The sorbo rubber pillow that feels like it’s been stuffed with foam boulders, a thin mattress that can’t disguise the wooden slats below. A mosquito net that excludes the bugs and any air that the stratospherically-mounted fan manages to disturb. These buildings suck up the heat throughout the day, building an oven that slowly dissipates in the dark, like a night storage heater. The vague sense of cool only arriving with the crowing cocks and the first glimmer of light in the east. Then the cycle sets off again, a slow but persistent incremental increase in warmth with each day. Yet for the price of three bottles of soda we have a place out of the direct sun. It’s only when The Navigator mentions the room rate that I query her. We’ve passed several ’Motels’ that advertise this same charge, only it’s for a couple of hours. She hesitates for a moment, a small doubt is writ large. "no, I asked for una noche, I know I did. Anyway there’s two beds, no shower, no towels, no car port curtain. We’re alright."
‘Motel’: Paraguayan style, is part of an industry spawned from a lack of privacy offered to most local couples. They’re not what we had assumed on that first day in the country last time, as we blundered in like true gringos, missing the tell-tale signs of eponymous names like: ’Kiss’ or ’Venus y Amour’, or the high privacy walls painted with love hearts. Yet I can’t help but note a steady inflation in the ‘love room’ market; the rates have remained constant, it’s the duration that has dropped. Still, you could use your loyalty card to help defray costs. For the Virgen de Caacupe pilgrimage in early December, householders along the route sell cooked meats and serve cold drinks to the observants, and one motel offers a ‘quarter hour’ rate, which has led to the axiom: ‘they came as two and left as three’.We, if we want a half-decent night’s sleep will need to seek out the ‘habitacion con aire’; that, or find some elevation. Some 3,000 metres of it. Time to start heading west, heading for the Andean Puna.