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Published: April 13th 2014
D and T checking in once again to amuse you...
The country of Paraguay...
We took a bus across the international bridge between the Argentinian city of Posadas and the Paraguayan city of Encarnación, changed a few dollars with the sketchy money-changers on the street and became instant millionaires (in Paraguayan Guaranís at least). Encarnación is very clean and quite sleepy for a city. There’s a nice beach area by the river and plenty of cheap markets to get supplies! And there was good fruit in town, finally! Fruit had been quite rare in these here parts during our travels so we feasted on mango, papaya, guava, and the heavenly maracuya or mburucuya as it’s called here (not sure of the English translation – but it’s similar to a passion fruit). And the ice-cream wasn't bad either!
Not far from Encarnación are the UNESCO World Heritage Jesuit ruins of La Santísima Trinidad del Paraná and Jesús de Tavarangüe. They’ve been well restored, are well kept and are one of Paraguay’s top tourist attractions. We arrived early and we were the first people there . In fact, we were the only ones there… We really enjoyed the ruins especially
since we had them to ourselves. A local motor-taxi driver was thrilled to take us to the other ruins at the village of Jesús. We were likely his only passengers for the day and he treated us like royalty. He was very proud and polite and his smile beamed from ear to ear as he drove us to the next village. Everyone waved and smiled at us as we rattled by. We felt very special indeed!
According to the guest book at La Santísima Trinidad del Paraná, the previous visitor (i.e. one person) to the site was two days before us and there was another two days before him! Indeed, Paraguay is infrequently visited, but it is a gem! As a country it lacks the ‘mega-highlights’ of its neighbours (Argentina, Brazil and Bolivia), it has expensive and peculiar visa regulations for some nationalities, and it is a bit out of the way too. But the ice-cream isn’t too shabby!
We’d been in the country overnight before we had even realized that there was a time difference, this made for an interesting conversation at the bus station. In addition, it meant that we had a perfect connection as our
bus was about to depart just as we got to the platform (as opposed to waiting an hour)! Asunción… An odd capital city!
The majestic palace in Plaza de Independencia overlooks a poverty stricken slum area of the downtown! Security guards watch over the legislature building while the homeless and hungry wander the litter-strewn streets. Asunción is a mix of the mega-rich elite with their fancy cars and mansions, and the ultra-poor with rags for clothes and nothing to eat…
We were the middle class here and we felt it… It was quite attractive though, even if the heat was a little intense at times! Thirty-five degrees Celcius in the shade (although there is no shade in Asunción, so we were not sure how they figured that out). The jumble of city life was great! We ate in a well-to-do restaurant which was right next to a street vendor selling empanadas (a local pastry). Then we crossed the street as beaten up taxis and buses growled past in clouds of black smoke followed by silent sports cars idling by. The crumbling tiled pavements changed to asphalt then to marble. The buildings alternated between rundown, graffiti-covered concrete structures
to glitzy, glassy, high-end condominiums. Bustling markets filled the paths outside big-name stores. The smells of fresh bread and urine, steak and exhaust, flowers and garbage… And did we mention the ice-cream – it’s great!
The people have been very helpful and really friendly here, both the indigenous Guaraní and the Spanish speaking people, and they speak nice and clearly which makes it a lot easier for us to understand. That whole, ‘ll’ and ’y’ conundrum of the ‘shouthern Shouth American countriesh’ has now gone… It’s very refreshing! Moving North…
We packed up after a couple of days in the Capital and headed northward to Concepción for a quick over-nighter before moving on… The hotel we chose in Concepción was purely based on convenience of location! It was close to the bus drop-off point and we did not need a taxi to get there. And it was cheap – bonus! We, therefore, got what we paid for! We could list ALL the interesting characteristics of the room to amuse us all but the list would go on and on! So we will only name a few: the two-year-old gum on the walls (not that we carbon dated
it – but it was an educated guess), a boarded up window, moldy shelves, broken doors, threadbare sheets, saggy, worn mattresses, crumbling plaster walls, flaking paint, a leaking and broken air-conditioner, stupid plumbing, electrical wires all tangled and taped, etc… We did have good laugh about it all though! Definitely worth paying 80,000 guaranís for the night (which is less than $20 USD), for entertainment purposes alone! One positive thing about the place was that there were no bedbugs. Always a silver lining...
What else was there in Concepción? Well, we saw a great big statue of the Virgin Mary and a really cool cardboard cut-out of Spiderman and his chums!
Having been in Paraguay for a few days, we started to think up some clever analogies of our challenging adjustments to the heat and humidity. A few of them we will share with you. Por ejemplo:
1) My underwear feels like stamp
2) It feels like my clothes are being ironed whilst wearing them.
3) The effect of the heat on our mental capabilities we termed as the "Stupid Effect". For example,
a) Mistaking a sarong for an empanada... b) Waiting for photos
to download on the blog, without pressing the download button... c) Severe chronic scraffling (scraffling = to look for something, irritantly).
Hasta la proxima, D y T.
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