Today it’s the turn of Harry Whitewolf, take a look at this exclusive from Route Number 11: Argentina, Angels & Alcohol.
CIUDAD DEL ESTE
Ciudad del Este ain’t like anywhere else in the world.
There’s one reason for visiting and one reason only: shopping.
Mostly anything can be bought in the city of the east, but its main trade is cheap electronics. iPhones, iPods, laptops, Sat Navs, Notebooks, Androids, hard drives, Hi-Fis. Wi-Fis, PCs, TVs, CDs, DVDs,
USBs, Blackberries, Apples, Oranges, Dongles, Tom
Toms, pompoms, rom-coms and bonbons… You name
it. It’ll be there.
No one visits for more than a day. In fact, a whole day is way past most people’s stamina.
Capitalist and black market bartering by street sellers, stall holders, shopping mall salesmen and overly sexily dressed señoritas.
Jack and the tourist ride the bus across the bridge from
Brazil to Paraguay, without any border checks whatsoever. Best to walk back from the bus stop to border control and ask if they need their passports stamped.
“Hoy solo?” the man asks. Si, they’re only visiting for the day. No need for stamps. It’s fine to just wander in to Paraguay.
It’s raining so hard that it feels like Iguazú Falls may have spilt over into the heavens.
Ciudad del Este is dark skied, depressing and crammed with bodies of business. The backside of Capitalism.
And the two travellers are walking through its shit, hands tightly holding on to wallets, in a Blade Runner landscape on the brink of post apocalyptic living.
“Amigo, amigo…” “Señor, señor…” Desperate Paraguayan people push into them, peddling their wares.
Opium, cocaine and marijuana are offered within the first ten minutes. They join the conveyor belt of buyers and barterers, like they’re in the mad house of a movie director’s mind.
Nothing to see except for department stores, shacks and stalls. Whore houses on the horizon. Motorcycle taxis
touting for fares. Sexy store assistants flirting for foreign currency, by bending over in red uniformed skirts, exposing long legs to tempt any prospective male shoppers.
No matter what expectations you may have of Ciudad del Este, having heard the same story from any traveller that’s braved the city, you’re bound to still be bowled over. The city most certainly lives up to the hype.
A few hours is plenty enough time. There’s nowhere to go and nothing to do other than shop. Lunch is had in a mall. Coffee is had in a market style area of shacks and stalls, covered by a loose tarpaulin; the rain hitting it hard.
Get the hard drive Jack’s come for, and get the hell back to Foz. Not that there’s anything to do there either.
It was worth coming for the sheer mad frenzied spectacle of Ciudad del Este. It was also worth coming for those oh so hot and sexy Paraguayan women who
had eyed the tourist. Maybe he should think about
visiting Paraguay proper after all. But nobody goes to
Paraguay. It’s the one place still overlooked by the tourist trail. A good reason to go then.
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