One Crazy Travel Adventure Remembered ….. And How I Eventually Discovered Bhutan! (Episode 3)

One Crazy Travel Adventure Remembered ….. And How I Eventually Discovered Bhutan! (Episode 3)

A cool & wet Sunday morning in Montevideo, Uruguay

Uruguay, Brazil & Paraguay
02-04 SEP 2002.

One crazy travel adventure remembered – episode 3.

30 year old Mercs, and failed racing car drivers, are clearly prerequisites for a taxi licence in Montevideo. Our first taste of what was to become the most dangerous part of our quest, the taxi transfer from airport to hotel!

Early next morning, a bleak and dreary Sunday, we wandered the streets of downtown Montevideo. We were on our mission to find a child to ask about their dreams. 13 year old Daniel Soltero was riding shotgun on an old wooden cart laden with cardboard and pulled by an old nag. ‘What’s the point of dreaming?’ was Daniels response. Collecting & selling unwanted cardboard for a living was a tough gig at best.

Cars with loud-speakers patrolled the streets, coercing reluctant Catholics to come to church. We had an excuse; we had a plane to catch.

Cardboard collectors Daniel Soltero & brothers

Our Air Pluna (sadly no longer operating) flight from Montevideo to Sao Paulo, Brazil, was fortunately short. A Brazilian band sitting down the back took all their instruments on board, including a drum kit, and were fighting other passengers to cram their gear into the overhead lockers and anywhere else there was a space. We decided fighting for our rights would be ill-advised and spent the flight with our backpacks on our knees.

Our brief overnight stay in Sao Paulo was more than enough. Heavily polluted and boasting a population (then) of over 18 million, and about 3 trees, it is far from an attractive city. At the airport we asked 5 different families if we could interview and photograph a child. No, no, no, no, no. Mmmm, no ‘child dreams’ from Brazil.

Asuncion, Paraguay. Gianna on violin.

Asuncion, capital of Paraguay, proved a more attractive & interesting spot. Our taxi to the city had no brakes and the driver used his gears as a substitute. He managed to stop at our hotel by running into the curb. Nice work.

Meandering through the leafy avenues of the city we stumbled upon a Performing Arts School where we met 3 children, all 13, for our ‘dreams’ session. Gianna “I want to be a famous violinist”; Maria “I dream to be a professional ballet dancer” and Diegdluis “Please, please just take my photo”.


Asuncion was also the city where we could apply for a Cuban visa. We had three passports each and before the Quest we sent one to Wellington, NZ, to do the round of embassies and consulates there; one to Canberra, Oz, to do the rounds there and the third we sent to London, UK, to do the same. That collectively accounted for about 75% of the visas we needed before entering those countries that required them. The remaining 25% we would have to ‘wing it’ as we travelled. And we did with some amazing results.

The Cuban embassy staff were happy to sign our log book

One crazy travel adventure remembered – episode 3. To be continued.

Article by James Irving – Bhutan Travel Expert

James Irving Bhutan Travel Expert

James has worked in the travel industry for over 40 years & has been involved in the leisure, corporate, group, sport, incentive & wholesale travel genres.

James loves rugby union, and keenly supports the Queensland Reds and the Australian Wallabies.