Foz do Iguacu to Paraguay
Ciudad del Este Travel Blog› entry 1 of 7 › view all entries
I had left the previous afternoon from Balneario Camboriu with a Brazilian friend (one of my students from an English class I was teaching). We didn't get much sleep because it was the first time I'd hung out with him outside of the school. We had all kinds of things to talk about and get to know about eachother now that we were traveling together. So because of all the talking in a mix of English and Portuguese we didn't really sleep to much. But we got to the bus station at 6am and got on another bus to take us to the Hostel. There are two hostels in the area by the same name. One is outside the city and the other one is close. As we got further and further from the city we got a little concerned about how easy it was going to be to get food and deal with transportation.
In Talking to the people at the hostel they told us that if we wanted to go to Ciudad del Este, Paraguay we should do that today because all the shops would be closed on Sunday. So we changed our plans and went to Paraguay instead of the falls. Charles was freaked out about taking an American into Paraguay. He had been there before and thought it was dangerous. So we got on a bus to take us to the boarder. I was told not to talk at all. We met a razy old man on the bus who told us the best, easiest way was to walk accorss the bridge. Charles thought we should take a taxi to be safe, but the man insisted that it was safe to walk accross. So we followed him untill I had to go into the boarder control station to get my passport stamped. They stamped an exit stamp from Brazil and then we left and walked accross the birdge. We didn't see any fishy people that looked like they were waiting to rob us. Aparently in years past people would wait on the bridge and robb foreigners. We walked right into Paraguay. There is no control on who they let in. The city starts right on the other side of the bridge and people start shoving things in your face that they want you to buy. We walked quickly and went into one of the first "malls." It was safer in the malls than on the street.
You walk off the bridge and the place is set up to funnel tourists into the main street where there are tents with electronics, socks, shirts etc. and on the other side there are buildings with lots of stores like a little mall selling anything you could imagine. There is no import tax in Paraguay so everything is much cheaper than the neighboring Brazil and Argentina. They have lots of Electronics, fishing gear, kitchen items, brand name clothing and imported alcohol. There are lots of these "malls" right next to eachother.
We would go into the malls where things wern't so crazy. and look around. I was only allowed to talk inside to avoid people trying to sell mare things to me or rob me (even though I had absolutly nothing on me to rob). Poeple in the streets would grab our arms and try and sell us stuff. they would follow us as well. I was told not to look at them, not to talk to them, and just to keep walking. In reality I dont think it was as dangerous as my friend thought. It's not like if someone bugs me trying to sell me something because I'm an American that I was going to shrivel up and die, and most people were trying to sell stuff, not just rob you. But out of respect I did as I was told and avoided finding out what would happen if we started talking to the venders.
One of the stores in a mall showed us the difference between a counterfit Pen Drive and a real one. You couldnt tell the difference except the embossed writing on the real one and the flat writing on the fake. Aparently thats why its better to buy things in the stores because the counterfit didnt actually have any memory. Lots of Brazilians go there to buy things for cheap either for personal use or to bring back to Brazil and sell. We didn't expore to much outside the malls, but I did get to see some filthy alleyways that we're covered in trash. I had been warned that it was a really dirty city.
We headed back to Brazil by mid afternoon because we had had enough of the crazyness. Unfortunatly that was the only part of Paraguay I got to see. I'm convinced that the country is not as ugly, dirty, dangerous, and chaotic as this 1/4 miles that I saw, but thats all I got to experience.
At night Charles (who is studying cooking) made us an amazing meal that looked gormet, but was prepared in a hostel with inadiquate cooking supplies. Delicious!