Chiperia Maria Ana
Started by single mother Maria Ana Lopez, this roadside chipa stand has burgeoned into a bustling business with piping hot chipa served almost round the clock. As you pull up chiperas (all single mothers) race to your car, each more eager than the next to sell her chipa. They also sell steaming cups of sweet cocido. There is a small cantina where you can pick up other snacks and drinks and the bathrooms are kept clean. The store itself is on the right-hand side of the road leading towards Ciudad del Este but those going the other way need not despair – Maria Ana has chiperas stationed on that side as well. This chipa stand is so popular there is even a song written about it (“Chiperia Maria Ana” by Quemil Yambay). Tel: 0514 215 457, Rt 2 km 68.5, daily 3am – 11pm, Gs. 2,000-5,000
La Casa del Mani
This nice roadside store sells all manner of peanut products as well as honey cake. Tel: 0981 886 800, 0981 953 635, Rt 2 km 69, daily 7:30am-6pm, Gs. 5,000-12,000
A better option for those who want to eat something in addition to chipa, Chiperia Leticia has a by the kilo buffet. The specialty is fried pork, and of course the chipas made on the premises. There is also a minimarket. Tel: 0514 215 509, Rt 2, km. 74.5, open daily 24 hrs, Gs, 2,000-35,000
Chiperia Barrero is the best known chiperia in all of Cordillera. However, you don’t need to go to Eusebio Ayala to try their chipa as they have trucks constantly winding through the streets of Asuncion blaring “Chipa Barreeeero!” through loudspeakers. They often park outside of popular nightclubs in the wee hours of the morning and sell to exiting revelers. While the chiperia itself sells normal Gs. 2,000 chipa the trucks are usually only stocked with enormous Gs. 5,000 rings about half a foot in diameter. Tel: 0981 559 858, Rt 2, km 79, www.chipabarrero.com, open daily 24 hrs Gs.
The Life of a Chipera
Making and selling chipa is one of Paraguay’s most prevalent cottage industries. Some people work for road side chipa stands while others are “freelance” chiperas that walk around town, baskets of chipa perched atop their heads. Many chiperas have a fixed route, stopping by hair salons, minimarkets and government offices daily to sell to their clientele. Most chiperas mix the dough by hand – only larger commercial ventures use electric mixers to make their dough. During holidays such as Easter week chiperias big and small receive large orders. Although the majority of chiperas are women you can also see men selling chipa on the street. Many choose to sell both chipa and cocido which certainly requires excellent balance.
Throughout the country (with the exception of the Chaco) there are stands along the roadside selling chipa to passers by. Chiperas working roadside stands work on commission receiving between 10% and 30% of the sales from each basket. You will often see them trying to outrun each other to get to potential customers. Most stands have negotiated exclusive deals with bus companies that travel along their road and chiperas hop on buses constantly to sell to passengers. Watching a chipera squeeze all the way to the back of a crowded bus without dropping any chipa is an impressive sight.
Los Ninos Martires de Acosta Nu
The Battle of Acosta Nu, fought almost entirely by children on the Paraguayan side, is one of the most tragic events of the disastrous Triple Alliance War. This battle came only days after the neighboring town of Piribebuy was the site of massive casualties. According to witnesses the child soldiers were attacked viciously and the battlefield set ablaze. The anniversary of this horrific event was declared Dia del Nino (Children’s Day) as a tribute to all the child martyrs of the war. Every year the Dia del Nino is celebrated on August 16th with festivals in schools and parties that include a chocolatada (hot chocolate and cake) and plenty of gifts all around.