Asuncion is the capital of land-locked Paraguay, and Paraguay is a country I know very little about. My pre-existing knowledge was limited to the colours of the national football team - red and white striped shirt and blue shorts.
After spending a couple of days in Asuncion, I’m not sure I know much more about Paraguay, or what sets it apart from other South American countries. I have managed to glean only a few things from my visit. It’s certainly poorer than Brazil - that much is obvious. Paraguayans love to drink terere, a type of cold tea made from the dried leaves of the yerba mate plant - packed full of caffeine and quite bitter. It is pretty common to see people wandering the streets with an urn in one hand and a cup in the other. Downtown Asuncion reminds me a bit of Asia, with sidewalks crammed with sellers hawking plastic jewellery, illegal cds, and genuine-fake ray bans. Perhaps my favourite things are the local buses, which are delightfully colourful and never really come to a complete stop to let people on or off. Most of them are decorated a bit like hand-painted hot-rods, with bright racing stripes and the occasional flame. But these hot-rods are all rattle and shake, grinding gearboxes and spewing diesel fumes, with a top speed of about 40 km per hour.