Ciudad del Este, Paraguay
25° 30' S 54° 36' W
Sep 14, 2004 04:54
Distance 7km

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Text written in: English

Extreme Backpacking – 3 countries in 6 hours!

After 4 hours sleep we woke up with champagne headaches and had to pack. Packing constantly is always a chore but especially this time. We were carrying a ridiculous amount of stuff. People often ask what weight you're carring – and the less your bag weighs the 'better' a traveller you are. I walked out of Argentina carrying quite a lot of boutique shopping bags carrying lovely leather goods and a large collection of footwear!

We had made a pact with Claire and Andy that we would not waste the next morning. We all wanted to 'pop to Paraguay' to experience Cuidad del Este and our flight for Rio left Brazil at 3.00.

Because we had to be quick we hired a taxi and asked him look after us. Claire and Andy were just day visitors but Phil and I were jumping in and out of the cab, running around madly getting exit and entry stamps and even managing to get our tax fee shopping refund.

Cuidad de Este is reputed to be extremely dangerous. It's the place for blackmarket trading of high value electrical goods, great quality couterfeits and a Latin American tax free shopping zone.

The taxi driver told us he would never be able to enter Paraguay through the traffic in the cab and get out again so we should dump the car and cross the bridge to Paraguay by mototaxi. This means jumping on the back of a motorbike and dodging cars….it looked extremely dangerous so we decided we'd walk it. We paid a guy to mind the car and walked away from our bags.

Walking into Paraguay was like dipping oursleves back into a Bolivian marketplace – back to the latin America without pavements and full of ladies delivering chickens. We walked the streets, looked at the stores and didn't buy a thing – the experience was quite overwelming and we didn't even know which language to speak or what currency they were asking us for.

For 4 months we have been speaking Spanish and suddenly we couldn't speak or be understood. At the airport in Brazil I heard my first Portugese and felt very confused.

On the flight out there was an amazing view of the vast Rio Iguacu dropping into the falls. We were feeling sad about leaving Argentina behind us. Then we saw Rio from the sky and forgot all about it.