Glad I came here. Glad I’m leaving.
Took a 5 hour bus ride today from Asuncion to Ciudad del Este, on the border with both Argentina and Brazil. Ciudad del Este has many reputations. One being the center of South America for all things false. Fake electronics, fake cell phones, really anything you’d like. It is known for shopping galore, the Brazilians cross the border every day to buy stuff in Ciudad del Este and head back.
It also has some, be it true or not, reputation as possibly being a dangerous city. Maybe just because it is hectic. A funny rumor is that bin laden lives here. Actually, I did a few google searches and there was a NY Times article in ’98 and ’02 about Al Qaeda having a cell here. Weird. Anyways, I got in the afternoon, and checked out the center area. Literally there are stalls lining the streets selling everything. Most of it is garbage (in my opinion).
I forgot my outlet adapter for my laptop in Asuncion, though. Thank god I was headed to Ciudad del Este, land of cheap street shopping. It took me no more than 15 minutes browsing the cell phone and electrical knick knack stalls to find an adapter that fit, and cost all of $1. Some vendors thought I was crazy and recommended I just cut off the third ground plug…no thanks (not that the electricity is grounded here, but still, I’d like it for when I go back).
Onto foodstuffs. Ciudad del Este is also known for having a ton of Asian people and Arab people, and thus having decent food in these respects. I decided before I got here I was going to have a stab at some Paraguayan Chinese food or Paraguayan Lebanese food. Unfortunately it was starting to get dark before I went out to eat, and I didn’t want to walk around here after dark, so I thought I might just pick up some street food. Well, I saw some guy washing some vegetables in a bucket of water that was brown, so that nixed that idea immediately. I couldn’t find an Asian place, but I found a place with some sort of combo Lebanese Paraguay food. Basically, I ate a lomito, but the meat was cut and cooked a bit different, and wrapped in a tortilla instead of a bun…served with French fries. Love it.
Other random notes. For being such a crappy city, I had to pay $30 for a hotel room. They don’t have hostels here. Probably could have found something cheaper if I really wanted to, but I’d prefer to feel safe haha.
Tomorrow I’ll walk over the bridge to Brazil, about half a mile away. The city is Foz do Iguazu. We’ll see how that goes. I’ll spend the next few days checking out the infamous Iguazu falls before flying to Salvador, Brazil. Pretty excited for a return to shorts weather, brazilian beaches, and 80 degrees (not that it really ever got below 50 degrees in my entire trip, but hey).
I don’t have any pictures of Ciudad del Este. I really didn’t want to bust my camera out in the street, felt a little uneasy doing that already looking like a tourist/gringo.
Other than that, I am totally glad I came to Paraguay. I had two really different but great experiences staying in a tiny little town in the middle of nowhere, and couchsurfing with a family in Asuncion. Paraguay is a cool little country that has a lot more to offer than I would have thought.
They had a barbecue on my final night in Asuncion! With the family, Hugo, Mirtha, dad, and Claudia (minus Eduardo):
Barbecued Appetizers: Chorizo, Morcilla, Mandioca (not a big fan of the last 2)
Hugo cuts one of the cuts of meat:
Learning how to grill Paraguayan style:
Edu playing the guitar (and singing):
Played the harmonica at their request (even though I stink), but Jackie, the spaniel, decided that she didn't want me to play. Smart dog!: