Our trip to Paraguay and to Latvia have a lot in common. People asked, why Latvia? And I’m sure people be wonderin’ why Paraguay. Every cycle we choose one WTF country. We head out on our trip full-on accepting that times may be rough – not only in hunting down goods but also in the very ‘simple’ act of buying the goods, how it all goes down.
Two days into Paraguay and we finally discover a shop worth hittin’ up. Totally stoked about the first set of notebooks we spotted and couldn’t get over the embossed spider and spider web motif. It was difficult turning the notebooks down but my gut told me to keep looking. And good thing I did! Spotted the cutest notebooks covered in honkin’ big black polka dots! The design feels way more modern, more Swiss or Scandinavian. SO cute that we’re including a double hit for each kit!
Nothing else in this shop worked, so we grabbed our goods and went on our way to search for the next golden spot. Got to an intersection where we had to cross 4 sets of roads to get to the other side. The craziest intersection ever, and I stood frozen for about 5 minutes wondering if we’d make it to the other side alive. Could this be, would this be the sequel to Real-Life Frogger?!
Made it alive and on the other side. Hi-five! From the street we spotted a store tucked way back in a strip mall. Instantly excited when I discovered their massive selection of writing instruments. AND they were displayed in rows and rows of bins that I could access! Yes!! I don’t have to use my ghetto Spanish!
I dove right into the Bic pens. Yes, we included made-in-France versions in our France Kit, but the dope made-in-Brazil collection is too amazing to not include in the Paraguay Kit! After testing all of them, we had to go with the “Bic Cristal 07 fina” – Goldenrod ink barrel in a clear case with black ink. They write so f-f-fine and look awesome with the black polka dot notebooks! So so stinkin’ cute!!
We were a bit torn, though – this is the first time we’ve gone with an item that was neither designed and/or manufactured in the source country. We found pens and pencils from a Paraguayan company but after a lot of debate, we agreed the Bic pens spotted everywhere and used by everyone totally speak to our goal – providing stylie lo-fi goods that are a daily diet item for the average student or office worker in that country.
Headed back to the hotel after scoring the Writing Instruments ‘cause it was gettin’ dark. A long journey back and that crazy intersection to cross! But first we popped into the supermarket next door to reload on water. And wouldn’t you know… we discovered the perfect Mystery Item! A phat stack of loose-leaf graph sheets for drawing. Love the designated blank canvas marked on all four sides with measurements! Remember the super dope Mystery Item in the Iceland Kit? Totally the same vibe. These sheets are used by students to replicate photographs and illustrations to scale! The supermarket didn’t have enough in stock, so we knew what tomorrow would bring – non-stop grind to hunt down the necessary quantity for the Paraguay Kit!
Headed into the city center to hit up one of the biggest office supply shops in Asunción. We were totally excited to check it out cause it isn’t a big office supply chain store from the US (um…. hello Office Depot taking over the world). Searched the shop for the loose-leaf sheets and couldn’t find them. Walked up to an employee and pulled out our pack and he walked away only to reappear 10 minutes later with one pack. 45 minutes later we finally had secured our stash.
Normally after securing goods I’m feelin awesome, ready to hi-five anybody and everybody. But not this time. It was rough. I can’t ever remember a time where we struggled so much. Was my elementary Spanish that bad? Or were they unwilling to try and work with us? I got so desperate I called the hotel to have the owner, Claude, translate for us. And even he struggled with the shop. When we returned to the hotel, Claude informed us that he thought the shop was a front for money laundering. A huge company, 10+ employees that don’t understand how to create an invoice, we’re the only shoppers, Paraguayan people are generally super nice and helpful… Who doesn’t want to make a big sale? Yes, Claude had decided the business was a front. Pushin’ through, not giving up. Front or no front - we weren’t trippin. We don’t front. We knew we had to have those goods… lo-fi lovin’ has got us whipped!