Sonidos de la Tierra
This musical outreach program is always searching for music teachers to instruct eager students throughout the Paraguayan countryside. www.sonidosdelatierra.org.py/
More information about volunteering in Paraguay can also be found at the Somos Voluntarios Por Un Paraguay Mejor Facebook group.
Money & Costs
Local currency is the Guarani. Guaram bills are available in denominations of Gs. 100,000 (green), Gs. 50,000 (purple and peach), Gs. 20,000 (blue), Gs. 5,000 (orange) and Gs. 2,000 (lilac and mint green).
Guaram bills are notoriously fragile. It is common to be given bills that are weathered and patched together with tape. Even the most damaged looking bills are generally accepted, though to be on the safe side it is okay to reject any that looks particularly beat up. In 2010, the central bank began experimenting with Gs. 2,000 bills made out of plastic materials said to be both more durable and hygienic than paper bills. The central bank had announced plans to replace the Guaram with the Nuevo Guaram (the new bills would have three less zeroes) in 2011 but these plans appear to be postponed. As of 2010 copper coins and Gs. 1,000 bills are no longer accepted.
Sidebar: Pirapire, which literally means fish skin in Guaram, is slang for money.
Currency exchange offices (casas de cambio) in city centers often post better rates than branches in suburban and rural areas. Banks and financieras often post slightly better rates than casas de cambio. All of them are willing to give a better rate when dealing with larger money exchanges. Official ID is required to make a transaction. Take your passport, as drivers’ licenses aren’t generally accepted. Travelers should note that as of this writing, US$100 bill series CB and D are not accepted, and many money exchange offices refuse to accept bills that have been written on. Cambios Chaco is the largest national chain of money exchange offices (www.cambioschaco.com.py). US dollars are generally accepted throughout the tourism industry. In Ciudad del Este, where most commercial activity is geared towards foreigners, many places accept dollars, Aregentine pesos, Brazilian reals, and euros.
Credit cards & Checks
Paraguay runs mostly on cash, not plastic. Credit cards are accepted at large stores and higher-end hotels. Check beforehand whether credit cards are accepted at restaurants and smaller businesses, even if they have signs purporting to do so. Outside of urban areas, expect to pay for everything in cash (with the possible exception of gas stations). You can avoid carrying around large sums of money by extracting money from town bank ATMs periodically. However, it is always wise to have a backup stash on hand. Away from major cities and towns, ATMs are harder to find, therefore, you should always keep cash on hand in case of emergencies. Traveler’s checks are nearly impossible to cash.
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