Countries Visited

Svalbard Spain United States of America Antarctica South Georgia Falkland Islands Bolivia Peru Ecuador Colombia Venezuela Guyana Suriname French Guiana Brazil Paraguay Uruguay Argentina Chile Greenland Canada United States of America United States of America Israel Jordan Cyprus Qatar United Arab Emirates Oman Yemen Saudia Arabia Iraq Afghanistan Turkmenistan Iran Syria Singapore China Mongolia Papua New Guinea Brunei Indonesia Malaysia Malaysia Tiawan Philippines Vietnam Cambodia Laos Thailand Myanmar Bangladesh Sri Lanka India Bhutan Nepal Pakistan Afghanistan Turkmenistan Tajikistan Kyrgyzstan Uzbekistan Japan North Korea South Korea Russia Kazakhstan Russia Montenegro Portugal Azerbaijan Armenia Georgia Ukraine Moldova Belarus Romania Bulgaria Macedonia Serbia Bosonia & Herzegovina Turkey Greece Albania Croatia Hungary Slovakia Slovenia Malta Spain Portugal Spain France Italy Italy Austria Switzerland Belgium France Ireland United Kingdom Norway Sweden Finland Estonia Latvia Lithuania Russia Poland Czech Republic Germany Denmark The Netherlands Iceland El Salvador Guatemala Panama Costa Rica Nicaragua Honduras Belize Mexico Trinidad & Tobago Puerto Rico Dominican Republic Haiti Jamaica The Bahamas Cuba Vanuatu Australia Solomon Islands Fiji New Caledonia New Zealand Eritrea Ethiopia Djibouti Somalia Kenya Uganda Tanzania Rwanda Burundi Madagascar Namibia Botswana South Africa Lesotho Swaziland Zimbabwe Mozambique Malawi Zambia Angola Democratic Repbulic of Congo Republic of Congo Gabon Equatorial Guinea Central African Republic Cameroon Nigeria Togo Ghana Burkina Fasso Cote d'Ivoire Liberia Sierra Leone Guinea Guinea Bissau The Gambia Senegal Mali Mauritania Niger Western Sahara Sudan Chad Egypt Libya Tunisia Morocco Algeria
Map Legend: 28%, 75 of 263 Territories

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Guay #1: Para!

After departing from Foz do Iguacu (on yet another overnight bus), it was off to Paraguay, where we spent a whopping 33 highly caffeinated hours (well, caffeinated if you were me, thanks to cold medicine, free coffee on the bus, and tereré, the local version of yerba mate tea, which of course I had to try). Whee!

Asuncion is the capital of Paraguay (two of the other major cities in the country are called Concepcion and Encarnacion, so you get an idea of what religious beliefs predominate). Paraguay is a small, landlocked country--it's definitely less wealthy than its neighbors, Brazil and Argentina, and I won't lie, Asuncion is not the most exciting city ever (it took about half a day to see pretty much all the touristic sites one could see). But it was cheap, and the people were very nice and spoke Spanish, which after three weeks of attempting to communicate in Portuguese, was practically like English to us.

Asuncion has a lot of flowering trees, and apparently we arrived just at the right time of year to catch them blooming in their pinkish-purple splendor.

Also fun were the taxis: yellow like the ones in New the 1970s.

Colonial buildings of interest included the cathedral, which was closed so we couldn't go inside...

The congress, which is mostly a modern glass building now but encompasses a bit of the original building, kind of cool...

...and the presidential palace (now housing government offices), modeled on Versailles and built largely by child laborers while 9 out of 10 Paraguayan men were off getting killed in the Triple Alliance War in the 1800s.

Never heard of the Triple Alliance War? Yeah, neither had we. Apparently, it happened when a dictator of Paraguay crazily declared war on Brazil, Argentina, and Bolivia all at once, and the three formed a triple alliance against Paraguay and kicked its butt. Inexplicably, this dictator appears to be nationally revered to this day, and he and his son (who built the elaborate palace) lie in the pantheon of heroes on the main square, guarded by uniformed soldiers.

We popped into the free national cultural museum, which might have been more interesting to you if you were Paraguayan, and where I distinguished myself by mistaking a uniformed schoolgirl for a museum employee and asking her where the bathroom was, much to her bewilderment as she did not know any better than I did.

And that was about it for touristic Asuncion. We had our afternoon free and decided to head to another part of town where the churrascarias and shopping malls were. True to form, even though the city bus cost about 30 cents, Andy made me walk the four miles to this other part of town.

We did stop into a really cool cemetary that was like a little town of mausoleums, but those pictures are moored on the other camera. We also dined at yet another churrascaria (all you can eat meat place), where the meat was fantastic and the price was a new low for us, about $11 US per person. Sweet. And we capped the night off by scoring tickets to the Orchestra Filharmonia de la Ciudad de Asuncion, where we heard a French-Brazilian composition and Berlioz's Symphonie Fantastique for a whopping $2 per ticket.

Despite the country's history of military coups and crazy dictators, the people are incredibly nice in Paraguay and appeared to be quite hardworking as well. They were out in force at 5AM when our bus came into the station, ready to sell us coffee, souvenirs, sunglasses, and anything else you could think of. The lady who sold me my 50-cent mate (see the forthcoming Foods of Paraguay post) sat with me and chatted, despite my poor Spanish, for 45 minutes while I drank cup after cup and Andy ran off to buy our next set of bus tickets. Our waiter at the churrascaria hurriedly replaced Andy's drink for free when he discovered it was alcoholic (why are the words for "milkshake" and "strong rum cocktail" so similar in Spanish?) and wrote out detailed bus information for us when we asked him for advice on how to get to the theater, and on and on.

But move on we must, so we shipped out the next day for Buenos Aires, where we are at the moment. Foods of Paraguay coming in my next post.


  1. Greetings from Seville, Spain!

    I thought it would be fun to post from Europe while you´re deep in South America. Looks like you´re still trying new and interesting foods. I also highly appreciated the FARTO store.

    We are collecting tips on southern Spain, lots of good stuff to see here before you jump over to Africa next year.


  2. Hey kids! Good to see you are still having fun and finding new foods to try. I have a question that maybe you already gave the answer to, but...what are you using for a guidebook?

  3. Good question, Katie. We have the Footprint South America book, which covers all of South America. We have a love-hate relationship with it. We would be lost without it, but we get really angry when it is wrong about something. We've talked to others with different guides, and they feel the same. Once in a location, we always try to get local maps and information as well, though that is not always possible.

  4. What is the worst food you have eaten?

  5. Hey this is jenna and I wanted to know do you like the food form here or from there better???

  6. Did you like the frozin water fall??..

  7. when you seen the whales did you hear some of
    sounds the make there so cool! ;-) good luck on the rest of your trip sincerly,
    shyana parsons