Ciudad del Este, Paraguay, has a population: 310,000, but the metropolitan area is around half-million. The city was founded in 1957. Because it's a new city it has no interesting architecture, no interesting cathedral or major church, and no central plaza. The city sits along the banks of the Paraná River, which is also the border between Paraguay, Brazil, and Argentina. Upriver from the city a few kilometers is one of the world's largest hydroelectric dams. A few kilometers south of CDE the Iguazú branches off the Paraná River. The Iguazú River is the location of the famous Iguazú Falls, and this river forms the border between Brazil and Argentina. Ciudad del Este can be translated, literally, to City of the East because it is the eastern-most city in Paraguay, so is also known as the city of the rising sun.
The city is a bit on the hilly side, unlike the cities in the West of Paraguay where the land is pretty much flat as a pancake. And, the original planners of the city did not take into consideration leveling the land from the river up and into the city, which means almost immediately after leaving the bridge the roads start going uphill. This makes for a city that is not walking friendly. Also, many sidewalks are in very bad condition, there is litter everywhere. It's very dirty, crowded, and there is the typical terrible inner-city traffic. The city was never planned to grow into the size it is today, and was not planned on a grid layout because of the hilly region, that was simply not easily done. They also did very little to flatten the landscape which only lead to even more disorganized neighborhoods and streets. The city center is predominantly shopping centers, and lots of them. People from Brazil and Argentina come here to do much of their shopping for the lower prices.
Ciudad del Este has a humid subtropical climate. The average daytime high of 28° C (82° F), and the nightly average low of 17° C (62° F). The city's elevation averages 185 meters (607 feet). The yearly average rainfall amounts to 1852 mm (73 in). There has been two recorded snowfalls in CDE in recorded history.
So, my impressions: I don't much care for CDE, certainly not as a place to live. Yes, there are some neighborhoods that are nice and loaded with big, expensive modern homes; the park around the lake with it's running/bike lane seperate from the walking path, a few other parks and many smaller green spaces. But, that city center is simply an awful place.
My goal is to find a new place to live. So to reach that goal, I am traveling most of South America, visiting the countries of Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, and Chile, passing through Argentina, visiting Paraguay, passing through a bit of Brazil, and finally visiting Uruguay. I have a list of towns, about 70 that meet these qualifications: Cities with average day temperatures of 22-28° C (72-83° F) and night temps of 14° C (57° F) and higher; and a population between 28,000-300,000. I analyzed climate and population data of around 700 towns in the countries mentioned above and then pulled out the ones that meet the previously mentioned criteria, which leaves about 70. My preference leans towards towns of less than 100,000 people. And, now that I have visited more than 30 towns/cities, I've decided I will probably want an inland town. I love the beach and walking in the warm water, but getting sunburned is just too easy, even on a cloudy day. At least here in Ecuador. I've also decided that any town with more than 100,000 population will be too big. I've decided that any small town/city (less than around 80,000 population) that meets the temp specifications and has a supermarket and ATM is one worth considering to live in.
My goal is to visit the towns and discover which one calls out to me - "Chip, Chip, make your new home here, this is your new home town". That hasn't happened yet, but the towns listed below are very close to giving me that feeling. At any rate, I am not visiting tourist attractions or archeological sites, etc, those will have to wait for another trip through South America.
At this point in my journey, I had ten towns on my Top 10 list, but I narrowed it down to four:
- Tingo Maria, Peru
- Moyobamba, Peru
- Catamayo, Ecuador
- Puyo, Ecuador
In my travels in Ecuador, I visited 32 towns/cities. In Peru, I visited 26 towns/cities; in Chile, only five towns; and in Argentina, I visited 13 towns. I have now visited eleven cities in Paraguay.
Next up: Encarnación, Paraguay.