Dodgy deals

Saturday, October 22nd 2005

In the afternoon I got a bus across the eastern half of the country to Ciudad del Este. The five hour journey went quickly, with the flat but vividly green scenery of Paraguay racing by. After a couple of hours we stopped briefly in Coronel Oviedo where I bought some fruit to eat on the way, and I tried to ignore the awful, awful film that was playing on the bus's TVs. Most South American buses covering any substantial distance have a TV, and almost always the films they put on are horrible.

In Ciudad del Este my main aim was to buy a camera, to replace one that had broken two days before I left London. The city was a bit like Tottenham Court Road in London, scaled up massively and plonked down in the tropics. It hummed with Brazilians and Argentinians scouring the thousands of electronics shops for bargains, no-one too concerned about why it was all so amazingly cheap, here in what my guidebook described as the most corrupt city in South America.

In temperatures nearing 40°C, I spent a Sunday with the crowds, poring over the shops in search of a bargain. Haggling in Spanish was not terribly easy and I probably paid over the odds for the camera I got, but it was considerably cheaper than it would have been in London so I thought that was fair enough. I was also hoping to buy a Paraguay football top while I was here as I was planning to support the team in the world cup. Had I known then that they would be in the same group as England for the first round I'd have searched harder than I did but as it was, I couldn't find one. I headed out of Ciudad del Este, over the Río Paraná and into Brazil.

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