Fernando de la Mora Travel

Female Travelers

When unaccompanied by male travel companions, foreign women, especially blondes, will receive a lot of attention from Paraguayan men. While cat calls are common (whistling or a ch ch ch sound

to grab attention), for the most part, the attention is innocent. When traveling alone on long distance buses it is best to sit in an aisle seat near the front of the bus, and sit next to another female when possible. When dealing with unknown males in settings such as a bar, restaurant, or bus, friendly chitchat, smoking, drinking, and extended eye contact may be misinterpreted as a sign of flirtation. It is best to firmly rebuff advances from the start and act cold rather than friendly. Though it is common to greet people with a double kiss on each cheek, it is perfectly acceptable for women to shake hands with men instead – it is the woman’s choice whether to kiss or shake hands (though more insistent men may play dumb and used your extended hand to pull you in for a kiss). Some female travelers may wish to pretend a willing male companion is their husband. In Spanish my husband is mi esposo and in Guarani it is che mena.

Tight clothing is quite common for women in Paraguay (you will see a lot of spandex, both in the city and countryside). However, clothing that reveals skin (i.e.: spaghetti straps, low cut tank tops, and short shorts) is much less common and in many cases is an invitation for unwanted attention. Revealing clothing is inappropriate and considered offensive in the Mennonite colonies and religious sites.

Tampons are not widely used in Paraguay and only available for purchase in urban areas, with the selection limited to OB brand non-applicator tampons. Female travelers considering packing their own supply of feminine hygiene products should keep in mind that non-applicator tampons and tampons with cardboard applicators are more environmentally friendly than sanitary pads and can be discarded safely in latrines.

Elderly & Disabled Travelers

Paraguay presents some obstacles for elderly and disabled travelers. Sidewalks in cities are often uneven and streets are full of potholes. Buses and buildings are rarely handicap-accessible. The heat can also present an issue for some travelers. However, these obstacles are not insurmountable. Most activities can be done in the early morning hours before the excessive heat sets in. Double decker buses (doble pisos) are generally have some seating on the lower level, are more comfortable, air-conditioned, and even have bathrooms.

LBGT Travelers

The LGBT community has yet to be openly accepted in Paraguayan society, with many people preferring to remain discrete or in the closet. As a result, there are only a small number of explicitly gay friendly establishments, even in the capital. Though foreigners are less likely to feel anti-gay pressures than locals, discretion is advised, particularly in regards to public displays of affection. Especially outside of urban areas, openly gay behavior is likely to draw unwanted attention (though it will mostly be limited to stares from strangers). For updated information about gay friendly establishments and LGBT community, contact the following gay rights organizations (all in Asuncion):

SOMOSGAY Tel: 021 446 258, Manduvira 367 between Chile and Alberdi,

www.somosgay.org, Mon-Thu 12pm-10pm, Fri-Sat 2pm to 12am

Paragay Tel: 021 23 28 20, corner of Peru and Teodoro Mongelos, www.paragay.org

Aireana Paraguay’s lesbian and women’s rights advocacy group, Aireana hosts a radio show on Radio Viva 90.1FM on Thursdays from 9pm to 11pm and holds cultural events and parties in their bar La Serafina. Tel: 021 492-835, 447 976, Eligio Ayala 907 between Tacuary and Estados Unidos, www.aireana.org.py

La Lista de 108

During the Stroessner era, homosexuals were lumped into the expansive and vaguely defined category of subversives subject to monitoring and mistreatment. On September 1st 1959, the charred remains of radio announcer Bernardo Aranda were found in his Asuncion home. As Aranda was suspected to be a homosexual, the police declared the murder a homosexual crime of passion, and under the guise of investigating the case compiled and published a list of Asuncion’s known and suspected homosexuals. The men on the Lista de 108 (list of 108) were subsequently rounded up, tortured, and publicly humiliated. The resulting self-censorship by Paraguay’s homosexual community is evident to this day; the openly gay community remains small and marginalized. Due to the Lista de 108, the number 108 has been associated with the homosexual community. The number will elicit giggles or comments when it comes up in certain crowds, and the Lista de 108 is mentioned frequently by gay rights advocacy groups.

Fernando de la Mora Travel Photo Gallery

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