Bourdain’s Field Notes

A lot of people have ventured to Paraguay over the years in search of some sort of a dream. My great-great-grandfather, Jean Bourdain, was one of them.

I’ve looked for this mysterious ancestor before—in Uruguay with my younger brother, Chris. We were disappointed when our trail ran cold. We were left with a cryptic reference to the news that Jean had died in Asunción, Paraguay, which begged the question: What the hell was he doing in Paraguay? And Where is Paraguay anyway?

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Travel like Bourdain

“Sometime in the mid‑nineteenth century my great‑great‑grandfather Jean Bourdain emigrated to South America. He was reported to have died here and might have been a seeker of utopian dreams.”

Know Before You Go

Paraguayans love foreign visitors. Paraguay has only recently become more accessible to tourists and, even so, it is hardly a fixture on the Latin America circuit. Rather than actively avoid tourists, many locals regard them as a curiosity. Most will ask, “Why did you come to Paraguay?” More important, they will want to know if you like it—(Te hallas aquí?) Be ready with “Rohayhu Paraguay” (I love Paraguay), and you’ll make their day.

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