We spent only two days in Ciudad del Este. The first day we slept through most of it, but the second day was very eventful and quite long.

As we wrote in the previous post about hitchhiking from Brazil to Paraguay, we crossed the border at night and sat in some 24/7 fast-food joint drinking coffee until dawn. In the morning, we reached the home of our Couchsurfing host, Emanuel. We found the house with the help of neighbors because we had no internet or a local SIM card. We began calling for Emanuel over the fence, and his sister came out to greet us as he wasn’t home.

Emanuel’s family is very hospitable and talkative. We met his mother, and soon he arrived, welcomed us, and rushed off to buy breakfast. While he was gone, we took showers and changed, instantly feeling better. However, we were eager to get a good night’s sleep and rest. So, after breakfast, we took a short nap and woke up in the evening.

In the evening, we also got to know his father, and they set the table and introduced us to Paraguayan culture over dinner. We shared more about our round-the-world journey. But communicating wasn’t easy. Paraguay became our first Spanish-speaking country in South America, and the locals spoke in a way that was quite hard to understand. We thought that Brazilians spoke Spanish better than Paraguayans.

In Paraguay, aside from Spanish, there’s a second official language, Guaraní, which almost everyone knows. In fact, more people in Paraguay speak Guaraní than those who speak Spanish. Around 87% of the population speaks Guaraní, compared to 70% who speak Spanish. People often mix these languages during conversations. Furthermore, they speak very fast, making it quite challenging to comprehend. Some people in Ciudad del Este also know Portuguese and speak a mix of these three languages. We constantly had to ask for clarifications and to speak more slowly.

During dinner, we tried a famous traditional Paraguayan dish called “Sopa Paraguaya” or Paraguayan soup for the first time. It’s a very unusual dish because it’s not a liquid soup; it’s more like a savory cake. It was delicious, but we’d call it a pie rather than a soup.

Itaipu Hydroelectric Power Plant

The next day, two more travelers joined us for breakfast. They were a couple from Germany, Levi and Lea, who were also traveling throughout South America. They didn’t stay at Emanuel’s house but joined us because Emanuel wanted to show us one of the largest dams in the world – Itaipu. He organized a Couchsurfing event for this purpose.

Our trip started in an amusing way. We drove to Itaipu in Emanuel’s car. However, it seemed like the car was struggling to carry all five of us. In the end, we had to park it in the middle of the city and take a bus.

Itaipu is the world’s second most powerful hydroelectric power plant after the Three Gorges Dam in China. It’s located on the Paraná River, on the border between Brazil and Paraguay, and it supplies electricity to both of these countries. The name “Itaipu” is derived from Itaipu Island, which served as the foundation for constructing this dam.

Итайпу, Сиудад дель Эсте, Парагвай

Here they offer guided tours, both on the Brazilian and Paraguayan sides. However, unlike the Brazilian side, the tour in Paraguay is free. Upon entering, you need to register and must have your passport with you. This is because, first, it’s a border area, and second, during the tour, the bus crosses the border and makes a short loop on the Brazilian side of the hydroelectric power plant. Before the bus trip, visitors are offered the chance to watch a documentary about the dam in an actual movie theater inside the power plant. It’s very interesting to gather some information before seeing the dam, as otherwise, it might just appear as a regular dam.

The scale of the structure is truly impressive. It would be fascinating to visit during full discharge when they release water. In videos and photos, it looks like another Iguazu Falls – a display of sheer power!

After the tour, we said our goodbyes to the group, returned to Emanuel’s home, and spent the rest of the day conversing with his family and helping with some gardening tasks. On the following day, Emanuel drove us to the bus station, and we boarded a bus to Asunción. During our journey to the capital, our bus got stuck, but we’ll save that story for our next update.

P.S.: We’re not sure where all our photos from Ciudad del Este and Itaipu went. We only found a couple of pictures. There should be many more. If we find them, we’ll be sure to add them!

From Paraguay with love, Vasya and Nastya

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