later to say we were coming, he didn’t respond. Hostels were expensive, and we had no choice but to look for a place to set up our tent.
After having dinner at a bus stop near one of the supermarkets, we checked one more time to see if he had read our message, but there was still no response. So we decided to sleep in a cornfield right by the road where the Bolivians dropped us off. The sunset was incredibly beautiful! With full stomachs and content hearts, we fell asleep to the sound of passing cars.
From Maringa to Foz do Iguasu. Uber and an ambulance
Getting out of Maringa turned out to be quite a challenge. We had to walk a long way through the entire city. For some reason, this city reminded us of the Mad Max movie because it was filled with auto repair shops and parts stores. Along the way, we bought some fruits and had a second breakfast.
Despite being on the highway, catching a ride was very difficult. It was scorching hot, and as hours passed with no one stopping, we started losing hope of getting anywhere. It felt like an eternity, and I couldn’t help but feel frustrated. In that moment, we made a decision never to hitchhike again. Little did we know!
As we were about to give up and walk along the highway, my wish for a quicker mode of transportation was granted. Two men in a car didn’t want to give us a ride but instead handed us money, which was just enough for us to use a “BlaBlaCar” to get to Foz do Iguasu.
We spent quite some time looking for a driver and then waiting at a gas station. We had some pastries and coffee there. Vasya even managed to take a shower. Most gas stations in the area offer free showers, mainly used by truck drivers. There was a women’s shower, but unfortunately, it was locked.
Our driver arrived after dark, and we hit the road again. I slept almost the entire way. I opened my eyes when Vasya turned to me, saying he didn’t feel well and needed the car to stop. The driver said he would stop in about five minutes, but Vasya insisted that he needed it now.
However, we were passing through an intersection, and there was no suitable place to stop. We finally pulled over at the next available spot. Vasya unfastened his seatbelt, opened the door, stood up, lost consciousness, and fell out of the car.
The roadside had a slight slope, and the grass was high and soft, so Vasya didn’t get injured. I immediately jumped out and, not fully understanding what had happened, started shaking him. I was in shock.
The driver was equally stunned and immediately called for an ambulance. At that moment, an emergency medical vehicle happened to pass by, so the driver waved them down, and they stopped. Vasya regained consciousness, and the medics started asking what had happened. They put Vasya on a stretcher, gave him an injection, and began asking questions to understand the details of the incident.
Vasya wasn’t feeling any better, so they decided to take him to the hospital. The driver and I followed the ambulance to the hospital, which was only five minutes away. When we reached the emergency room, they placed Vasya on a bed and inserted an intravenous drip, speculating that he might have eaten a bad fruit on an empty stomach. He was put on a drip for about one and a half hours.
We were fortunate that the BlaBlaCar driver turned out to be a kind person who waited for Vasya along with me. However, the wait felt like an eternity. I was extremely worried and didn’t know what would happen. The driver occasionally tried to engage in conversation and comfort me.
After Vasya finished the IV drip, he emerged looking fresh and feeling much better. The doctor assured us that there was no need to pay anything; it was all free. He advised us to buy an energy drink like “Gatorade,” which, of course, we never purchased.
The driver took us to Ciudad del Este, well past midnight when we arrived. We got off near some hotel, intending to go inside so that he wouldn’t be concerned about us. However, there was nobody at the hotel’s reception when we entered, so we decided to head into Paraguay.
We crossed the border and reached a 24-hour fast-food restaurant. We asked for “Wi-Fi,” bought coffee, and sat down to wait for the sunrise. Meanwhile, Vasya received a message from a client who had been bombarding him with endless revisions for the past half month.
The revisions were straightforward but quite petty, as if she was constantly nitpicking. Moreover, they were unpaid, consuming a lot of time. This was yet another round of revisions. Vasya was fed up and finally stated his fee for the work. However, the client reacted as if he owed her money, turning the situation around. After all this, Vasya couldn’t contain his frustration and voiced what he really thought of her.
Such adventures! In five years of traveling, we’d never encountered any health issues. Fortunately, Brazil has free healthcare and excellent doctors. As for clients, such situations were quite common. Interestingly, Bruno had hosted two Russian girls who were also hitchhiking and traveling. They left on the same day we arrived. We managed to establish contact with them, and they told us that they had been picked up by an ambulance while hitchhiking. Nastya and I joked that maybe an ambulance would pick us up too, and that’s what happened. It’s funny how sometimes thoughts materialize. It would have been better if something good materialized that quickly!
From Paraguay with love,
Nastya and Vasya