That's right. I said the second time is the harm in Paraguay, not charm. My quick return trip there was anything but charming.
After enjoying the Jesuit ruins, I should not have gone back. Let's start in Iguazu Falls.
It is there that I crossed back into Paraguay, this time to Ciudad del Este, one of the ugliest cities I have ever seen.
There are no hostels there, just cheap, dirty hotels for people on a budget, as I was.
I could not keep the mosquitos out of my room, and in Paraguay, these blood-sucking bastards are known for carrying dengue fever.
After a terrible night's sleep, I decided it was time to move on, to head off to Asunción, the capital, where I figured there would be a lot to do, being that it's the biggest city in the country.
I was wrong.
Compared to other parts of the country, sure, it was lively.
But after experiencing other South American capitals, it was quite a disappointment.
Asunción is a poor man's Montevideo, a place with some fantastic architecture, a few museums, and maybe a bit of nightlife, but that's it.
Paraguayan food is nothing special either.
I was there during the winter, and it was still disgustingly hot and humid and overcast the whole time with occasional showers that did nothing to cool the place off, not really.
Like Ciudad del Este, the mosquitos were everywhere, and it was hard to sleep at night.
I still cannot believe, to this day, that I did not get dengue fever from the trip.
I was easily bitten more than 50 times between the two cities, probably closer to a hundred, even though I brought bug repellent with me.
We spent one day walking around the city, taking in the historic district, including the partially pink presidential palace, and one night on the town.
The locals were not particularly friendly to us.
They kept staring at us, but unlike in Colombia, when saying hi starts a conversation or a friendship, it led to more blank looks from the locals.
But we had a good group, other than one girl who complained about every place she had ever visited, and we had a good time.
Then the morning came when I found out my camera had been stolen. I think it was one of the guests, probably the one who left that day. Oh well. S*#t happens.
But the most frustrating part was trying to leave the country.
Because on this trip, I acquired a Visa before entering, I didn't pay much attention at customs.
It turns out they pulled a trick I'm sure they've done on others: they didn't stamp my passport.
As I left, the customs officials at the Asunción border said they would detain me for entering illegally.
I pleaded with them to let me go that I would never do that, that I paid for a Visa, and I didn't realize the customs officials didn't stamp my passport, and then it became clear this was all part of the plan.
One official asked me how much money I had on me. Thankfully, it was only 104 Argentine pesos and a few Guaraní, the Paraguayan currency, altogether $26 or so.
They told me I could leave if I gave it to them, so I did.
Every time I flip through my passport and see only three stamps for Paraguay, it reminds me that any backpacking trip can indeed be an adventure.
Planning a trip? Go Backpacking recommends:
- G Adventures for small group tours.
- World Nomads for travel insurance.
- Hostelworld for booking hostels.
- Rail Europe for train passes.
Sunday 25th of June 2017
Wow, $26? You're lucky. I crossed the border with an American who did not have a visa. The guards wouldn't give him a transit visa stamp unless he paid US$50. Even when he said he doesn't have cash, they made him go to a nearby ATM to withdraw cash. It was interesting to see the whole event unfold.
KARINA PEÑA SANTACRUZ
Wednesday 22nd of April 2015
I´d never laughed so hard, with tears pouring everywhere regarding your trip to Paraguay. Sorry, that all those things happened to you. Can you imagine us living here in ¨Paraguay not only two days but everyday?. I know some other countries will compensate your hard time here. BUT ABOVE OF ALL you made me laugh so much!!! Thank you.....and one more time SORRY for all the inconveniences!!
Tuesday 21st of April 2015
Hi Ryan, I was in Argentina and Uruguay last months and curious about what Paraguay has to offer. Glad I didn't go there, reading your report! :)