Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Asuncion, Paraguay, January 30, 2018

Asuncion is an old wreck of a place.  Sidewalks are destroyed, some buildings are crumbling, there's graffiti on the walls but the people are friendly and helpful  I had a list of things to see and in a couple of hours, I was back at the hostel, enjoying the air conditionning!

Paraguay was ruled from August 1954 to February 1989 by dictator Alfredo Stroessner.  Prisoners were detained in what is now El Museo de Los Memorias.  Up to 100 prisoners were crammed in the cells.  Music was played really loud to try and drive them crazy and the bathtub was used to almost drown the prisoners-

The only opening to the solitary confinement cell where water and food could be passed-

Scissors were used to pull out finger and toe nails-

An electric prod was also used, especially on the genitals-

This ball was used to give lashes-

Over the years, almost 20,000 people were detained and close to 19,000 were tortured.  

My next stop was at the Museo de Cabildo to see clothing worn by Shamans.  There are head dresses made of feathers-

Bracelets made of shells worn around the ankles and wrists so they clinked during dances-

And maracas-

Religious statues from Colonial times were in the next room- Santa Rosa de Lima and La Virgen de Los Dolores.  It's  a funny, dark room, sort of an after thought I'm sure and a snub by the Indigenous-

Outside the Cultural Centre is the tent city - a favella or slum.  A lot of the houses were flooded, as was the soccer field so just in the last week, some have moved up into the nearby park-

Once the water subsides, they will move home.  They don't have running water or electricity but the city has moved in a few portapotties.  Walls are plywood and roofs are tin-

I would have liked to walk through the area but was warned it was too dangerous.

La Casa Del Independencia is where the leaders of the independence movement met in secret.  Paraguay became independent from Spain in May of 1811-

Inside are recreated rooms from the era-

Afterwards, I wandered around the historical Centro.  It's so hot and humid, sweat drips off my nose!

There's some decent art on the buildings.  Looks like the artist forgot about her eyes-

Everybody drinks mate and they chose their herbs fresh-

Then they're smashed in the wooden mortar-

There's somebody on just about every block doing it-

Lunch was fish soup, a Paraguan specialty.  The broth was excellent but the fish was fatty.  I don't think I've ever eaten, or rather spit out, fish fat before-

 The appetizer was boiled cassava.  It's very boring and the hot sauce was too hot for me-

Weibke, Russ and I are cooking tomorrow in Foz do Iguacu, Brazil so we went grocery shopping this afternoon.  Looking forward to moving on!

Monday, January 29, 2018

Asuncion, Paraguay, January 29, 2018

We drove from Trinidad to Asuncion, the capital of Paraguay.  Paraguay is a beautiful country of planted fields-

And many terminals-

We're in a great hostel for 2 nights, with AC!  Looking forward to visiting a couple museums and seeing the sights tomorrow!

Christine Gough joined us in El Calafate but had been with the group from Panama to Cartagena.  She is a retired elementary school principal where she taught students from kindergarten to Grade 6.  She lives in Dinnington, England where she is enjoying her retirement - going to the gym, walking, looking after her granddaughter one day/week, gardening and hanging out with friends.  This is her first overland but she's done a lot of travelling on her own.  She's travelling with Richard and boy has he smartened up since she got here!

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Trinidad, Paraguay, January 28, 2018

It rained all morning so we didn't go to the Holy Trinity of Parana Jesuit Guarani Mission until the afternoon.  The Mission was founded in 1706 and 95% of it is original but we can only see about 20%.  5000 Guarani (locals) lived here with 2 Jesuit priests.  They were not forced to live here, nor were they required to become Catholic.  The main church is on the left and the indigenous housing is on the right-

The main church-

There are many beautiful carvings decorating the walls-

Angels grace the top-

The baptismal font-

The bell tower-

A smaller church-

The altar is in front-

Great carvings-

Afterwards, rather than go to a second ruin, our driver, the owner of the campground, took us on a town tour.  15 different nationalities celebrate their cultures for a week in October at this 'Folkfest' location-

Germans rule this area and they are wealthy!  The owner of our campground is 4th generation German and started out driving a small bus (collectivo).  Today he owns the 23 hectare campground and has a 120 hectare ranch with 145 cows.  The Germans are Catholic, Lutheran and Evangelica.  There is also a large Japanese community, about 45,000, here since after WWII.  They could very easily learn the native language, Guarani, but cannot speak Spanish!  There are large cooperatives of soy products, which he says are 100% contaminated with chemicals.  They also produce wheat, corn, lumber and cattle.  There are huge implement dealers too.  45 days ago, there was a huge coke bust with many arrested.  Homes cost $100/square meter to build and there are lots of them.  These people have to be doing something to make money besides farming!

Weibke and I upgraded so I've been enjoying AC all afternoon.  Tomorrow we have a leisurely start at 8 am as we make our way to Asuncion for 2 nights.

Argentina to Paraguay, January 27, 2018

We left at 5 am and drove 7, repeat 7 hours on roads like this-

We went about 160 km.  Everybody clapped once we hit the highway.  Along the way though there were a lot of birds-

And gauchos-

moving horses-

We saw water buffalo-

And drove through a planted pine forest that smelled soooo good.  They do a lot of logging-

Most of the 7 hour drive was through pasture land and there are lots of cattle-

We got to Posadas which is on the border between Argentina and Paraguay.  2 Australians and 2 Canadians got off because they don't have visas for Paraguay.  They will meet us in Brazil.  The rest of us got groceries for the next 2 nights and carried on past Trinidad to a lovely campsite with swimming pools.  I set my tent up outside but it started raining so I moved it into a big hall type building.  Hope I can cool off.  It is really hot and humid! 

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