“Don’t go to Paraguay. Paraguay is boring.” Nothing to do in Paraguay…”.
There is a negative perception on Paraguay throughout South America. Even from locals and hostel workers wo always question why Paraguay? For me, this is perfect. Why? There is no expectation. I can make my own trip without the backpacker tick box list that everyone seems to only talk about. The guide book recommendations. The ‘must see’s’. Well, Paraguay had a couple, but not many backpackers go here, so for me, it was a new egg to hatch. A new place to re-discover, a new place to find something new.
Crossing from Iguazu, the standards soon drop I have to admit. I got to the bus terminal of Ciudad Del Este, and dozens of bus ticket salesman heckling me from all angles for a ticket to Asuncion. I reacted with “Tranquilo, tranquilo”. I never expected that, it was like Asia again. One guy tried to throw my bag on until I stopped him. Straight to Asuncion was the order of the day though. The journey took 7 hours ish on a old sweaty, dirty bus. Which made millions of stops. It wasn’t like a direct coach, almost a coach that picked up and stopped anywhere possible. It was annoying given it was only 4-5 hours distance away.
Small and compact, I walked around this city for 2 days to find it was actually quite interesting. I particular enjoyed the markets on Rodriguez Francias Avenue. It was like a maze in there. From fruits to Fila trainers, from meats to market electronics, the place had everything. It was very colourful and full of life. Hot, sweaty and cheap. I managed to buy some Adidas tracksuit bottoms, only for them to tear less than a day later by the quality of the material. Nevertheless, I enjoyed some delicious fresh pine juice, some black pudding sausage sandwiches for 1 dollar a piece, and got to mingle with the locals. I loved that and it reminded me of Asia in a good way.
The rest of Asuncion I wandered myself. I ventured down Palma and Estrella street. I bought some market street jewelry which is always a hobbie of mine. I ate in the square park (more sausage sandwiches), I wandered on the outskirts of the slums, headed to the Plaza Asuncion which was structurally breathtaking (and kind of out of place too).
Ciudad Del Este
A town on the boarder of Brazil and Argentina. Full of clothes stores and markets. Home of Itaipu Dam. Itaipu Dam was impressive, huge and man made. I was exhausted to appreciate it in full force though. I managed to shop in the city for a good pair of chino jeans for 10 dollars. I took a fun motortaxi ride throughout before I hopped down to Encarnacion.
Encarnacion & Trinidad
A place which is known for travelers to stay before tripping to Trinidad. Trinidad is fairly close and is noted for where the famous Jesus Tavarangue stands. Encarnacion is a town with lots of decent facilities such as banks, shops, churches and restaurants. However Trinidad was the main feature. Jesus Tavarangue I had actually seen in a guide book as one of the top things to see in South America. There were no tourists there at all! Just me and two other backpackers. The pictures were great though. The Jesus Tavarangue itself was unfinished in its time, but a great monument and had a modern but old historical feel to it. I enjoyed casually strolling between its church like structure.
Mbatovi Eco Reserve
Two hours from Asuncion into Paraguayi, Mbatovi Eco Reserve was one of the main reasons I went to Paraguay. I have turned into a bit of a Jungle freak and wanted one last bit before my trip ended. A 4am wake up call followed by 3 hours of travelling. Then the reserve. The tour cost 35 dollars but was also to Zip Line, Rappel and walk Rope Bridges, aswell as a little jungle hike. It was beautiful to be back in the jungle and it wasn’t long enough for me. I felt the nature and took in the sounds, and embraced it as much as I could.