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Monday, June 8, 2009


We woke up early this morning to drive across Paraguay to Ciudad del Este. It's a long drive, and as we approach the other side of the country we increasingly pass agrobusiness outfits like Cargill, Dreyfus, ADM. We see Mennonite farms with well-kept lawns and houses with corn and soybean and wheat fields that look a lot like South Dakota where I grew up.

We cross the border at Ciudad del Este into Brazil surprisingly without any immigration formalities. We continue on down the road until we arrive at the famous Iguazu Falls. I've been on the Argentine side of the falls, but this is my first time on the Brazilian side. We jump on a bus that drops us off the road where we hike down a trail to catch a better view of the falls, take too many pictures (see, and then come back up. After a short visit, we get back on the bus and head back across the Friendship Bridge across the Parana river to Paraguay.

Before heading back to Asuncion, we made a detour to the Itaipu dam. It is one of the biggest hydroelectric dams in the world, and currently a source of controversy between Brazil and Paraguay. Dictatorships in both countries signed the agreement to build the dam in the 1960s, but the agreement very much favors Brazil. Paraguay wants to negotiate the contract, but Brazil of course is not so interested. The presentation at the visitors center of course skips over all of these politics, as well as the ecological and social disruptions of these large development projects. They want us to believe that everything with the dam is just fine.

After a long drive back across Paraguay, we're finally back at our hotel in Asuncion and very much ready to sleep. Tomorrow is the last full day here.

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