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Culture shock

Roughing it up in Paraguay

View MAP OF THE JOURNEY on AnnaMickus's travel map.

If crossing the river at CaraĆ­va took us to fairytale land, crossing the river from Brazil to Paraguay took us to shady bandit land. Right after we crossed the border to the town of Ciudad del Este we noticed the difference. The streets here are dirty and filled with people hanging around, begging for money, trying to sell you something, trying to offer you cab rides etc. And many of them stare at you like they have never seen white people before. I guess they aren't that used to white tourists here.

The atmosphere here is nicely chaotic but it feels a bit tense; it's a bit like India but with a nasty twist. In front of and inside several shops there are guards with shotguns, some of them with their finger ready on the trigger in case something should happen... I guess it will take a while to get confortable with the new culture and habits, at the moment it's not too natural to relax when you walk down the street.

There are a lot of street stalls selling all kinds of cheap crap and people hang around playing loud music and running around "amusing" themselves. We just saw two guys teasing each other, and suddenly one of them pulled the pants down on the other.

We are staying at the strangest place ever; hotel Austria. Not that the hotel is strange per se, but it was a bit strange to enter the lobby of the hotel to hear German drinking songs playing and see people drinking beer from German beer pints made out of porcelain. The lady behind the counter didn't speak English, but German and Spanish, and as our Spanish knowledge only consists of about 2 words at the moment, we had to dig up the German vocabulary that's buried deep somewhere in our brains. Soooo we chit chatted a bit with her and found out that her forfatters had moved to Paraguay around the forties. So probably they were some germans escaping the heat... Come to think of it, this hotel resembles what could have been a meeting place for rich European people in the old days. It has got huge rooms with high walls and impressive wooden furniture.

We think we really impressed the lady behind the counter with our excellent German talents :), because she gave us a huge room on the top floor with two balconies, one facing north and one facing south, giving us good views of the city. And can you believe We even have a jacuzzi! How cool is that?!

In order to get dinner the first night, us and our new Canadian friends took a cab to a restaurant beacause it isn't safe to walk around town once it becomes dark. We went to an Italian restaurant that the personnel in the hotel recommended and it turned out to be a really fancy one. We ended up having a really nice two course dinner with wine and beer for a ridicuously low price. Yes, you read right, we actually had wine. And it wasn't that bad, either. I think we might enjoy here after all...

Posted by AnnaMickus 08:22 Archived in Paraguay

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