BEAM ME DOWN, SCOTTY
Sunday 18 January 1998
23 43' S 62 37' W
Ugh, what's that horrible smell?
COUNTRY AND REGION
You are in Formosa. No, not the country that is now called Taiwan but the huge province in northern Argentina.
NATURE OF THE TERRAIN
You are stuck in a huge, hot and humid stinking swamp, just a stone's throw away from a putrid river.
About 350 metres - and sinking.
Apart from the quicksand and the poisonous snakes, there's so much methane bubbling away here that any naked flame could cause an explosion. Flash floods are not uncommon, which is why the local village looks like a Third World parody of Venice.
Although Argentine Spanish is the country's national language, around these parts a good working knowledge of the Guarani, Tobas and Matacos tongues will stand you in good stead with the locals.
TAKE ME TO YOUR LEADER
The man with the sideburns - Carlos Menem.
LIKELY WEATHER CONDITIONS
Summer is brutally hot and humid, while there can be occasional frosts in winter. Expect lots of rain at any time.
REASONS FOR HANGING AROUND
None, unless you're an anthropologist interested in the sad demise of the indigenous people.
GETTING THE HELL OUT OF THERE
Wade due south for 10 miles and you should stumble across National Route 81. This is, of course, welcome but the bad news is that at this time of year it has almost certainly been washed away. The only vehicles that you are likely to see on the road will be fancy four-wheel drives driven by American missionaries who will gladly give a potential convert a lift to the airport in Formosa City, some three to four days away.
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