Guest Post: Brazil And Beyond

Most of you have probably figured out that I am back in Brazil. So though it is impossible to guest post all the time, I am going to try and put my two cents in now and then!

Earlier this week we were with some good friends in Foz do Iguacu which is on the border of both Argentina and Paraguay. And, yes, we made it to both!!!!

I thought it may be interesting to some of you so see what shopping in Paraguay might be like.
We went with our host family and met another family there that we know. It is crowded, crazy, nerve-wracking, loud, dirty, annoying, tiring, and cheap. And that last reason is why it is so popular! (and for some odd reason it’s fun!)

We loaded on the bus (two buses, actually, as we had to switch to go across the border and headed on in. We went on a Monday and, thankfully, that is a calm, slower day there. We had gone a different day on one other trip and it was beyond crazy…..

We met up with our other friends and went looking for a particular Chinese Restaurant. It was maxed out. Onto some stores.

The streets are narrow and people drive crazy. No kidding, one of the people we were with came very close to being taken down by a car because the road was too narrow at one point for her and the car AND the car didn’t want to wait…. They don’t give pedestrians favor.

The streets are also lined with booth after booth of people selling their wares. Kind of like a huge flea market. Sadly, this is a daily thing for most of these people and they are the poor. Children literally spend a good portion of their days either under the table out of the way of people and/or the sun or they are walking the streets themselves selling things. It is heart-breaking. I looked at the whole situation often and wondered how people could live this way day in and day out. They know nothing else. How blessed I am.

We finally headed back to the restaurant and we were able to get a table that seated all of us (11). The food was wonderful. Not the american type of chinese! And our meal (with drinks) for all of us came to approximately $50!!!

Back to shopping. Warren needed a new backpack because his had torn already and since we carry the computer in it (you wouldn’t dare use a computer case in Brazil or you risk it being stolen) we didn’t want to risk it completely tearing open. If you know how to shop in Paraguay you can find great deals as they have no or little import taxes put on their goods. They have great stuff and they have cheaply made stuff. You have to have your eyes open. And they have stores for EVERYTHING!

After shopping we decided we all needed ice cream. Off to McDonald’s. This is even much cheaper here than in Brazil. I was told (warned) that I was not to take a picture of anything with prices on it! I’m not sure of the reason for that but I complied!

We picked up the last few things that were needed by our group and headed for our transportation home. Along the way you will see many booths full of packing supplies. You can now only take $300 worth of stuff into Brazil without paying duty so they have many “carriers” that run things illegally into Brazil. Things are taken out of the original packages and re-packaged together. The “carriers” they take them under the bridges or use other means to get them into Brazil so that duty doesn’t have to be paid on them. Styrofoam fills the streets at the end of the day as things are re-packed.

This time we walked over the bridge to the other side of the border and caught a taxi with the couple we had met in Paraguay. It was a long, hot walk.

All in all it was a great day. Maybe you can get some real bargains there but I’ll take TJMaxx and Ross any day!