Sights in Paraguay Vol 2 – Asunción

The capital of Paraguay is one of the oldest in South America, founded in 1537. Not much remains these days of early Spanish conquistadors time. Today, it is a city where rich and poor live side by side and the culture of Western style shopping malls is growing. The city does have few interesting spots to discover but first a word about timetables. The places have the most strange opening hours. While many restaurants don’t open for dinner before 7 pm in our hotel in Encarnación the dinner time was between 3-8 pm. As you can gather there is clearly not much consistency there. Many establishments have closures during the day anytime between 12-3pm and information about opening hours is not easily found. Why oh why don’t they just display them at the door?

Museo del Barro

This little gem of a museum is definitely worth a visit (strange opening times too, closed Mondays and Tuesdays but at least info on their website). The have a lot of contemporary and ceramic art from the region. We were surprised by the amount of erotic art in otherwise pretty Catholic country. Also, the women seem to have pretty classical style, round bodies. No body image issues in Paraguay – whoop whoop.

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Cemeteria del Recoleta

Graveyard like no other. This place left us with the mouth open. We read that the rich competed with each other in how their loved ones were to be remember a.k.a who has the most money. The result is that dead have memorial houses way more “grand” than the living ones. It did feel pretty obscene given that just few streets down people still alive live in shacks. Look at those pictures – can you believe these are tombstones of the death?

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City centre

A bit mixed feelings here. It has few historical places like Museo del Ferrocarril (the first train station), the National Palace and Pantheon of Heroes definitely worth checking out. See the pictures. However, it also has the main slum areas with some pretty dodgy looking characters wondering around. Also, on weekends it is almost deserted of people so go on a weekday.

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You may notice the two flags on the presidential palace above – the Paraguayan and the Taiwanese. This is because Taiwan’s president visited Asunción around the same time as us. It’s an interesting curiosity that Paraguay is one of the few countries worldwide, and the only one in South America, to recognise the Republic of China (i.e., Taiwan) and not the People’s Republic. Indeed, already as we made our way out of Ciudad del Este we saw a large area surrounded by Taiwanese flags – possibly a factory of some sort. Fun fact: Paraguay and Taiwan are exactly on opposite sides of the globe!

Costanera

This river promenade is pleasant and has sandy area where one can do water sports or fishing, or just sit on a beach and enjoy ice-cream. Swimming is not allowed though which was a little sad. We could imagine that in local summer it would be full of people.

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Botanical gardens

We went to this green oasis twice. Its main attraction are huge trees that we spend long time admiring. Also, the locals come here for long walks and runs. We also saw several school scouts in traditional outfits carrying around something best described as wooden sword. Sadly we didn’t have enough language skills to ask about the purpose of this object nor we dared to take photos of them. There are also some interesting sculptures.

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