Most Indians have never heard of this city nor would they know where it is located.
But there are about 80 Indian families which have made this city in Paraguay as their home. Some of them are there for more than fifteen years and other have arrived in recent years.
What took them there?
Who are they?
obviously Sindhis ... Wherever there are free trade zones .. they are part of them. Panama, , Iqique, Punta Arenas, Aruba, Curacao, St Martin, Manaus...
There are some Gujratis and a few Telugu- speaking too. I attended a reception on 18 september which was organised by Prakash, who is a hard working and self effacing natural and popular leader of the community.
Indians are a tiny part of this melting pot in South America. There are people of Lebanese, Syrian, Chinese, Korean, Japanese and Brazilian origin. The heart of the city which is just four by four blocks buzzes with so many languages, colours and one cannot miss the aroma of the food from different parts of the world. Sony, JVC, Panasonic, Samsung, Nokia ... these branded names scream out from shops,boxes and billboards. Ciudad del Este is home not only to people from around the world but is also temporary home to the electronic goods ,before they are sent across to Brazil.
In the narrow dividing point between the incoming and outgoing traffic of the city, there are so many people waving you to stop. Not for parking... but with Gurani, Real, Peso, Dollar and Euro currency notes for changing.
Informal Trade is the name of the game in Ciudad del Este. The informal trade is said to be more than the official imports and exports of the country. Everything is informal in the city; trade, economy, book- keeping and transactions. The authorities have started making them more formal and proper.
There is a free flow of goods, tourists and shoppers in the city which borders Brazil and Argentina and most importantly the magnificent Iguassu Falls. Imports are mostly from China and Hongkong while the main destination of exports is Brazil. People, cars and trucks carry loads and loads of electronic and other goods from the city crossing the Friendship Bridge to Foz de Iguassu , the city on the Brazilian side.
In recent times, Brazilians are getting into Soya farming in this fertile region. Paraguay is the fourth largest exporter of soya in the world
I fell in love with the pretty, curvaceous, inviting and challenging.... golf course.. what else?
The Parana Country club surprised me with all these features. It is located on the right bank of Parana river, overlooking the city. A three wood shot will carry the ball to Brazil over the river !!
The fairways are guarded by lines of trees and the ball rolls over when it is thirsty... lot of water. Here are some pictures
There are about 800 beautiful houses ( a smaller version of Punta del Este, in Uruguay ) in the country club around the fairways of the golf course. Most of the golfers are Chinese and Koreans. I was happy to see two Indians, Vinod and Vikrant living ( and playing too!) in the golf club.
Within the golf club there is a boutique hotel Casa Blanca, straddling the right bank of the Parana river, with a view of the Brazil on the other side.