Country Numero Dos turned Tres Disasters for Ben

Posted by on May 23, 2011 in Argentina | 4 comments

Our passports had just been stamped to exist Brazil, but instead of taking us to Immigration to get our entry stamp for Argentina, our bus dropped all of us off at a random connivence store.  Ok.  As we wondered what was happening, Ben decided to pull out his laptop to pass the time away. As soon as he powered it up we both noticed a gigantic crack on his monitor in the shape of a leaf. One of our very heavy Lonely Planet guides had hit his laptop in his pack. Why didn’t we just put all of those Lonely Planet guides on our Kindle, will we ever learn.

Poor Ben.  His 10″ monitor was small enough as it was.  What was he suppose to do…then we both thought salvation in “Ciudad del Este”.

Ben’s Computer Leaf

Cuidad del Este is the second largest city in Paraguay and it’s most profitable. Located just 30 minutes from Argentina’s Iguazu Falls by bus. In Cuidad del Este the black market is legal meaning it’s like a Duty Free store except it’s a city!  There are no taxes on any of the goods, making it shopping paradise and making Paraguay an Electronics Mecca.

Both Argentina and Brazil have outrageously high taxes on electronics and imports, which makes buying electronics and other “luxury” item extremely expensive.  It’s pretty ridiculous imagine a $500 Canon Power Shot camera or a $30,000 Ford Focus.  So we figured we’d have more luck getting Ben a cheap laptop in Cuidad del Este than anywhere else.

We heard that the immigration policy was relaxed in the lawless Cuidad del Este, which was good news since we did not apply for a Paraguay visa while we were in the States and as US citizens were required to have one.  After reading about immigration officers extorting Americans without visas, we decided to ask around.

One of our hostel mates, Regina, told us that she had signed up for a ROA Tour that was to go to Cuidad del Este for an hour of shopping. She too was an US citizen who did not have Paraguay visa so we decided to use Regina as our illegal boarder hoping guinea pig, if she didn’t get stopped we would take the same tour tomorrow.

In the meantime, we walked to the out skirts of Puerto Iguazu, the Argentina city where the Iguazu Falls are located, to La Triple Frontera. La Tiple Frontera is a beautiful spot where the Iguazu and Parana rivers converge and where the natural borders of Paraguay, Argentina and Brazil intersect.

Ben and I at La Triple Fontera

We decided to take a short-cut and walk across a small park on our way back.  All of a sudden Ben started freaking out, hoping on one foot holding his other foot in his hand, his face twisted with pain, screaming at the top of his lungs that he was going to die.  As I frantically looked for the First Aid kit that we wisely carry in our daypack, he was sputtering something about a fire ant and how his foot was going to fall off.  I practically bit my lip off to hold back laughter. Ben was not having the best of days and I didn’t want to get backhanded by a fire ant infested flip-flop.

All Smiles Before the Fire Ant Incident

When we got back to our hostel, we were informed by Regina that she had no problem sneaking into Paraguay as part of a tour to Ciudad del Este. So we decided to book the tour and get some additional cash out of the ATM.  That’s when Ben’s debt card was ate by an ATM machine, cancelling out next day’s adventure because we had to go back to the bank the next morning in hopes of retrieving his card.

They say bad luck happens in 3s or 7s, so we were hoping that Ben’s streak of bad luck had run it’s course: broken computer screen, a bite from a ferocious fire ant, and a debt card held hostage all in one day! But it looked like the bad luck needed to extend itself one more day. The next morning at the bank we discovered that we had to come back the next day to retrieve his card, huh?  So in 2 days time Ben got his debt card back from the bank, permanently cancelling our Cuidad del Este trip and any hopes Ben had of a new laptop.

We learned traveling is great, but sometimes there are disappointments. You gotta just roll with the punches and smile through the fire ant induced tears.

PS Ben’s computer monitor still has the leaf like crack in it, I don’t how he uses that thing.


  1. got the new screen, just need an address

  2. Lol. Yeah getting an address is an issue. I’m sure Ben will email you as soon as we figure that one out! I hope you had a great Birthday! =)

  3. Ohhh Leah…I’m sooo happy you’ve visited Iguazu and even Ciudad del Este. It brings back soo many memories and wish I was there with you guys. My sister is in Machu Pichu right now so I’m getting even more nostalgic to get back home. Enjoy your trip, stay safe and most importantly continue being free spirited and open minded. LOVE YOU!!!!

  4. Leah…by the way, the picture of you two on bikes crossing the vineyards is classic. Make it a fall post card. Snowy and I miss you, Maria

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