Paraguay - A Surprising Reason to Visit


When I worked for Peace Corps, part of my job was to conduct the first orientation sessions for new volunteers before they left for their country of service.    Before each session, I received a briefing on the political and economic issues in each country.

I did more than 40 of these trainings and I did more for Paraguay than for any other country.   The local Paraguayan Consul usually attended the training and I often told him "One day, I'm going to visit your country."   I said it so many times, I don't think he believed me.  

It's not a place known for its tourism.   A friend of mine, who worked in Paraguay for a short period of time once said "Paraguay is not a place you want to visit, it is a place you want to live."   It's a land-locked country without any major tourist attractions.   But as he explained to me, the people are what makes the country special.

Before I arrived in Asunción in July, 2019, I felt like I already knew a lot about the country.   We took an overnight bus from Brazil and arrived early in the morning.   We didn't expect our hotel room to be ready and it wasn't.   But the clerk said he would try to get the room ready and, motioning toward the dining room, told us to go have breakfast while they prepared the room.   It was the first of many small gestures we encountered during our 7 day stay.  We quickly learned that people in Paraguay don't take advantage of each other.   It's not simple friendliness or even hospitality.  It's respect for each other.

Perhaps that comes from being a small country that has less than 7 million residents.  Or perhaps it is because tourists haven't "ruined" it for everyone else.   The people are honest and courteous to each other and to strangers.

That was very evident when we arrived at the Paraguay Expo, the country's version of a state fair.     

Farmers walking their cattle to the showgrounds at Paraguay Expo 2019 in Asunción

Like most things in Paraguay, this was very much a local event.   Farmers were showing off their prize livestock and musicians were preforming traditional songs.    And everywhere we went, people were sipping their mate, a traditional tea made with hot water and yerba leaves. 

The Expo is definitely a family affair.   And while we were waiting to conduct an interview, the motorcade of the President of Paraguay pulled up right next to me.   We weren't in a secured area. There were no metal detectors and we didn't have any kind of credentials.  He stayed in his car, but I was amazed we could be this close to a head-of-state without any kind of security clearance.  (He later spoke to the crowd at the Expo.)

We later visited the CONMEBOL soccer museum.  It was closed when we arrived, but the person at the door agreed to let us come in anyway for a quick look around.  There is no Uber in Paraguay, but without exception, the taxicab drivers couldn't have been more helpful and professional.    

I have many more examples of being treated well. My friend was right.  The people in Paraguay are the reason to visit.   


We shot an episode of "Peruanos en el Mundo" during our visit.  I've linked it below.   

Dates of Travel

  • July, 2019

Places Visited

  • Asunción




This post is part of my series "One Photo - One Country."  I'm am selecting one photo and writing one story from every country I have visited.   Your comments and questions are welcome.  

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