paraguay Tag

asuncion, paraguay, photos, travel in paraguay, things in asuncion (3)

Snaps in Asuncion

Asuncion, Paraguay If the countries of South America were humans, then poor Paraguay might have a complex. It would be hard being ignored while your bigger neighbours - Brazil, Argentina and even Bolivia - get all the attention from the foreign tourists. But that's the way things have been for Paraguay for a long time and it doesn't look like anything is going to change anytime soon. In the capital, Asuncion, there has been very little effort on tourist infrastructure. But that doesn't mean there's nothing to see. Like any capital, the seat of government brings with it a palace, a parliament, and a collection of patriotic monuments (albeit quite sparse). In my opinion, it's not worth spending too much time in Asuncion. There are very few 'sights'; there is very little 'culture'; there is hardly any 'vibe'. The true wonders of Paraguay are outside the cities in the rural areas with their...

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23 November
travelling paraguay, tourism, paraguay buses, sites, sights, ascuncion, ciudad del este

Travels through Paraguay

Tips for travel in Paraguay As the bus drives along the bumpy dirt road, I look desperately out the window. Through the haze of the red dust being thrown into the air, I look for a sign. Not a mystical symbol of guidance or anything that ethereal – I’m talking about an actual sign. You see, I’m travelling in the middle of Paraguay and have no idea where I am. I know I’m supposed to be getting off at a small village somewhere but, as far as I know, it could be any of the stops the bus is making. This seems to be a recurring theme of my travels in Paraguay. In some senses one of the hardest countries in South America to get around but, in some other senses, one of the easiest. Let me explain. The reason I was staring out the bus window for any hint of my location...

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10 February
paraguay, jesuit ruins, trinidad, jesus, unesco, world heritage

The least-visited UNESCO World Heritage site?

The Paraguay Jesuit missions at Trinidad With my writings of Paraguay, there seems to have been a bit of a theme to many of the stories. Quite often it’s been about people coming to the country as an escape from the sufferings of home or with aspirations to create a better world. The communist colonialists of New Australia did it, East German Peter at Granja Roble did it, and the native Paraguayan tribes experienced the missionaries doing it. None of those people was the first, though. Much earlier (and undoubtedly still not the first), the Jesuits came to South America to spread the word of the religion. The Paraguayans were in their targets as much as any others in the continent. After all, this was the 1600s and borders meant very little. In fact, borders and land ownership were much less important than faith to many people – and so the Jesuits...

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09 February
encarnacion, paraguay, yacycreta dam, places to stay, things to do, travelling in paraguay

The city that disappeared

Encarnacion, Paraguay I’m not normally one to use guidebooks. I’m certainly not normally one to use the maps in guidebooks. In Paraguay, though, the options for planning ahead are limited. So, I had dutifully studied the map in the <insert famous brand here> guidebook for the city I was heading to, Encarnacion. I’d been looking at it on the bus… the bus where the air-conditioning is to open the windows, regardless of the red dirt roads and the so-coloured dust that blows in and blankets everything inside, including me and my bag. And by looking at the map I had planned how I was going to spend the afternoon exploring the city. I had set my expectations by the guidebook. I was expecting a population of about 70,000 people in Encarnacion; I was expecting a cheap hotel near the bus station; and I was expecting there to be roads and buildings where the...

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07 February
granja el roble concepcion, paraguay, places to stay in concepcion, biology, ecotourism in paraguay

Beyond the wall…

Escaping to Paraguay The year was 1989 and as The Berlin Wall was torn down from around him, Peter Gärtner saw an opportunity. He was a biologist – for work and for love. Within East Berlin, though, the concrete jungle offered little connection with nature. It was not a city where his passion could flourish, his life and dreams confined in a rigid structure of the industrial rather than the natural. As a young student he would spend his weekends in the local forest, exploring and discovering, but it was never enough to satisfy – just enough to keep him going. Then one day the barriers were demolished. The Berlin Wall came down and Peter realised he could escape East Germany. Two days later, he left, having decided to go to the furthest place geographically and culturally he could think of...

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06 February
paraguay, itaipu dam, what to do in ciudad del este, biggest dam in the world

That’s dam big!

Itaipu Hydroelectric Dam Paraguay When you think of Paraguay (which, admittedly, doesn’t happen often), you don’t necessarily think of engineering wonders of the twentieth century. But there, tucked away in the east of the country, is a marvel to rival some of the most famous constructions in the world. It is, though, as controversial as it is magnificent. Itaipu Dam – the world’s second largest hydroelectric project. Just the name is a source of pride for the Paraguayans. The enormous construction stretches across the Parana River to Brazil and is shared by the two countries. But it’s Paraguay that gets the most from it, both economically and in patriotic satisfaction. About 80 per cent of Paraguay’s energy supply comes from the dam. It is quite literally the country’s source of light. In a nation as poor as this one, it is seen as an accomplishment that has been unparalleled since it was opened...

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02 February
travelling paraguay, indigenous, native, communities, survival international

Land of the lost

Paraguay's indigenous tribes Dozens of members of the community – mostly children – stand around listening. In the middle of the circle, the Paraguayan village leader is speaking. Slowly, through a translator, he makes his message clear. “We need more land,” he says. Looking around, as I do at that moment, there seems to be plenty of land and much of it apparently unused. But things are more complicated than that. These are the indigenous people of Paraguay – the natives who had their land taken from them in the great settlement and missionary period of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. When they say they need more land, they mean they want it back. Here in the indigenous community of Makthlawaiya, about one hundred kilometres from the nearest major town, life moves slowly. In many senses it’s simply subsistence living for the population, which is measured in hundreds, not thousands. Villagers grow...

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31 January
pro cosara, paraguay, atlantic forest, things to do in paraguay, conservation

Saving the forests of Paraguay

Paraguay's Atlantic Forest So, to my right, there’s a rustle in the undergrowth. I turn quickly, scanning the mottled green of the Atlantic Forest, hoping to see where the sound’s coming from… but it doesn’t look like there’s anything there. I hesitate, just briefly in case something emerges from the bushes, and then turn back to the path and keep going. It’s at this point I remember reading that there are jaguars in this part of Paraguay and I start to question my decision to go exploring the wilderness on my own. Already I’m slightly on edge. I seem to be in a running battle with the spider population of the forest and they are starting to win. Their webs stretch across the narrow path I’m walking along and I have to move slowly to make sure I see them in time to avoid being caught with the other insects. One time,...

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25 January
nueva australia, new australia, nueva londres, paraguay

The search for a new Australia

Nueva Australia Paraguay It had taken me two days, countless bus trips (ok, about 3), a night in a strange unknown city, a bribe to a taxi driver, and many awkward conversations in bad Spanish – but I had finally made it to the tiny place in the middle of Paraguay that isn’t even on a map: ‘Nueva Australia’ or ‘New Australia’. After the struggle to get here, I could start to understand the arduous journey a group of Australians took more than a century ago to start a new colony deep in the heart of South America. It was to become the world’s first example of communism… but, as has been the case with many of those societies, it all came crashing down around them. This is the story of New Australia. Sitting in the shade of a tree, sipping the traditional Paraguayan herbal tea, a few of the residents tell...

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24 January