I am back in Buenos Aires, here to remain for a few days before heading South, and thus finally have access to Internet, which I lacked most of the time in Paraguay. Rumors as to what exactly befell me in that particular country have been running a bit wild, and I'm here to set things straight. I thought about dividing my Paraguay adventure into three parts--the good, the bad, and the ugly, if you please--but have decided that since the good would take up a mere three paragraphs (not because there was necessarily less of it, but because good stories are always short), and since the bad was all so bad so as to be ugly anyway, I would stick to a chronological (more or less) account, divided neatly into as many parts as it takes for me to get the story out.
Esther--Kati's spouse, you'll remember--is from Paraguay, and thus has several friends there. The plan was to fly to Puerto Iguazu, in the Northeast corner of Argentina, on Monday, and cross the border there into Ciudad del Este to stay with some of her friends. From there I would see the incredible Iguazu falls, the largest in the world, and then head to Asuncion for a few days before heading back on Friday. That was the plan.
I arrived in Ciudad del Este, and spent a wonderful night with Esther's friends, who convinced me to go to Asuncion the following day, and return to Ciudad del Este to spend a few days with them when they didn't have to work. Simple decision. The next day, we headed into the city to buy a camera for Kati and Esther before I left for Asuncion. Ciudad del Este, of Miami Vice: The Terrible Movie fame, is THE place to buy electronics. A city full of drugs, smuggling, terrorist cells, and blood-thirsty capitalism, it was certainly one of the most interesting places I've ever seen. Found a camera, a Nikon digital for $160, bought it, and headed to Asuncion.
I was staying with a girl named Vivian, from the Hospitality Club, a single mother with a five-year-old son. She picked me up from the bus station with Dan, a Slovenian and another HC guest, and that night we went to an opening party at the National Theater, to mingle with Asuncion's elite, drinking wine and hoarding appetizers. Afterwards, we drove out somewhere in the country to a friend's house to sit on their porch and drink beer, though at this point, like her little boy (who came with us), I was fairly exhausted and ready to go to bed.
The next day, we went to Luque, a nearby city, to look for jewelry. Luque is home to the headquarters of South American futbol, a huge, imposing building surrounded by the flags of various South American countries, a few soccer fields (are they called fields?) and a fountain in which water spouts from an enormous soccer ball.
Luque itself is a bizarre little town. Their team colors are blue and yellow, and everything in the town--and I mean everything--is painted blue and yellow. The supermarket is blue and yellow. The public trashcans are blue and yellow. The buses are blue and yellow. Even, yes, the houses are painted--you guessed it--blue and yellow. This, to me, is a fanaticism that borders on insanity. I took some pictures, which I would post here if I had them. (Attention: that is called "foreshadowing")
Next we headed into the centerof Asuncion to see the sights, and here's where the fun really begins. Unfortunately I've run out of time, so you'll have to pick it up tomorrow. Oh yes! To be continued!