Packing for Winter in Paraguay – Empacando para Invierno en Paraguay

laundry hanging to dry in paraguay

Fast drying clothes are a must - Prendas de secado rápido son imprescindibles

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Paraguayan winters are generally mild, with temperatures ranging between 55º F and 74ºF. If you´ve already spent a winter in Paraguay you may think “Mild? I was freezing!” And you´re right. These numbers are deceptive because they leave out one important fact: it is often the same temperature inside as it is outside. Paraguayan houses are built for hot weather with lots of open spaces and little insulation. In the countryside the kitchen and dining areas are often outdoors and even fancy houses tend to be very drafty. I have met many people from cold, snowy climates who swear they´ve never been colder than they were during winter in Paraguay.

If you´ll be spending a significant amount of time in Paraguay between June and August consider packing the following:

Thermal underwear

Especially useful since it isn´t bulky.

Sleeping bag

If you´ll be living in the countryside this can make all the difference in getting a good night´s sleep. If you are truly sensitive to the cold you may also want to consider sleeping with a hot water bottle (or Nalgene). One Peace Corps volunteer I know even went as far as bringing a down comforter… she didn´t regret it!

Outdoor accessories such as a hat, scarf and gloves

Even in the dead of winter you may find yourself spending a significant amount of time outdoors since it´s often warmer outside (especially in the sun) than inside.

Fast-drying clothes

Most Paraguayans line dry their clothing. While this works well during the spring and summer it can take a long time in the winter, especially during a string of rainy days. Synthetic fabrics and wool will dry faster (and are therefore less likely to develop a dank smell while drying). In a pinch you can also hang your clothes in front of a fan, on the oven door, or the radiator coils behind your refrigerator.

Light weight clothes

Warm snaps are common, even in the dead of winter (this is Paraguay, after all). A surprise 90 degree day in the middle of winter is a great treat… unless you only have bulky clothing!

Have you made it through a Paraguayan winter? What are your packing recommendations?

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Los inviernos paraguayos suelen ser templados, con temperaturas entre 13ºC y 23ºC. Si ya has pasado un invierno en Paraguay quizás estés pensando “¿Templado? ¡Yo me congelé!” Y tienes razón. Esas temperaturas son engañosas por que no toman en cuenta algo muy importante: el frío se suele sentir tanto afuera como adentro. Las casas paraguayas son construidas para un clima caluroso, con muchos espacios abiertos y poco aislamiento térmico. En las casas del campo la cocina y el comedor tienden a estar al aire libre. Hasta las casas lujosas tienen muchas corrientes de aire. He conocido gente proveniente de climas fríos con mucho nieve que aseguran haber sentido más frío durante el invierno paraguayo que en su tierra natal.

Si estás planeando pasar mucho tiempo en Paraguay entre junio y agosto es recomendable empacar lo siguiente:

Ropa interior térmica

Especialmente útil porque no ocupa mucho espacio.

Bolsa de dormir

De especial utilidad en el campo ya que te ayudará a dormir cómodamente durante las noches frías. Si eres muy friolento/a también puedes dormir con una bolsa (o botella) de agua caliente. Una voluntaria del Cuerpo de Paz que conozco hasta trajo consigo un edredón de pluma de ganso… ¡y no se arrepintió!

Accesorios invernales como una gorra, bufanda y guantes

Aún en pleno invierno es probable que pases bastante tiempo afuera ya que suele ser menos frío afuera (especialmente bajo el sol) que adentro.

Ropa de secado rápido

La mayoría de los paraguayos ponen sus ropas a secar en el sol. Esto funciona bien durante la primavera y el verano pero puede tomar mucho tiempo en el invierno, especialmente durante los días lluviosos y húmedos. Prendas de lana y telas sintéticas se secan más rápidamente que las de algodón (y porende no son tan propensas a tener olor a moho). La otra alternativa sería acudir al ventilador, la puerta del horno, o el radiador de la refrigeradora para secar tus ropas.

Ropas livianas

Las olas de calor son comunes, inclusive en el invierno. Las prendas livianas no ocupan mucho espacio y te ayudarán a sobrellevar los días de calor cómodamente.

