Asuncion and road trip through the countryside … [Paraguay]

I hardly saw any tourists while I was in Paraguay … I guess it is safe to say that Paraguay is not one of the prime tourist destinations in the World. I am curious about every single Country in the World and hope to visit every single one of them. So, for me, Paraguay was a very interesting experience.

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The flight from Buenos Aires landed in Asuncion at around 23:40. By the time I finished with Visa-On-Arrival, Immigration, Baggage-Claim, Currency-Exchange Etc. and got a taxi (Bus services stop at around 22:00), it was 00:45. The taxi driver was a lady! The airport was very small and only a handful of staff and passengers were there. By the time I came out of the airport, I was pretty much the lone passenger around, I think. Though my safety-radar was up (Midnight, secluded streets, new and unfamiliar country, poor in Spanish Etc.), the ride was smooth and safe …
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A nice wall-hanging … A bit too heavy for me to buy and carry with me for the next month 😦
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A political rally in Asuncion … Hung around a bit to observe the chanting and the passion … Paraguay also has a few dominant parties, like in USA.
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Park Plaza de la Democracia …
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A line of taxis … Looks like the taxi I took from the Airport was an unofficial one. That one was a regular car …
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Panteón Nacional de los Héroes y Oratorio de la Virgen de Asunción …. That is a mouthful, is it not? 🙂 This is all I could see of it, as it is under renovation.
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I had randomly entered some buildings … This is what I found in one. Maybe they are adamant to keep “history” intact 😉
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One of the many colonial-age buildings in Asuncion … Keep in mind, this city has been around since 1537.
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Casa de la Independencia … This elder gentleman (God bless him) tried to explain some fundas to me … Alas, in Spanish! I did not have the heart to let him know that I understood squat. So I kept nodding like my neck was running on a motor … This building is considered to have played a major role in the Independence of this Country.
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A “huge” canon at Casa de la Independencia … 🙂 Used to shoot down birds?
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One of the bedrooms in Casa de la Independencia …
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The courtyard looked nice …
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Police, Police Stations Etc. were everywhere … I felt as if I was roaming the streets of a Military-ruled Kingdom …
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Cathedral Metropolitana … No one was around. Am I the only tourist in Paraguay?
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As I said, Police was everywhere ….Good for me, I guess.
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Inside Cathedral Metropolitana … For such an old city, the Cathedral is disappointing … Very minimalistic interiors.
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An urban slum … Right in front of Cathedral Metropolitana … Man, people have it rough here.
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Yet another slum, this near the Palacio de los Lopez … It does not even look stable/permanent …
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Palacio de los Lopez … Serves as workplace for the President of Paraguay, and is also the seat of the government of Paraguay. It is located near the center of Asunción, looking at the bay. this building was built by order of Carlos Antonio López (Former President of Paraguay) to serve as residence for his son, the General Francisco Solano López.
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Terere (Good ol’ Yerba Mate from Argentina/Uruguay) is very popular here. Mate leaves are put in a cured-pumpkin bowl and mixed with ice-cold water and drank through a filtering pipe … People carry it around!
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A local bus … Routes are confusing and there are no official bus stops. Buses can stop anywhere and many not stop fully also …
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Another vintage building …
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Safely carrying Cash ….
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After a few days of zero spice, I had to have Asian heat 🙂 Found this Chinese restaurant. As you can see, it was bustling … 🙂 What the heck, I got some extra spicy Fried Rice and Chicken/Beef dishes …. Hmmm…
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Local beer … Had it with the Chinese food 🙂
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Asuncion does have cool graffiti … Like this one.
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Another vintage building …
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Paraguayan lace … Very popular and one of the prime souvenirs tourists buy here. Wanted to buy all, but somehow limited myself to 7.
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Near the Paraguay River … Clearly, this port has seen better days.
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Small ferry boats … I noticed locals getting in to cross the Paraguay River.
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The promenade, along Paraguay River … If the weather was better, I would have loved to jog along this …
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Beautiful graffiti … Asuncion, Paraguay.
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Palacio de los Lopez … At night. Ventured out in the night (Was a bit nervous as streets were quite dark and all kinds of people were loitering in the shades) … Had read about the Palace getting extravagant lighting … True. The guards were a bit suspicious (“Who is this dude? What is he carrying with him?”), but once I explained my intentions, they were cool.
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Phone companies, there are 3 main ones here, advertise data plans with “WhatsApp” 🙂 Apparently WA makes Paraguay function.
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Fruit vendor … At Asuncion, Paraguay.
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Smuggled goods, like oil, beauty products Etc. (From Argentina, for E.g.) … They are apparently cheaper than the local ones.
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There are many Petrol companies in operation … Apparently this one is owned by the President.
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At intersections in Asuncion, guys come and was car windows … Alban told multiple times “No” … To no avail.
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Toll station … During the road-trip.
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Alban, my guide for the day. Alban is originally from Germany (!!). After serving his mandated time in German Military, Alban got hooked to South America when he stayed for 3 years in Venezuela. He later decided to settle in Paraguay and picked Tourism as his line of work. Over the past 11 years he has been living in Asuncion, met his Paraguayan wife at the Hotel were they both worked and now has a 4yr old daughter. Over the years Alban learned a lot about Paraguay and he speaks Spanish like a pro and also his mannerisms are all South American now 🙂 You should have seen him abuse other drivers when they drove rashly … Alban spoke excellent English and was very knowledgeable in World Politics, Geography, Sports, Paraguay Etc. We discussed and “solved” a lot of the World problems like Poverty🙂, discussed the legacy of Dirk Nowitzki, Paraguay Football Team and how they narrowly missed Russia WC 2018 Etc.
I was, as usual, the only tourist today. So Alban came and picked me up from the hotel and dropped me off at the end of the day. He helped me cover Yaguaron, Pirayu, Paraguari, San Bernadino, Caacupe, Atyra, Ypacarai Lake, Marienela Etc.

