Monday, June 27, 2011

Paraguay: Country #87 on #200.

Last month's visit to Paraguay was special for three diverse but equally important reasons.

1) It was my first time visiting this small land-locked country, thus making it eligible for the list. In the highly competitive game of Counting Countries, Paraguay now ranks as my 87th nation.

2) My friend, who for purposes of protecting the innocent, will only be referred to as Akapero, had recently moved to Asuncion and was, within a short time, firmly entrenched in the expat community. He was a knowledgable and enthusiastic guide whose only payment was the delivery of roughly 100+ pounds of Cuban food and coffee makers. Yes, plural.

Sunday, June 26, 2011


A couple of years ago, when I was in Djibouti, I was told by a hotel concierge that there was chance I could swim with the world's largest fish, the whale shark. I immediately ran to my bag, threw on a swimsuit and began thinking of names for my new aquatic pal. No sooner had I settled on Spot (for obvious reasons) than I was informed that they were going too deep to be able to swim with them. I'd been ditched by the whale sharks.

Years prior to that, I was in the Galapagos swimming with sea lions when the guide told me a story about a time he was leading a group through the same area when a whale shark unexpectedly decided to join them. The guide was new to the area and not familiar with this particular species, so in an inspired show of bravery and leadership, he high-tailed it out of there, leaving a very freaked out group to fend for themselves. I took this as a cue to constantly keep my eyes peeled, certain that I would have my chance to see one. Armed with the knowledge that big as they are, whale sharks are gentle vegetarian plankton eaters, it mattered not one whit to me if the guide chose to stick around or not. Again, I was left wanting. Until now...