I had my first taste of night life in Asuncion last night. It was my coworker’s birthday and he was going out with some of his friends to celebrate and very graciously invited me to join them. I am still a little bit lost in this city, since I have thankfully not had to navigate the streets on my own so far, so I cannot tell you exactly where we were, however I know it was close to downtown (aka, where I live, and again aka not actually “down”town but rather north in the city,) and close to the former train station. We went to a pizzeria/bar that his friend owns, called Lo de Mamu, for a few cervezas and some pizza. The funny thing about the “local” beer here in Paraguay, it is actually Brazilian Brahma.
The night was great overall, as I was able to meet a number of local Paraguayans and get a better taste for life here. It is not all danger and caution as I’ve been told, (though those things are still obviously important,) but it seems people do just hang out as in any other city in the world, relaxing with a cold beer and good friends.
I have also been able to pick up on some small nuances of the history of Paraguay from conversations with colleagues, my host family, and other people I meet. As I mentioned above, the former train station in the city no longer functions – nor do any other trains in the country. At some point the state decided to buy the train companies and effectively mismanaged and did not have enough funds to maintain them, so they lost their value. The primary methods of transportation in Paraguay for long distance trips are by bus or plane, or of course by car if you have one, (which it seems a lot of people do.) I’m just holding out until I break down and buy a motorcycle, which apparently are manufactured in Paraguay! Can’t you envision me driving down broken streets, dodging through drivers who don’t stop on corners or look around them before making turns, coughing up exhaust fumes on my little ’99 wheels?