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South America by RV: Uruguay, Brazil, and Argentina

My latest trip to South America was meant to be much more than just a return to the continent. Silvio had readied his RV for the three-country excursion, and more importantly, planned particularly enticing meetings with alligators and presidents.

After arriving in Buenos Aires we almost immediately crossed to Uruguay where we spent an hour with José "Pepe" Mujica and enjoyed the beach. Then we drove north into Brazil where Silvio had promised tropical swamps and alligators. After hundreds of kilometres crossing rich farmland and marveling at the country's infrastructure, we came to the pantanal region. The vast swamps of the pantanal were rich with life, and although the tourist trade had slowed to a trickle, we spent our time watching for the sudden animal through the trees and listening for the prehistoric calls of birds.

Between an abortive attempt to cross the Bolivian border and an equally effective attempt at Paraguay, we photographed butterflies and coatis in the world famous Iguazú Falls area, talked to locals and learned about police corruption and cross-border smuggling. Back in northern Argentina we went against the advice of nearly everyone, and set out to explore the poverty-stricken and forgotten provinces of Formosa and Chaco before we turned south to Cordova and Sante Fe. There we spent long days in the mountains before seeing the cousins on our way back to Buenos Aires.

Travelling by motorhome meant that we were more versatile than most tourists. We could pull over at remote vistas and extend a conversation that otherwise a set schedule might cut short. We didn't require anything other than the truck's shower and bathroom, water tanks and refrigerator, and cooking stove and furnace. This is not so much a story about the hardships of traveling as it is a report from the hidden corners of countries that are only accessible when you travel by RV.

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