PARAGUAY: 29.07. - 03.08.2007
Route: Ciudad del Este, Bella Vista, Encarnacion
Distanz: 300 Km Höhenmeter: 3030m
|Preface: Although we stayed just a couple of days in
Paraguay we enjoyed our visit very much. There is nothing really special
to see in Paraguay and also the landscape in the southeast was not
really special, but the people here were extraordinary friendly! In
the beginnign we were a bit sceptic about Paraguay (our guidebook
wasn't to positive about Paraguay), but this chaged quickly,
thanks to the friendly people. We again learned, that you schould
only believe your own experience. To be on the save side we once slept
next to a police checkpoint and once at a petrol station, but this
was probably a bit overcautious. We especially enjoyed the fact that
the farmers didn't fence in everything, which gave us the feeling
of more freedom compared to Uruguay, Argentina and Chile.
Route: Ciudad del Este, Bella Vista, Encarnacion
Distance: 300 Km Ascent: 3030m
Ciudad del Este: Ciudad del Este is a heaven for everybody
who loves shoppiing (especially for consumer electronics) and for
everybody else ist's quite a nightmare! Half ot the town is a big
maizelike mess of streetstalls, small confusing shopping malls,
street vendors, money changers, ... and we fell a little bit like
being back in Asia. For taxreasons electronic goods are pretty cheap
here, and so there are busloads of tourists from Brasil and Argetnina
here to purchase one of the bargains. We arrived on Sunday evening,
and asking a policeman for an office where we could change some
money, he just calls the next street moneychanger who are around
in abundance. We don't feel really good about this and decide to
wait until Monday for the banks to open. We planned to purchase
a GPS for safer navigaion throug the mountaisn of Bolivia, but as
we've been warned that many of the electronic good are faked (they
look fine from outside, but they don't work), we decide to keep
on travelling "old style" with a compass.
|Radio Interview: We are just about to roll
into Thomas Romero Pereira, when two guys on their small motorbikes,
who appear to be reporters from a radiostation, are stopping us. Normally
the interviews here in Southamerika are are pretty short and superficial,
but this time they ask us nerarly every detail of our trip. We are
questioned for about 30 minutes until the guys are finally satisfied.
The way how they make the interviews is quite interesting, because
I heard the questions of the moderator from the radiostation via a
normal radio (plugged into my ear). While one radiostation is using
a moblieform to transmitt my answers to the radiostation the other
one is using a walky talky. Finally we hit the road again, but when
we stopped to do some shopping, the owner of a motorbike shop came
out to give us two mate cups as a prestent (hehadheardteh interview).
And even 10 Km further south people who have heard the interview stopped
us to take a photo.
|Poor huts: As quite often in poorer countires
the gap between the rich and the poor is also quite big in Paraguay.
Very seldom on our whole trip, and certainly not in Southamerica so
far, have we seen so many big luxury cars (like Mercedes)
as here in Paraguay. But on the other hand we also haven't seen for
a loong loong time this kind of poor huts which are only covered by
a piece of plastic. The people here get their water out of a whole
in the ground and the only thing we saw in abundance where children
who, unfortunately will probably haveto face the same hard life as
|Mate Trees: The Mate tea is made out of
the leafes of a tree with the botanical name Ilex Paraguayensis
. Because it's easier to harvest the trees a cut like bushes. The
first harvest is possible after 7 years. Instead of just picking the
leafes the whole branch is riped of the tree, but later, when the
leaves are dry and cut to pieces, all the big wooden parts are removed.
|Mate Transporter: A whole truck of mate
leafes on its way to the fabrik.
|Mate Pajarito: In Bella Vista we visited
a company producing Yerba Mate and we were quite surprised to learn
thad the company was owned and run by German decendends. That way
we were luky to get a tour through the company in German. Although
the Mate is not fermented it has more coffein than tea although less
than coffe. Besides the traditional powder, the Mate is nowadays also
available in teabags or even as an instant powder. Unfortunately the
Instant Mate destroys the social aspect of drinking Mate. Normally
the Mate is prepared in one cup and shared with everybody around.
We especially enjoyed very much the social aspect of drinking Mate:
everybody sits together and while the Mate is making it's round, there
is heaps of time to talk to each other. It's a time not only to share
some tea but also a time to share ones experiences and even ones sorrows.
Drinking Mate is something unusual in our busy times, but probably
the better solution than running to a Psychiater.with every small
|Sleepinga a petrol station: After
we had finished our tour through the Mate company it was already too
late to keep on cycling and so we asked at the petrol station in Bella
Vista if we cold pitch up our tent here. We got a nice spot behind
the station and while preparing our dinner the children of a nearby
bakery come to bring us some Chipa (a cheese filled bread). We had
a niece conversation with the kids and before leaving they took
a photo of us with their mobilephone. Half an hour later they returned
with more Chipas and a print out of the photo!
Jesuits in Southamerica: In 1609 the first Jesuits arrived
in Southamerica and constructed their first Missions in Brasil.
1627 they were attacked by slavehunters and so 10000 Jesuits fled
southwards with all their belongings on boats down the river Parana.
Finally the setteled down again on the Rio Parana 700 Km downstream.
Today it's possible to visit the ruins of their missions in Paraguay,
Brasil and Argerntina. The Jesuits were stricly organized and lived
from farming. They were so successfull, that they became pretty
powerfull which made them many enemies from the Spanisch Crown to
the wealthy landowners. After the Spanish had finally setteled the
dispute about the frontiers with Portugal in Southamerica, all Jesuites
were expelled from Southamerica on order of King Carlos III. 2000
were shipped to Italy, but there was no information in our guidebook
what happened to the rest! The propperty of the Jesuits was sold
in auktions and their scools were taken over from the Franziskaner
|Jesuit Mission Trinidad: We visited
the remains of a former Mission in the South of Paraguay, and although
pretty much destroyed it is still possible to recognize their former
grace. Thr Mission is now a UNESCO world heritage site, but unfortunately
nothing is done to protect the ruins. The mission was origianlly constructed
in 1706 and at least the church is now partially reconstructed. But
except for the original floor and the pulpit there is not much more
to admire. Probably some of the sorrunding villages have been constructed
with the missing stones
|Departure: We already have our departure stamp
when one of the border officals tells us, that we are not allowed
to cross the bridge to Argentina with our bicycles. The official is
pretty unfriendly (so far the only unfriendly person in Paraguay)
an adds: "If you thing you can cross the bridge, just try it!" Finally
a young man is comming for our aid and brings me to the post of the
Argentine Gendameria which is around the corner. The friendly Argentinian
official radios his collegues on the other side of the bridge and
confirms, that we are not allowed to cross the bridge on our bikes
(athough he personally believes as well that this is ridiculus).Finally
he is coming with us and stops a truck for us. We and our bikes are
loaded onto the truck, but the truckdrive must have seen too much
Formula1, because due to his agressive driving we nearly fell twice
from the truck on the first 200m, but fortunately we cross the birdge
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