Wednesday, May 04, 2011

PARAGUAY: BICENTENARY OF A WOUNDED FLOWER



It was fun to arrive by boat to Asunción harbour and get our passports stamped while the guy on the radio was translating Hotel California to guaraní. Welcome to Paraguay, the next country on our round the world trip. Photo: the Cabildo festooned with flags commemorating the bicentenary of Paraguay.



Víctor and his family were our hosts in Asunción. They somehow introduced us to that slow paced culture of sipping tereré, drinking guaraná sodas and eating Paraguayan soup and chipa.



In front of what used to be South America’s first passenger train station folks play board games. People have large 2 liters tererè flasks conveniently at hand.




And what about the local flashy fashion for women-under-the-sun?





The Casa de Gobierno desgined by Alan Taylor was inspired in Versailles. It was meant to be the presidential palace for Mariscal Fransisco Solano López, but he never made it to live there due to the Triple Alliance War (1864-70) when Paraguay was defeated by the joined armies of Brasil, Argentina and Uruguay.



After Asunción we visited nearby Yaguarón. In the picture, San Buenaventura church dates back to 1755. It was built in baroque-guaraní style. This is evident when you spot the angels sculpted with aboriginal factions…






At Sapucai we strolled around what used to be Paraguay’s largest train workshops. Old rusty steam locomotives stay still. When these units were retired from service in 1999 they were still running on wood-burning steam engines. Paraguay was the South American pioneer country in railways. By 1860s the country had developed their own railways, telegraphs and shipyards, and as enounced by Richard Burton who visited at the time “looked down at Buenos Aires as a semi-barbaric Indian power”


All these prosperity ended when England undercover diplomacy dragged Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay into war against proud armed to teeth Paraguay. Nine out of ten Paraguayan men died in the war, leaving behind a slaughtered, bankrupted and doomed to misery country. On the picture old ships from the Triple Alliance war.

2 comments:

Ümit Orhan said...

This post remembered me how much i missed Paraguay! Great post dear Juan... I was able to spend only a couple of days in Asunción but that was more than enough to fall in love with the country.
I still cant believe the "Triple Alliance War". It is the maybe the most stupid war(yes all the wars are stupid but this one seems even more) that i ve ever seen in history.
Wish you all the best on the road...
Take care
Umit
Umit

Ashley said...

Great pictures. I've been trying to get hold of your book, it looks fascinating. Good luck!