I’ve traveled enough to not be surprised anymore when I see a Chinatown in every major city that I’ve been to. I usually try to visit these “Chinatown” areas to see how Asian immigrants live in other countries. Usually, the community consists of Chinese, Japanese, or Korean immigrants. Therefore, it was VERY surprising to find a piece of Taiwan in Paraguay, literally in the center of South America!
From Foz do Iguaçú, with my Brazilian friend Wellen I crossed the Ponte da Amizade separating the Brazilian city from its Paraguayan counterpart, Ciudad del Este. CdE is an important trade city in Paraguay because it connects Paraguay to Brazil. So, many Taiwanese have set up shop in Ciudad del Este, not to mention that Paraguay is one of the few countries in the world that has diplomatic ties with Taiwan. The Taiwanese trade all things, but the biggest industry is electronics. In fact, when Wellen and I stepped off the bus, we were approached by a Paraguayan solicitor asking if we wanted to buy electronics, and Wellen gestured at me and said “Look at where she’s from, do you think she needs to buy electronics?” The guy laughed and walked away.
In Ciudad del Este, I was to meet with my friend Terry’s older sister, Jennifer. Terry is Taiwanese-Paraguayan, but lives in Sao Paulo. His sister has stayed in Paraguay. There is a 1 hour time difference in Paraguay, so we arrived one hour early (I didn’t realize till we got there!) We stopped by Jennifer’s workplace to find that she wasn’t there yet (also had a really hard time switching from Portuguese to Spanish). I realized that she worked in a center full of Taiwanese stores where I discovered an amazing Taiwanese supermarket!!!
We found Jennifer at the Taiwanese restaurant a bit later. It was my first time eating Taiwanese food in a long time. Needless to say I inhaled everything, especially the bubble tea!!
It was an amazing 3 hours in Paraguay, I definitely need to go back 🙂 !