7 Dec

There was so much to do in Paraguay, it was hard to know where to start. See the Jesuit ruins? Travel to the tri-border of Paraguay, Argentina and Brazil to see the Falls? Go north to the Chaco (billed as “South America’s last frontier”, a wild and natural place)(and let’s consider, for a moment, that the Chaco is being billed as the “last frontier” in South America, an enormous continent with innumerable wide open spaces. Chaco, I CALL YOUR BLUFF!).

Alas, our trip kept us centered in Asunción, the capital. I had to work and Greg had his assignment in the nearby towns. So, instead of trying to conquer the falls and the Chaco, we instead spent a lot of time inside, avoiding the oppressive heat and humidity, and I watched more CSI, Law & Order, Grey’s Anatomy, 30 Rock and Seinfeld than is probably advisable. BUT I WILL NOT BE JUDGED!

I liken our time in Asunción to staying on the outskirts of a state capital like Phoenix. Sure, there are important capital-like-things that are going on, but good lord is that place BORING. Sure, there are historical buildings scattered around here and there, but come 6PM it’s a veritable ghost town. Sure, there were other parts of town that were more happening, but it was a lovely departure to be able to relax in a part of town where nothing was really going on during the evening. We were able to relax, read, watch TV, work. The people were kind (if a little stand-offish)(years of dictatorial rule will do that, I imagine) and we were left to our own devices more often than not.

We stayed in the historic center of town, near aging colonial buildings, some that housed bodies of government and others that just stood there, stoic, important and crumbling.

The first day we visited a barrio on the outskirts of the city proper with an organization that builds homes and does a bit of social work for those that live in the barrio. Bañados, the barrio, is thus named because it sits in the flood zone of the Paraguay River; when the river rises the barrio is filled with water, a baño, or bath, is the result. The organization helps by buildings homes that are slightly elevated, bringing people’s homes (and beds and kitchens) a few key inches above the water level.

As one might imagine, it was humbling. I find that happens quite a bit in our travels, and I don’t resent the feeling of being kept in check.

Greg spent a great deal of his time working with and interviewing (and being interviewed on the radio!) in another part of Bañados. His article will be forthcoming, eventually, but I have been sworn to secrecy on our marital tattoos (JUST KIDDING)(about the tattoo part).

But otherwise, don’t you hate it when the very obviously guilty defendant receives a “non guilty” verdict at the end of SVU? The worst. Blech.

Our second to last day in Asunción, I did have a chance to go with Greg to an organic agriculture school about 1 hour outside of the city. We dodged a few cow-crossings and wily dogs to make our way to Cerrito and the school. It was sprawling and verdant with mango trees dotting the campus, a few animals, small-scale crops and a dairy where they converted raw milk into cheese, yogurt and milk, all to be sold in the nearby pueblo. There was even a brief visit by a hungry monkey who ate his fill in one of the mango trees and then rode off on the branches into the horizon.

And now we are in transit from Santiago to Bogotá. Tomorrow morning at 6AM we will go from Bogotá to Medellín. I am sort of upset that we are missing the beautiful candle ceremony that people celebrate on the 7th in Medellín, but I am secretly hoping people will just leave their candles out, anyways. It’s hard to take decorations down, y’all!


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