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Published: April 18th 2014
Fifi the Tapir
Fifi was friendly and was always sniffing for her next snack.
Hola nuestra amiguitos!
We will open this blog with the first page of a book about Paraguay... A remarkable book about a remarkable country!
‘An island surrounded by land’ said Boa Bastos of his country, Paraguay.
‘It’s a remarkable observation, not so much because it is true, but because it comes from a Paraguayan. I have met few Paraguayans who saw their country in relative terms, quite simply, for most, there was, quite simply, no other world than their own. As I travelled around Paraguay, I began to appreciate the scale of its insularity. It sits at the heart of a continent but not on the way to anywhere else. Bounded by three other nations, it is a country nearly twice the size of the United Kingdom but with only a tenth of the population. This puts it among one of the most sparsely populated countries in the world. In the outer margins of the country there is virtually no population at all, and these, I suppose, are its oceans… I set off in all directions from its capital, Asuncion, and every journey ended at forbidding natural frontiers: poisonous jungles, boiling rivers, deserts or endless, enervating
The blind Anaconda
marshes. The whole country has only two all-weather airports and much of the country’s supplies still come by river boats. Despite thousands of kilometers of frontier, there are but a handful of viable entry points. Paraguay is not merely isolated, it is almost impenetrable.’ (At the Tomb of the Inflatable Pig
, by John Gimlette, 2003)
We found a lovely place in Paraguay to visit!
Granja el Roble was a farm near the village of Belen, just 20 km out of Concepcion, about 200 metres south of the Tropic of Capricorn at 23°26’16"S, (which Dave searched for with his trusty GPS). The farm/camp/hospedaje was run by Peter from Germany and his Paraguayan wife, Andresa. It was a very worthwhile, all inclusive place with fresh, home cooked meals made with fresh, organic food. They caught their own fish, grew their own fruit and veggies, had free-range chickens for eggs and meat. They made bread and even brewed their own beer! We had great conversations and story-telling at mealtimes!
We were surrounded by lush tropical gardens, tropical fish tanks, fish ponds, cows, pigs, fruit trees, birds, an anaconda, a southern screamer and some other unlikely animals. (Peter and
Andresa had rescued a few mistreated animals over the years. They all now live happily on the farm, as part of the family.) All the animals have free run of the property of 20 hectares. Seriously, there's a fence in the kitchen to keep some of the animals out! It was great. We would sit down to eat dinner and a tapir would walk by!
We also experienced a few thunderstorms which put out the electricity for a day or so and washed-out parts of the roads. For the Paraguayans, it was life as usual. They say, when it rains in Paraguay, the ocean falls out of the sky. We now understood this phrase, as we watched the water flood into the open kitchen during the heavy parts! Even our arachnid friends were attempting to hide from the rain in our cabin. But our resident frogs in our bathroom did not seem to mind the rain, one bit. Our first thunder storm lasted about 14 hours and dumped 440 mm of rain on us! It was quite spectacular. There were flashes of lightning at least once per second and an almost constant rumble... Sometimes the flashes and booms occurred
Gardens at El Roble
Many nice places to sit and enjoy nature or to read a book
simultaneously and everything shook. It was very close!
Not having gotten electrocuted by lightning, this made our time at El Roble that much more special! What a great place to chill out for a few days! Thanks, Peter and Andresa!
One of the most interesting things we could take away from Paraguay, was that a Paraguayan will always strive to make a person happy, even if it means lying to them. For example, we take our car into the garage, the mechanic will tell us that it will be ready the next day at 10am. This makes us happy. But the mechanic knows fine well that he cannot fix it until the next week due to the workload. Nevertheless, he knows that by telling us our car will be done by tomorrow, it makes us feel happy until 10am tomorrow. Then after that, oh well. (This story was used in the Documentary, The Last Dictator)
We observed this "friendly gesture" when asking about a bus route.
Dave: "Does the bus go through the Chaco region?"
Man: "Yes, yes, yes".
Dave: "Are you sure it goes through the Chaco region?"
Man: "Yes, yes, yes,
through the Chaco".
So we were very happy until the bus turned left at the junction, away from the Chaco region and went the other direction...
Enjoy the photos!
T and D...
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