After my visit to the Brazilian side of the Iguazu Falls, we kept going to Paraguay. In the morning when I was at the bus station, I asked if the bus to Paraguay is going through Brazilian territory, because in this case Jason could have a problem. The ticket person told me that the bus is not going through Brazil and there is no need for visa.
In the afternoon, when we were buying tickets, to make sure, Jason asked one more time, if the bus is going through Brazil. This time, a different person in the window said yes and that he will need the visa, but that we should talk to a driver. We went to the driver who said that we will cross over a part of Brazil, but if Jason doesn’t plan to stay there he can go without visa. It seemed weird to us, but we decided to risk it. After 10 minutes of riding the bus we got to the Argentinian side of the border. All passengers had to leave the bus to go through the passport control. Before the border guard stamped our passports we asked again about if Jason will have any troubles on the Brazilian side of the border on the other side of the river. The guard looked at me like on a idiot and said that of course he will need a tourist visa to enter Brazilian territory. Our driver overheard the conversation and started to explain something to the border guards. After his explanations, the guards said that in this case it should be ok. We both gave our passports to the guards and received the exit stamps from Argentina. Our magic bus didn’t even stopped on the Brazilian side of the border, it drove through on some special, side line. In this way Jason got into Brazil.
Our bus also passed the Paraguay border and stopped only a few hundred meters after it. The driver said that we had to get out of the bus and walk back to the border. The rest of the passenger stayed on the bus and kept going. We put our backpacks on and went for new stamps in our passports. Ciudad del Este is a very crowdy and chaotic place. We entered the building where border guards where sitting. We gave our passports to one of them. He started to flipping through our passports and asking a lot of questions: why we are going to Paraguay, where in Paraguay are we going to, for how many days. We were answering his questions, when he handed us Jason’s passport back, saying: he’s not going anywhere, because he doesn’t have a visa to Paraguay. Oups, so now we have a problem. Our magic bus was gone and Jason was stuck between two countries he’s not allowed in. Suddenly the guard change the tone of his voice and told us that for 100 american dollars in cash he can give Jason a transit visa. Since we were leaving Argentina, we had no cash on us. The guard said the we can go to the mall on the other side of the road and there is an ATM with US currency. We crossed the street full of cars, motorcycles, street vendors, people exchanging money and of course, dust. When we went through the door of the shopping mall we entered an air conditioned, modern world, so different then this one outside. We were surpised that the ATM had three different currencies, including american dollars. We went back to the border. The guard invited us to a little room, where we gave him the money. With new stamps in our passports we went on our fast 3 day tour around Paraguay.
What is the moral of the story? Primero, always check the visa rules before you go to another country. It might save you a lot of stress and money. Segundo, looks like traveling around South America with Polish passport is more easier and cheaper than with Canadian one. Despite travel visas to Brazil and Paraguay, Jason had to also pay a fee to enter Argentina. In Bolivia where we are going next, Jason will get 30 day entrance stamp, while I will get 90 day stamp. Who would have thought that a Polish passport might be a desire of some Canadians.