¿Ya sobreviviste un invierno paraguayo? ¿Cuáles son tus recomendaciones?


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7 comments on “Packing for Winter in Paraguay – Empacando para Invierno en Paraguay
  1. Sara & Art says:

    Thank you for this topic! Just in the nick of time– 3 shopping days left before our trip! Now all we need is some extra weight allowance in our luggage 🙂

  2. Ralph Hannah says:

    I remember the winter of 2011 when it got down to 0c one morning- I was so thankful that I lived through a winter in Northern England without central heating as a student – it prepared me well!

    Always wear several layers as it traps the warm air in between layers to insulate you, better than just one big coat over a t-shirt. In bed I wore a hoodie and put it over my head to protect that from the cold.

    Fortunately I had a “split” air-conditioner that also blows out hot air, I used to switch that on for an hour or so before going to sleep and then set it on the timer to go off about an hour later (if it is on all night you would end up sweating in all those clothes).

  3. Carol says:

    Layers layers and more layers! And fleece! I have let many tours of adopted Paraguayan children and their American families during July and August for years since 1998, and had to become an expert so to speak on winter weather clothes and Paraguay’s winter! It seems there is always a very cold stretch between early July to mid August, then things start to warm up a bit. I work silk long underwear and fingerless gloves to teach high school when I was living in Paraguay for a year because it was colder in the classrooms than outside! I remember letting my students go outside to side in a patch of sun to do math work! The air conditioners many times serve as heaters during the cold snaps, but it takes a long time to heat a huge high ceiling class room with one tiny air conditioner unit! Houses these days in Paraguay have splits, which are both air conditioners and heaters, and will do the job (if there are no power failures or media luz!). And fireplaces that heat up walls do the trick! Keep the cocido nearby and, by all means, if you are buying a used car in Paraguay on the “playa” on Mcal. Lopez in Fernando de la Morra, be sure to have the heat hooked up before you buy your imported used right hand drive Japanese import, that is switched to left hand drive before it is sold! That heater comes in handy if you have to commute to Asuncion on those 36 F mornings!!!

  4. paraguay says:

    Carol, sounds like you have the drill down pat for winters here. Once the cold weather sets in it always takes me about a week to remember that it is time to be outside during the day – completely the opposite from the rest of the year! Silk underwear is key! Even though I get strange looks I always love my puffy down vest for the winter, especially since it doubles as a pillow and lumbar support while traveling by bus! Good point about making sure the heat is hooked up properly. We had to have our car´s AC redone because all the hosing was loose from the steering wheel switcheroo. I guess we´ll find out this winter whether the heat was done properly!

    Ralph, I like your system too – layers really are key, especially if you´re going to be traveling. Once you are in the sun it can get hot and you´ll want to strip off a couple of layers.

  5. Lance Cope says:

    For me it was hot oatmeal before bed and mate de coco.

  6. I served in PCPY from 2011-2013, and I am the type of person who likes to travel light and not be weighed down by lots of “stuff.”

    For others like me, remember: Millions of Paraguayans survive the winters in PY using only resources available there. You can buy most of the things on this list in PY for a fraction of the price you would pay in the U.S. (And yes, U.S. bought items are sometimes higher quality, but if you’re a volunteer, you only need this stuff to last 2 years, not 20.) I never used the sleeping bag I brought with me- once it started getting cold, I just went to the market and got a massive huge blanket for a few bucks that kept me warm my whole service. In the end, I left the beautiful down sleeping bag behind because I wanted to travel S.A. after my service, and it was too bulky and weighed me down.

    If I could go back in time, I would talk to a lot of Paraguayans in March/April about what they use/do/buy for the cold, and just mimic their practices. For those who are going down in the middle of the cold months, I would bring basic cold-weather items, then stock up on the rest after getting my bearings in my training community.

    I know when you’re getting ready to go, there is a feeling like “OMG I have to bring EVERYTHING with me because there is NOTHING where I’m going and I have NO IDEA what I might want/need.” But seriously, the best thing you can do is relax and not freak out, because if you really need something, you WILL be able to find it there. I regret bringing so much crap with me that I never used or needed.

  7. paraguay says:

    Great comment and advice!

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