Paraguay was amazing, simply because I knew so little about it, so everything I saw was fascinating.
On a more serious note, right behind the boardwalk is a massive favela (slum) set up due to people getting displaced with the seasonal flooding of the Paraguay River. Unfortunately, it’s been flooded since 2014, meaning the “temporary” encampment is becoming more permanent.
Asunción has a vibrant market street, with pedestrians weaving through traffic to buy clothes, food, and just about everything else too. Pedestrian signals are nonexistent, so it feels like a real-life game of Frogger trying to cross the streets.
Almost all buses say that they are 5-star quality on their windshields, which to me seemed a lot like Donald Trump saying he has “a great relationship with the blacks”: you’re not sure what “great relationship” means or how he arrived at that conclusion, but you just go with it for lack of better metrics or options.
There are also supermarkets that are likely more expensive than these street stores. Here, bread is sold in massive buckets, which as you might imagine doesn’t make for the best experience, taste-wise. However, I should note that this is pretty much the norm in all of South America, from what I’ve seen.
There is a pretty active nightlife as far as I could tell: even on a Sunday, a DJ was spinning on the streets, next to an outdoor bar
and the restaurants were packed
Even the beer gets served in super classy standing coolers
and they have this great invention where you call the waiter or ask for the check by pushing a button at your table!
You’d probably think of Paraguay, being a South American country, as Spanish-speaking, but Guaraní, the indigenous language, is actually more widely understood! And it’s nothing like Spanish, as this sign shows.
It’s worth noting too that South American countries as a whole actually have five major languages, including Dutch (Suriname), English (Guyana), and French (French Guiana), in addition to hundreds (!!) of indigenous languages, especially in the Amazon River basin.
Continuing the trend I’ve seen in other poorer countries, Paraguay has some amazingly modern malls that are much nicer than most of their US counterparts. Its also worth noting that the country has very high levels of income inequality.
You can also find American* products–if you’re willing to pay.
Another South American tradition that Paraguayans proudly participate in is protesting, often with fireworks and road-closing parades.
Shower heads are also typical of the region: with a relatively warm climate, most houses don’t have central hot water heaters. Instead, three wires ominously stick into the shower head to heat the water as it flows, making you pray that the electrician knew what he or she was doing.
And finally, my hostel’s cat. Completely unrelated to the city, but I thought it was a pretty artsy photo.
In short, I think Asunción is an awesome city and worth exploring, especially when crossing from the Andes to the east coast of South America, or vice-versa. There are also many places in Paraguay I didn’t see, but all that means is there are more reasons to come back…
*Whenever possible, I try to avoid using the demonym “American” when referring to things of the United States, since people from South America tend to find it offensive, since they are also from America. However, in the English language, it is unfortunately the only demonym, so sometimes I have to use it.