The next day was a free day which there was the option of going into Paraguay and I figured the day before, “why not?” It was another Latin American country to go see as well as do some more adventuring. New places, good things will happen! So I went on this special trip which was basically shopping and sight-seeing to see what Paraguay had to offer (in terms of just in this city). A lot of Brazilians apparently come to this place in order to buy a lot of tax/duty-free goods since Brazil charges up to 60-70% of the value of all imported goods through a tax. This place also doesn’t require passports to be shown so that was good for me as the going rate for the visa for Paraguay was over $100. But it was the shopping the reason why people go to this city in Paraguay to buy goods such as clothes, electronics, shoes, alcohol, and other high-value items. Of course, that’s when the heartaches begin when people all of a sudden get a little antsy at the border since the Brazilian government only allows a certain value amount of goods to be tax-free and they try to get “lucky” hoping that the government doesn’t check at all.
As soon as we got over the bridge, we were in Paraguay! But in reality after looking around the city while riding in the van, I heard from the others that this place looked like Tijuana, Mexico, and they were right. It did look like the Tijuana of the south where you can get anything for sale and the whole city looked like it was randomly designed like Tijuana! Hell, you could sell your liver and fetch a price for it! And what was the first thing that happened when I stepped out on the street? I got approached by all these vendors about buying a camera case, bags, or other weird stuff and then one guy whispered to me, “Viagra? Viagra?” Oh great. Do I look that old? And besides, even if I bought the stuff, there were no guarantees that it was Viagra – it was probably just sugar pills or something like that. Not interested. Go figure in the Tijuana of the South.
Our guide took us around for a little bit just to show us what else this city looked like and what to consider buying. One place of interest that he brought us to was at this one store called Casa China where all the women were dressed in red or black shirts and short skirts showing off their legs. I thought it was a great place to be in just looking at all the girls in the store. They’re all wearing short skirts! Haha. Hell, even the small restaurant which was more like a café also women walking in and out of it wearing short skirts. I was getting the munchies in my stomach so I decided to order something and came up with something different which was like an empanada in Argentina but this was called an “empada” which was Brazilian cuisine. Like its Argentinean cousin, it had a variety of types of empanadas that you could buy such as chicken, beef, and even palmito (type of plant) inside of them.
But back to the true highlight of it all was checking out the girls! You’d never see this back home! Whoo!
After walking all over the city while getting pestered by numerous vendors, there wasn’t much to see overall as it reminded me of any big city with tons of people just trying to get by in life as Paraguay is considered to be the poorest country in South America. This city was just a bunch of stores and cafes, either out in the open or in the floors of tall buildings acting like department stores with even some selling some very odd, interesting items.
I even guessed that I could have bought something odd like a gun out in this city and what do you know? Yup, there was a gun store out there! Wow! But I didn’t buy it as I would have had problems at every customs checkpoint I went through. I even encountered someone trying to sell brass knuckles and believe me. It crossed my mind for several seconds before that whole customs thing came up again and I had to say no. I just looked around, bought some food and drink, and took off when the van was ready to go. What made it odd was that everyone spoke Spanish despite its proximity to Brazil (only a bridge separated the two countries) and the numerous Brazilian customers. I guess it was the same anywhere in the world like a border separating two vastly different cultures and languages from each other like the United States-Mexico, China-Russia, France-Germany, etc. They might crossover a bit but people generally uphold the culture and language they grew up with.
The next day: off to Paraty, beach town, Brazil.