May 15, 2010

Asuncion



Asuncion is another post apocalyptic South American city.  It is evident that at one time there was a lot more prosperity here than there seems to be now.  The town is dominated by tall buildings that I am guessing were built in the 1970's that now look worse for wear.  I am seeing a lot of homeless children sleeping in the streets.  I also see the most expensive cars I have seen in South America, lots of new Mercedes and the latest in SUVs. 

According to wikipedia, Paraguay has a developing economy, but that to me, is a very misleading statement.  Asuncion, like most other large South American cities will be celebrating its 500th birthday in about 27 years.  The land is more populated than either the US or Canada, and in many ways more civilized.  Asuncion and the other large cities in South America are more over developed than underdeveloped.  There is a lesson here, but I am not sure what it is, but I can't help but feeling that we Norte Americanos are travelling down a road that the South Americans took many years before we did.

I am here to find a way across the Paraguay River to Argentina. There is no bridge.  It turns out I will have to go out of town a bit.  I can find very little information on Paraguay useful to me from my usual sources. 

The rivers in South America are still important to transportation.  Paraguay may be landlocked but it does have ports.  The boat in the next picture appears to be loading up with bottled water among other things.
The port area of Asuncion is quite busy, there are large and busy customs and immigration offices it looks a lot like a highway border crossing.

Paraguay has two official languages, Spanish and Guarani, more people speak Guarani than Spanish.  The population is pretty much all mestizo (mixed Indigena and Spanish).  Fortunately my bad Spanish seems to work here.

There are also a number of Mennonites, who are supposed to be fairly wealthy.  Apparently the Mennonites own the big farms.  The towns that I have passed through all have big agro equipment dealers, feed mills, seed plants and agro-chemical dealers.  Farming is big and the farms are big, it is like the North American plains, but with a 12 month growing season.

It  is Paraguayan independence day (May 15), a national holiday, fireworks have been going off all night.  They are gearing up for their 200th anniversary of independence from Spain.


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