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Yaguaron Church … Looks quite simple from outside.
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Interior of the Yaguaron Franciscan Church … Very ornate and renowned in this part of the World.
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Inside the Yaguaron Church … It is a Franciscan Church (Traces origin to Francis of Assisi). Built in late 1700s, it is 48km from Asuncion. Notice the faces of the indigenous people …
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Bell Tower … At Yaguaron Church. It also served as a watch-tower. There were always fights with the indigenous people …
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The Church in Paraguari … At one time Catholics were so dominant that one needed to be a Catholic to become President. Because of a law protecting the indigenous people, slaves were brought over from Africa to work on Churches, for E.g.
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Benches … In case one would like to take a break and enjoy the view.
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View of the countryside … From the Paraguari hill. It was quite chilly and my fingers were freezing …
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View of the countryside … From the Paraguari hill. It was quite chilly and my fingers were freezing …
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View of Paraguari town …
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Santuario del cerro pero Paraguari …. The viewpoint in the town of Paraguari. Cross and Christianity is prevalent in Paraguay. For a brief period, Paraguari was even the capital of Paraguay.
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The white stripes indicate that an intersection is coming up … Basically, “Be Careful” warning.
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Beautiful Lapacho tree … The national tree of Paraguay. There are forests filled with Lapacho. Imagine them in full bloom.
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A scooter/rickshaw … Paraguayan style 🙂
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The highways, though not multi-lane or anything, was pretty fine …
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An unpaved road … Pirayu, Paraguay.
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Around 80% of Paraguayan roads are not paved it seems …
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The vendor from whom I bought the Chipa and Sopa Paraguaya …
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A former train station in Pirayu … Nowadays it is used as a storage.
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The same Pirayu bus, from the front … If one does not have a car, which most Paraguayans do not, the commute is through buses like these. There is no train or subway system in Paraguay.
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A hip inter-town bus … This one was to the town of Pirayu …
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Sopa Paraguaya … The one without meat … I could taste the lard… Not much of a “fat” person … Hence not my favorite.. Legend has it that a former President asked the cook to make a soup and she ended up using a bit too much corn. The soup became hard …
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Sopa Paraguaya … The version with meat filling. Thick cornbread made with egg, milk Etc. and also Pork lard 🙂 Fine snack and very healthy 🙂 I did not eat the whole thing ….
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Elephant grass … Useful for farmers rearing cattle …
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The coconut … Tiny in size.
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The nuts from these coconut trees are small. If you crack one open, you get this. Tastes like the Asian coconut, but tiny …
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Coconut trees … Local version. Their presence is a good indication that the soil is not the most fertile.
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Caacupe Basilica, Paraguay.
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The mat at the entrance of the Basilica …
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Inside Caacupe Basilica … At Caacupe, Paraguay. At this time of the year, the Basilica is not very crowded … Nov-Jan, that is the peak season.
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Inside Caacupe Basilica … At Caacupe, Paraguay.
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Inside Caacupe Basilica … At Caacupe, Paraguay.
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Roque González y de Santa Cruz … He was one of the 1st Missionaries in this part of the World. Legend has it that the locals took his heart out and shot an arrow through it … You can note the heart with the arrow.
At Caacupe Basilica …
