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Should I Stay or Should I Go?

Asuncion, ParaguayParaguay is an interesting place to travel simply because no one else travels here. The infrastructure is not set-up for tourists. It’s barely set-up for its own citizens. The idea that someone wants to visit Paraguay seems to baffle its own citizens. ‘Paraguay? Why are you here?’ they ask. Stuck between three of South [...]

Asuncion, Paraguay

Paraguay is an interesting place to travel simply because no one else travels here. The infrastructure is not set-up for tourists. It’s barely set-up for its own citizens. The idea that someone wants to visit Paraguay seems to baffle its own citizens. ‘Paraguay? Why are you here?’ they ask. Stuck between three of South America’s more interesting countries to travel the country is not on people’s radar; Brazil, Argentina and Bolivia. It wouldn’t be on my radar if I wasn’t already in the region. I wanted to give the country a fair chance at proving itself and allowing me make my up my own mind so while in Cordoba I paid the $65 for the visa and have been wandering around this forgotten country for the past week and a half and I can see why it’s overlooked.

After Laguna Blanca and the craziness of Cidad del Este I’m not sure what else will be holding my attention here.

From Asuncion 2011-04
One of the moments that I found worth taking a photo of. A pig running across
the lawn of the national palace. Akin to a random pig running across the White
House lawn.

I judge my personal interest in a place based upon how often I feel the urge to take out my camera and snap a photo. Asuncion hasn’t had me reaching for my camera very often and I’m ready to move on. Unfortunately it’s Semana Santa and everyone else in Latin America is traveling at the moment so I wasn’t going to move on until Friday. I went to the bus station to buy a ticket on Thursday night for Friday to find out that everything is shut down on Friday. No stores, no bars, no buses. The city has turned into a ghost town and I’m stuck in the middle of it. After Asuncion I had originally planned on making the trip to Encarnacion but I’m beginning to feel I’ve had my fill of Paraguay and aimlessly strolling its city streets. A seven hour bus ride to visit another city and some Jesuit ruins just doesn’t seem like it’s worth the time and expense. I had also debated traveling to the northwestern part of the country to the Chaco region but traveling around that area isn’t easy outside of its few towns. The region comprises 60% of Paraguay’s land but only 3% of its population – Needless to say it gets real remote real fast. The remoteness and the boundless wildlife of the area is what originally peaked my interest but upon further thinking my desire to travel to the area was overruled by my lack of desire at the moment to deal with insanely hot temperatures, almost no transportation and being stranded in a place where the nearest house is 100 kilometers away. I think I hear northern Argentina, the Atacama desert and Bolivia calling my name instead.

It is nice being in a country where tourists are unexpected though. I am always approached by locals wondering where I’m from and looking to strike up a conversation. Not knowing any Spanish would be a problem here.

The country also reminds me a lot of Central America. Old, loud buses, suicide showers, Spanish colonial architecture, being bombarded on buses by people selling food and chickens wandering around everywhere. It’s only missing a large abundance of stray dogs.

That’s not to say that Paraguay doesn’t have a distinct culture of its own. Like Uruguay, Argentina and Chile maté is the drink to drink. But, unlike the previously mentioned countries, they drink it cold and add in some type of medicinal herb as well adding a little twist. For just over a dollar you can grab a jug of ice water and cup of maté from small stands in any park sipping away the afternoon and people watching.

From Asuncion 2011-04
Cold maté and the jug of ice water to go along with it. Not too bad.

Those people walking by that I spend my day watching are usually doing the same as me – drinking mate. If they’re not trying to sell me something or munching on chipa bread. The country is chipa bread crazy and outside of Paraguay I’m not sure if you can find it. My first experience with the stuff was on a bus from Ciudad del Este to Laguna Blanca. It’s made from manioc flour, eggs, and cheese and has a unique flavor that goes well with a Coke. I see it sold on every street corner, every local mini-market, and every bus ride.

Paraguay is an interesting place but I think I’m ready for some more of the comforts that Argentina provides before moving further north.

Photos of Asuncion

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Filed under: Cubicle Ditcher, Paraguay

About the Author:

Sam Langley left a comfortable and profitable job with an insurance company in the USA to travel the world. He has been going for years, and has not stopped yet. Keep up with his travels on his blog at Cubicle Ditcher. has written 147 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.