Yesterday was the day I crossed over...
We started out before dawn and a few hours later we crossed the Parana river, something so vast that a poor little English girl could hardly grasp.
(This pic only shows about half as my camera couldn't take it all in).
The border seemed pretty standard apart from the huge pile of rocks in the middle of the road which ripped a hole in one of our tyres! Luckily replacing a tyre is half the price of doing it in Brazil and there were even armed guards there to help persuade us to pay the bill.
New tyre in tow we headed straight to Queen Anne shopping centre to start gathering the supplies on our extensive list.
The city of Guaira is rather strange and desolate place. It consists of one main street, which is filled with shops selling mostly blankets and socks. Children follow you down the road trying to sell you fake branded sports socks for $2 US. Around this street are smaller streets sporadically filled with small houses and intertwined with the malls.
We spend the next five hours hunting down a watch with large numbers for my mother-in-law, a usb hub and mic for my father-in-law, a backpack laptop carrier for my brother-in-law and various fishing items for my husband. This is all very boring and basic stuff I hear you all saying.
The problem is that in Brazil things are subject to a 60% import tax and what with the average monthly salary being $500RS (about £155 or $246US) and over 65% of the country's population earning this wage it's a bit tough to buy things. A trip to Paraguay is like a trip to a shopper's paradise. Border checks are not that thorough but the guards look for people with number plates from Sao Paulo who will buy much more than the $300US allowance per person and sell it on the famous rua vinte e cinco de marco (a kind of down market Oxford St where you can buy clothes and jewellery at discounted prices). We don't get stopped as we go through and drive off into the sunset nearly crashing into a stupid mule who is standing in the middle of the highway at night (he obviously forgot his high vis vest!).
We arrive safe and sound at home and I realise how lucky I am that I have the freedom to go home to London and buy pretty much anything I need.
So that's why they go to Paraguay.