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Paraguay flag in full display … Inside Caacupe Basilica.
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One of the intricate doors of Caacupe Basilica. Caacupe is the prime Christian Pilgrimage site in Paraguay. In December, over 1.5 Million people visit the Shrine.
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Chipa … Another Paraguayan specialty. Once again, the lard made me not like it very much.
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Bricks used in a pattern … At Marienela. The complex has its own Organic garden and houses its own livestock. When events happen, the food is all fresh and locally sourced.
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Flooring at Marienela …
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Another view of Marienela …
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A picture depicting the Indigenous people playing something akin to Football/Soccer …
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Felice Arlon … The Italian behind Marienela complex.
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The ceiling … At Marienela.
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The flooring at Marienela … Felice Arlon, the old Italian immigrant, wanted to help the local community. He made Marienela complex, which is nowadays used for conventions and events.
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Church … Near Marienela.
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Brick manufacturing … Brick Kiln. Near Marienela.
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Church … At Altos village. There was some Children’s event going on. We stood around amd watched for a bit.
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An awesome Lapacho tree … The national tree of Paraguay.
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A Church in San Bernadino … As it has been happening to me the past few days, it was cloudy and chilly.
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Alban tackling steep and unpaved roads in San Bernadino.
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Another home … As you can see, tarred roads are a rarity in countryside Paraguay.
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A school … San Bernadino, Paraguay.
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A nice vacation home … At San Bernadino, on the banks of Ypacarai Lake. San Bernadino is filled with weekend and vacation homes …
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The streets in San Bernadino …. Quiet, with most houses being weekend/vacation homes …
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At the banks of Ypacarai Lake … Souvenir shops. Business was not great for them …
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The colorful pier … It was quite cold and windy. Could not stay on the pier for long.
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Ypacarai Lake. The colorful pier … It was quite cold and windy. Could not stay on the pier for long.
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Boats are available … Not used much in this weather, I would think.
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This Hotel was built during good times … Then the recession in late 1990s resulted in its closure. Apparently now it is a ghost-house …
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A Church in San Bernadino ….
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The Church at Aragua …
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Aragua is famous for ceramics … But “questionable ceramics”, as Alban put it … 🙂
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An interesting building (Like an “S”) in Asuncion …
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The suburbs of Asuncion, especially this area where the President stays is nothing like the city center … This area is like the suburbs in any city of USA.
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Dessert menu at Bolsi, the famous Paraguayan restaurant in Asuncion. Unfortunately, the Orange Cake I wanted to try was not available.
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Fish soup … Unlike Chipa and Sopa Paraguaya, this I liked. It was thick and fresh and yummy … Of course, some local beer to go with it 🙂
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I thought the yellow shot glass was some drink 🙂 It was lime!
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Bolsi restaurant … If ever you are in Asuncion, I recommend, if you want to try something local.
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Hey … The political rally I watched … Did not see myself on TV though …
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Silvio Pettirossi International Airport … (ASU) World’s busiest airport … Just kidding 🙂

 

 

 

Adios!

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