Welcome to Brazil
In the previous entry, I had managed to make my way into Brazil with some “work arounds” to avoid their new policies. Brazil itself was an enjoyable experience. Restrictions were fairly looser then they were in Mexico so me being me, I wanted to take advantage of the looser restrictions. That involved going and seeing the sights that were available in the country. One of the major attractions of Brazil was the Iguazu Falls, one of the largest waterfalls in the world. It was said to be open so I just had to go check it out.
At the time I was based in Sao Paolo, Brazil which is a long 18 hour bus to where the falls are located. That wasn’t much of an issue, I just checked with a tour agency to make sure they are actually open and off I went. Getting there was without too much issue and besides just the falls, there was also something else I was curious about. And that was glimpsing the bordering nations of Paraguay and Argentina.
Now according to official websites, these countries were closed to outsiders. But I was so close I could touch it, so I just had to go see for myself. First stop was Paraguay.
The streets of Foz do Iguacu (border town between the 3 countries and situated near the falls) were quiet. Even more so when approaching the Brazil/Paraguay border. There was a bridge separating the 2 countries and I wanted to see how close I could get before I was stopped. This was not my first land border crossing so I had an idea on what I needed to do. I went to the building where the passport control officers were and asked if they spoke English. Limited, they said. I showed them my US passport and asked if I would be permitted to cross. The answer was no.
Still, I wasn’t they type to give up so easily, I could see the Paraguayan flag waving in the distance. I wanted to see how close I could walk until I was stopped. As I got closer, 3 heavily armed Brazilian military personnel were standing at the border. I waved to them and asked if they spoke English. One of them did well enough. I asked him if I could walk on the bridge. He gave me a long look, then a nod. Saying I could walk up until the middle before heading back. Happily I did so, as I proceeded towards the bridge. I heard someone shouting at me behind my back.
I turned around to see a fourth officer appear. He began arguing with the previous officer that allowed me to pass before superseding the previous decision. I was told to go back to Brazil. Disappointed I did.
The next day was the walk to Argentina. I was advised that the border region between passport control and the actual border was dangerous, filled with people preying on passerbys like myself. I went anyways. The passport control building was empty and I passed through it unopposed. From there I was able to walk up to mere meters away from Argentinian soil. Standing in front of me was a masked (unarmed) Argentinian border guard. Through the skillful use of Google Translate, we were able to communicate. He informed me that the border was closed to maybe next year. I left having known this from a first hand recount with boots on the ground.