Ciudad del Este Travel Blog› entry 2 of 25 › view all entries
After a 16 hr bus ride from Sao Paulo, I arrived in Foz de Iguazu, Brazil, one of the three cities on the tripple frontera (where the three borders of Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay meet). So, as according to plan, I crossed the border into Paraguay just to see what this coutry was all about. I talked with a cool taxi driver and he said he would bring me only for a few reais, so, of course, I went.
First of all, the customs, if you can even call it that, was a joke. I wrote my name and passport number on a piece of paper, not even my nacionality or anything else, and then handed it to some guy in the middle of the street mixed in with all the other street vendors. He scribbled what it looked like a signature and handed it back without even looking at my info. So, we continued into the center of the city.
The center is, as the Argentines would say, a quilombo! In other words, a mess, its packed with people, street vendors, stores and tiny set-up-and-go shops. You see, Ciudad del Este is natorious for having pirated and stolen goods that you can buy for cheap. People from all over S America come to shop. Apart from all the people and stores, everything is covered with huge advertisements, Nike, Toshiba, Panasonic, you name it, advertisement covers the whole center. Also, the majority of the writting was in either Korean or Chinese, there were more Asian languages and oriental people than Spanish and latinos, pretty cool.
Theres a huge Asian influence buecause a lot of them come to sell products imported from their home country. They are either pirated or stolen, but their are some legit real products too, however, it is still all illegal. Also, there is a huge Arab and Turk influence, they are there pretty much for the same reason as the Orientals. Ciudad del Este is an international hub for drugs, arms, organ and human trafficking and money laundering. It is also believed to have the most Al Queda operatives in the Western Hemishpere and is a financial center for other extremist groups. Its by far the most sketchy city I have ever seen in my life. However, and probally for that reason added with the diversity, I kind of liked it! It was like a mini Asia in the middle of South America, go figure... A prime example of globalization!
After a few hours in Paraguay, I decided that it would be a good idea just to go on through to Buenos Aires, enough pirated goods, street vendors and god knows what other vendors was enough for a few hours. Talk to you in Buenos Aires!