Before I visited Paraguay, the only thing I knew about the place thanks to the wonderful pervy cameramen of the 2010 World Cup – was that they had a very enthusiastic female football fan with epic boobies. Not only that, but not many people who visited South America seemed to be adding Paraguay to their itinerary.
Why give the surrounding nations all the love and leave out poor old Paraguay? I figured I’d be part of some exclusive club if I visited, so off we went over from the Brazilian border and started out in the capital, Asuncion.
Paraguay is very cheap – Thailand cheap! And that’s not a bracket I put countries in very often as it wouldn’t be honest to do so. I remember reading when I was there that Asuncion is the cheapest capital city in the world. Cha-ching!
I’m sometimes wary of using the word ‘cheap,’ because I’d prefer to look at the value of the money that I am paying as opposed to just getting excited for it being cheap. Is it a little rough around the edges? It is (and I loved it) but it’s not as if the place is totally worn down and lacking any comfort level that you downgrade and get used to if you travel quite a bit.
Paraguay makes the best of what it’s got and it’s certainly good value for money.
What To Do…
You can win geeky travel points by visiting the least visited UNESCO site in the world, erected by Jesuits missionaries in the 16th century. You can visit the gorgeous waterfront area of Encarnación (I hear it’s bouncing with brilliant beach parties during summer peak season), Marvel at the Salto Monday waterfalls – drink mate in the streets and chat with the cordial locals – there’s enough to do, trust me. Side note; Hotel Del Lago in San Bernardino is a gorgeous boutique hotel with fantastic historical meaning.
Make Tea, Not War?
So why on earth don’t more people visit Paraguay? Many of the older generation blame the British and their tea. In 1864 Paraguay was a blossoming regional power with a booming economy based largely on agriculture…mainly tea.
Paraguayan farmers produced high-grade tea at less cost than tea from Great Britain and decided to try to expand the market for it from the Americas to Europe. When Paraguay offered their cut-rate tea leaves to Germany and France, Britain got pissed off and a war began.
I’m not sure if the tea war is the reason (and no I’m not saying that because I’m British and a tea addict myself) that more backpackers don’t flock over to Paraguay – I think the problem with Paraguay lies in its inherent lack of tourism.
Paraguay is shy and you can’t be shy in the tourism industry. Pretty much every other country who boasts a decent amount of tourist traffic knows that. Take Philippines for example – it doesn’t have the infrastructure that neighbouring Thailand has, but it’s bold in its advertising; “It’s more fun in the Philippines!” That’s the slogan. It makes itself impossible to ignore. It doesn’t care about the semantics – it just get their name out there; bright and bold.
Paraguay is the introverted fit girl who nobody noticed at school, because they were too busy being seduced by the popular loud girls who knew all the right things say. She’s worth your time and interest but way too humble for her own good, and she needs love too.