Paraguay, a country that’s famous for…………

9 Sep

Paraguay, a country that’s famous for being famous for nothing! The lonely planet says Paraguay is famous for Corruption, Contraband and the Chaco. From what the lonely planet says I think it is better to be famous for nothing. The people joke that Paraguay is the second most corrupt country as they were bribed out of first place. Paraguay isn’t even very good at being poor, once again it’s in second place behind Bolivia as South America’s poorest country. And you know you’re clutching at straws when you say you’re famous for the Chaco. The Chaco is a Barron desolate region that takes up half the country and is home to the Mennonites, who settled there as who else would be willing to work the harsh land; apparently the ground water is so salty you can’t even drink it!

In the South American travel guidebooks it’s easy to find Paraguay, simply turn the book on its side and go to the section with the least amount of pages. OK, so what does Paraguay have to offer, great weather, well if you’re a Saharan desert camel it’s great, the temperature fluctuates between hot and bloody hot. The mountains, if you’re scared of heights Paraguay is a great destination with the highest mountain reaching 840 metres. The beaches, considering Paraguay is an island surrounded by countries you’re buggered for that, but there is San Bernardino lake that the Asuncion city goers flock to in the weekends to party, when I ask about the water sports available I’m told that you don’t swim in the lake because it’s too polluted! (although I have not been there yet so I shouldn’t judge).

Ok, so I’m taking the piss out (giving them shit, hassling, picking on etc) of Paraguay. Imagine if I was saying all this about America, Canada, Australia or that sheep shagging country east of Australia (it’s ok, I’m from New Zealand). But what I love about it is, that if a Paraguayan reads this they would just laugh and say “Asi es” (that’s the way it is). A classic example of Paraguayans having a laugh at their own expense was yesterday at a family dinner, there was an American guy who was revisiting as so many do, and he asked “so how’s tourism these days in Paraguay?”, and he was answered “great, we just got two more, Hap and Mandy”.

But you don’t come to Paraguay for the beaches, the mountains, the tourist attractions; you go to neighbouring countries Argentina, Brazil, Peru (I realise it doesn’t neighbour, but its home to Machu Pichu so I added it in) and Bolivia. You come to Paraguay for some of the friendliest people in South America. The few backpackers I have met who have been to Paraguay will vouch for this. The Paraguayans will even tell you that it’s a country all about the people………………….and football.

To me Paraguay is a backpacker’s paradise, that’s if you wanting to get off the beaten track and have unique experiences. As far as tourist infrastructure goes you’re buggered, there are no hostels, the street vendors and waiters don’t speak English, you have to pay local prices (bugger) and good luck trying to sort out the public bus system in the couple of days you have dedicated to Asuncion.

But to me, the above is all the more reason to come. Compared to Thailand where I was before here, it is a breath of fresh air. Thailand is a “backpacking for dummies destination. You walk into a travel agent, say you want to go here, and they give you a ticket and a sticker that you stick on yourself and there is someone waiting for you who shows you to your connecting bus along with a hundred touts telling you they have the best hotel etc. All the street vendors in Thailand have been to the same English school, “Mr, special price for you”, “my friend where you from?” etc, in Thailand you’re a walking dollar sign.

On the streets in Paraguay there is only Spanish and Guarani (Paraguay is bilingual), there’s only one price, and even though you will get stared at because you look different –I think that’s just me- people leave you alone and only approach out of genuine curiosity or to help you. Paraguay as a travel destination is about the experiences, those little victories of arriving at your destination and all the great people you meet on your journey.

I have just got back from one of those journeys. I took a 30 hour cargo boat trip up the Rio Paraguay from Asuncion to Concepcion, stopping along the way to drop off supplies and people to the isolated farms along the river. Then I camped the night in Concepcion at the local fair ground with the Carnies. In the following 5 posts I’m going to tell you about my journey, but I’m going to tell it to you through the people I met, “The 5 people you meet on a Paraguayan cargo boat“.

Oh yeah Paraguay, a country that’s famous for the friendliest people in South America! Amen.

14 Responses to “Paraguay, a country that’s famous for…………”

  1. kiwiandrea September 11, 2009 at 4:43 am #

    Hey, I think Paraguay has more tourist destinations than what you’ve written! How about the Trinidad ruins, UNESCO world heritage site? And also the biggest hydroelectic dam in the world (Itaipu Dam)??? They are great sites, I’ve been to them both!

    • Hap September 11, 2009 at 5:40 am #

      Hey Andrea,
      for sure you’re right, I was taking the piss, I was just trying to portray that compared to the other South American destinations Paraguay doesn’t really have a “Machu Pichu”, or the Lake districts of Argentina, or the famous beaches of Brazil destinations. The sights that people especially make a trip to that country to go to. Itaipu dam, I’m sure its great, its now the 2nd biggest, apparently China got braggin rights now. But yeah for sure I haven’t been there so I shouldn’t be so closed mined, but will get there and will spread some love on it, hopefully getting down to the ruins next week, I have heard they’re great, looking forward to it.
      Apologises Paraguay, you know I got nothing but love for you.
      Nuthin but love Hap

  2. kiwiandrea September 11, 2009 at 8:34 pm #

    Wow, China eh? I guess I shouldn’t be so surprised…
    Yep, I hear what you’re saying and yeah, you’re right.
    But being famous for being the friendliest people in South America is definitely the best eh.
    Keep having fun over there, I’ve enjoyed reading your posts (found your blog after looking at some of the kiwi Best Job in the World videos) and good luck for hooking up a job in Antarctica!

