From here to God knows where.

Hiding out in Paraguay

I land in Asuncion Paraguay after a flight from Cusco Peru. I am hit by the heat when coming out of the airport door. By the time I get to the hostel, I think this could be the hottest place I have ever been to. There is only one other place I can think of.

I spent two years working in Bahrain in the middle east. It was an interesting and tough few years. In my mid-thirties I had worked my way through a severe gambling problem.

I started to pick up the pieces. I had worked mostly doing manual jobs in construction. When my head started to clear, I decided I wanted something else.

After sometime returning to education I started a job as a reservation agent for a big worldwide hotel group in a call centre in Cork. I did not know it at the time, but I was very determined. I wanted to make up for the lost time.

I was promoted to several positions rapidly. Within a few short years, I ended up being sent to Bahrain in a management position. Looking after reservation departments. I was excited and nervous.

I know I did not do everything well but I was unlucky to have as my boss in Bahrain one of the most horrible people I have ever met. He delighted in other peoples problems.

I remember coming into my office one morning to find the night manager crying. I asked why he was crying. He told me our mutual boss did not renew his contract.

It might not seem much to you or I but it meant him returning to Sri Lanka and poverty. I went to the office to ask why he had done it. Because I can he replied.

At our morning meetings, he loved to pick on a person and try to humiliate them. People would just sit back and take it. One day he chooses me. I did not sit back. So began almost a year of getting shit at the morning meeting and giving shit back.

50% of my work was at the hotel, and 50% was working for a Turkish guy who was the boss of the whole area in the Middle East and North Africa. I loved working with him and travelled a lot with him. He was a gentleman. I think that was the main problem. My boss in the hotel in Bahrain resented the fact that I got one with the big boss.

All bad things come to an end and when I finished my contract I left Bahrain and the company. That company was the best I ever worked for.

I do hope that guy got his comeuppance. I put it behind me but he really messed around with a lot of people’s lives. A lot worse happened other people.

When I returned to Ireland I did a lot of deadbeat jobs before I got a chance to prove myself again. I did well with another hotel company.

After my last venture finished up I knew I had to reinvent myself again for the fourth time. I had a lot of energy in my mid-30s. You need drive, ambition, confidence and desire to reinvent yourself.

I would need all those four for one more reinvention. I am not sure if I have one now. Maybe that is why I am in South America now. To prove I have the drive, ambition, confidence and desire to spend six months in South America travelling on my own.

Full stop Asuncion Paraguay

I have now passed the three-month mark on my journey to South America. I have seen great places, Met great people. Had a lot of ups and a few downs.

I have filled a lot into these past three months. Almost every day I have done some activity. Seeing places or writing blogs. Something has happened to me in Asuncion.

From the first day I arrived, I feel like the energy has gone out of me. The weird thing it is not in a bad way. It is in a relaxed way.

Ok, the over 40c heat has something to do with it for sure. My level of activity has slowed down considerably in the last week. I am not sure why but a guy from the U.S who has been here for a while said Asuncion does that to you. The heat is intense.

What is Asuncion like? I am not quite sure yet. It does not feel like any other South American Capital I have been to. It probably is the quietest capital city I have ever seen.

The shopping area in the centre is not exactly bustling. There are few cars and very few tourists.

Studies have said that up to 50% of the population is poor. 10% of people own 66% of the land, and over 30% of rural people own no land.

Even in the city centre, you can see small communities of homeless people living right next to government buildings.

I cannot help wondering why the Paraguayan people are not protesting at this situation. In every country, I have visited the people are rising. Columbia, Ecuador, Peru, Chile and Bolivia. Maybe it is too hot here. Perhaps you get to a stage where you give up.

Paraguay does have a tough history. In 1864 the country went to war against Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay. It was a disaster for the country. It is estimated that over 70% of the male population died during the war.

In 1954 Alfredo Stroessner, an army officer, took power. He went on to be the longest-serving dictator in the history of South America. He ruled for over thirty-five years until he was deposed in 1989.

He had the country in a permanent state of siege which allowed him to do anything he wanted. He also had a liking for Nazis on the run after WW2. His regime gave many Nazis a safe haven, including Josef Mengele.

So am I getting out of Asuncion ASAP? No way. I am finding it one of the most interesting places I have visited so far. I think the big thing for me is the lack of other tourists. This is a rare thing to find in our small world these days.

It is not easy these days to find counties where you can see a society operating in a way that does not take into account tourists. This can mean simple things such as being able to walk a street without getting asked to buy some stuff you don’t want.

I am sure the street sellers would like to do this, but they have not seen enough tourists yet to be able to exploit the situation. I for one, am enjoying this.

The only people that stop me on the street are the money changers. I find them curious as I am sure they have been here for a long time. Not for European or U.S tourists. For other South American travellers who for one reason or another have ended up in Asuncion and need currency changed.

The people so far are really friendly and very curious to know what I am doing in Paraguay. Try getting that experience in Barcelona.

We Meat Again.

I have noticed it for a while now. My clothes are looser. I have more energy. Some friends have commented on my pictures. I have lost weight on this trip. I don’t know how much. I need to check before it is too late.

Staying in hostels is good for me. When I book an apartment, I am alone and can nibble all day. Just open the fridge. Because food is so cheap here, I eat out 99% of the time. This way, I am limiting myself to three meals a day.

Ok now might not be the best time to talk about weight loss on my blog. There is really one dish in Paraguay. It is Meatttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttt. Steak and pork are the big two. Something resembling a potato and I have yet to see any veg.

I have just realised how healthy Peru was. All those fish meals. A little bit of rice and veg. I have just remembered how I like meat. My body also is noticing a change. I do think less meat is good. I feel it but not eating meat in Paraguay may not be possible.

Anyway, I have booked another few nights in this very warm sleepy and a bit weird capital city. More news next week.

This weeks video is a quick look around the centre of Asuncion Paraguay.

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Comments (3):

  1. Geraldine Hanley

    November 26, 2019 at 10:55 am

    Hi Tom, just a quick hello from me…. I’m really enjoying your blogs and am learning loads from you, and I dont just mean about geography! I admire your bravery and your resilience to keep going and push yourself through some fairly hairy situations and places. You look great and maybe its fate that you found Asuncion to your liking ….. now might be the time for some r&r- if you can stick the heat! Stay safe and enjoy xx Geraldine

    • PATRICK O Neill

      November 26, 2019 at 11:40 am

      Thanks a million, Gearldine. I really appreciate it.

    • PATRICK O Neill

      November 26, 2019 at 11:40 am

      Thanks a million, Gearldine. I really appreciate it.


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