Sometimes I just sat down on a park bench and watched the day go by, wrote memories into my little notebook or watched the people. This is a collection of stories from locals and my observations.
Although there are a lot of differences to see in terms of quality of buildings and wealth in Paraguay, its capital seems flooded by practical forward thinking. Of course people still sell things on the streets and you can spot shoe shiners in the parks, but they all try to make their lives as efficient as possible. This is something other people from different South American countries do not have time for.
Another point is the way their faces are shaped; still edged but with a lot more confidence in their eyes. I look into white faces with brown eyes, guessing that people here mixed a lot more with European settlers than in the Andean nations. German names of hotels and streets or restaurants make me feel closer to my home, strangely, to a home that probably would have not existed in the times these names were introduced.
Lastly the way they act makes me feel more confident with them. The little everyday lies from other countries up north that many travelers have come about are almost completely gone. They are also hard working and fighting for their income, but if someone does not know, he would tell you straight away. I have to admit that I missed that and it makes my life as a traveler a lot easier and my stay in Asunción much more enjoyable. It is a good feeling to feel closer to the people here.
However, a local told me a couple of obscure stories reviving a different Paraguay as of today.
In the 60’s or 70’s a farmer discovered that somebody in the neighborhood would steal his carrots from his fields. So he sat down on a rock one day to observe what was going on. A young woman came by and the farmer busted her while she was stealing the next bunch of carrots.
He took her to his house and shouted to the desperate woman “get off your clothes” and began to violate her. Afterwards he told her that if she would steal again he would rape her again with his friend. She never came back and never said a word.
So trust, probably, especially in the rural areas of the country, was built on the backs of farmers that fight for sheer preservation of life sources on their fields. Children have been raised with strict ruling and hierarchy. So was it prohibited to speak during adult conversations and necessary to call the father “Señor”.
The generation before that fought in the war 1932-1935 against Bolivia over control of the Chaco which had rich oil resources. Many troopers literally fought with their steel water cup when they were out of ammunition. Many came back deaf but still became farmers and made their living on the fields. This tumbler attitude slowly vanishes nowadays.
The once so isolated Paraguay opens his doors for visitors. Tourism is set to bring new economic advancement into one of the least known countries of South America that has so much to give and to tell to everybody that pays attention.
Spring is arriving but still brings cold nights, mild days and chilly wind from Patagonia.Jesuit Ruins near Encarnacion