    • Hap September 11, 2009 at 9:00 pm #

      Cheers Andrea,
      Good to know somebody out there is keeping me honest 🙂
      Yeah, no surprise about China aye. Glad your enjoying the blogs, always good to hear things like that.
      Antarctica, as we speak I’m in the middle of applying for the volunteer job down at Scott Base, apparently it was on the morning show back home, basically they are asking for two volunteers to paint the outside of Scott Base in December and January, so fingers crossed, looks perfect.
      I best get back to filling in this form, I hope all is going well back in NZ, it really is a beautiful part of the world aye.
      NBL Hap

  3. Jo September 15, 2009 at 6:08 pm #

    good luck with the form filling in….Go you Good Thing (can we call someone to give you references!)…and will this actually change The Life of Hap (and Mandy) if you complete the mission?

    • Hap September 20, 2009 at 12:09 am #

      Sup jo,
      just cross your fingers, that should be enough. As far as changing life, probably just mean that I won’t stay awake at night trying to think of ways I can get to Antarctica, haha.
      NBL Hap

  4. alejandra March 22, 2010 at 9:00 am #

    hap:
    realmente no tienes nada que hacer? porque te pasa escribiendo estupideces, ni siquiera estuviste aqui, y como vas a decir esas cosas..por lo visto que tienes algo en contra de los paraguayos..realmente no conoces nada de Paraguay solo pusiste las partes malas y te olvidaste o te hiciste de la olvidada de las partes buenas..porque aunque no creas tenemos muchas cosas buenas..y no es asi como dices por el calor que tenemos usted no sabe como nosotros disfrutamos de nuestro calor cosa que ustedes NUNCA, JAMAS en la vida podrian hacerlo

    • Hap March 23, 2010 at 5:38 am #

      Hi Alejandra,
      I’m sorry you feel that way about the blog post, but thats how I felt. And i still stand by it, yes paraguay is beautiful in its own way and i realise i didn’t see all of your diverse country, but when you compare the natural beauty of neighbouring brazil, Argentina etc I believe it speaks for itself. BUT what would you rather be famous for, a beautiful landscape or beautiful people, and as I say in my post Paraguay has the most amazingly friendly, hospitable, generous people I have met in my travels. And the people is why I LOVE PARAGUAY. So I’m sorry I may have offended you, but please focus on the positive side of the post, PARAGUAY IS A COUNTRY THAT IS FAMOUS FOR HAVING THE MOST FRIENDLIEST PEOPLE IN SOUTH AMERICA!

    • Amanda May 20, 2010 at 8:53 pm #

      Alejandra,
      Parece que no leiste bien lo que escribio Hap sobre Paraguay. Dijo muchas cosas positivas y solo dijo la verdad, que desde la perspectiva de un viajero, el Paraguay no es famoso para nada, y que parte del encanto es ESO que no hay muchos viajeros y que la experiencia es conocer a la gente, los paraguayos amables, creativos, talentosos, inteligentes. No seas tan serio, lighten up! Deberias poder reirte de algunas cosas de tu propio pais. Todos tenemos esas cosas! Lee un poco mas y entenderas mejor el amor que Hap tiene para este hermoso pais.

      • Hap May 21, 2010 at 7:48 pm #

        Glad you could express properly in Spanish how I felt. The last thing I want people to think is that I dislike Paraguay, this could not be furtherest from the truth. I LOVE PARAGUAY, more importantly I love the people that make Paraguay the beautiful country that it is.

  5. Ollieie June 17, 2010 at 2:11 pm #

    hi i love this website it tells ya alot of info.

  6. Alex King April 5, 2011 at 9:39 pm #

    Interesting post and website. I am a classical guitarist and wanted to read more about, in my opinion, one of the world’s greatest treasures – Agustin Barrios Mangore (1885-1944), a Paraguayan guitarist and composer. In my search, I happened to run across this post. I understand the point you are trying to make in your post from a travel point of view. But the majesty and beauty of the music this man created reveals what I imagine to be the essence of this country. And this country is permeated and echoed through the concert halls all over the world, in songs such as “La Catedral”, “Julia Florida”, “Danza Paraguaya”, “El Sueno de la Munequita”, and “Una limosnita por amor de Dios”. I hope you get a chance to listen to these one day. These have helped make this country and its people famous.

    • Hap April 6, 2011 at 5:32 am #

      Hi Alex,

      Unfortunately I’m not musical, so could only write the post from my point of view of living and working in Paraguay.

      But you are absolutely correct, Agustin Barrios has put Paraguay on the music map, and Paraguayans to this day are still very proud of him, and talk about him. He is even on the national currency and has streets named after him. Whilst I was there (after 60 years after his death) I heard a lot about him.

      I hope you get the chance to get to Paraguay, I love the place.

      Hap

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. The 5 people you meet on a Paraguayan cargo boat – The friendly horseman « Hap Working The World - September 23, 2009

    […] Introduction (a country famous for……), 1.The welcoming captain, 2. The inquisitive crew, 3.The relaxed passengers, 4.The generous carnies, 5. The friendly horsemen […]

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