The View from the Bus


This week we trekked across Paraguay from Asuncion, on the country’s southwestern edge, to Ciudad del Este, on the southeastern border. The route, which takes about six hours by bus – we broke the journey up with two overnight stops along the way – is a beautiful slice of Paraguay’s countryside.

But first we had to get out of the capital city. Asuncion is remarkably expansive, and it took us over an hour to find our way out of the metropolitan area. Fortunately, bus rides are never boring: apart from the chaos of traffic outside the vehicle, inside the bus is a constant show as well, as vendors hop on and off selling everything from soda pop to pirated dvds. Sky Mall might have more variety, but in-flight shopping can’t beat the fun of watching a cornbread vendor balance her giant basket, make change, and stay upright as the bus lurches into stop after stop.

Selling chipa on the bus

A vendor sells a cheesey cornbread known as "chipa" on our bus

We finally emerged from the tangle of suburbs and ascended into the cordillera. Summitting a tall hill, we could see cattle-studded pastures and steep forested ridges. Dozens of red tiled roofs and the vividly red soil contrasted with the deep green of the vegetation. It hadn’t rained in a while, so red dust blew into the bus in hot gusts and settled over our sweaty skin.

Caacupe countryside

The countryside around Caacupe, in southwestern Paraguay

I think my favorite part of the ride was seeing the bursts of color and creativity that flew past our windows. Tiny roadside shrines sheltering saints; a magnificent doghouse complete with its own red tiled roof; shady patios filled with hammocks and grapefruit trees. Even a brilliant blue house with bold white geometrical grates securing its windows from thieves and anyone who would dare settle for anything as dull as an earth tone.

As the kilometers rolled by, we started to argue gently about who got the window seat. Neither of us, it turned out, wanted to miss the view.

2 Responses to “The View from the Bus”

  1. 1 Brian

    mmm….I want chipa. I love bus food!

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