Life of a cowboy and a youth in jail in paraguay

Trip Start Dec 07, 2005
Trip End Apr 10, 2007

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Sunday, April 9, 2006

yes, we went to a ranch while we were in concepcion. we went with helen and justo, who are great people to travel with--they are always looking for an adventure and to soak up the essence of a place. in fact, i don´t think we would have found out about the opportunity to go to the ranch if we hadn´t been tagging along with helen and justo around concepcion during our first full day there. and if we hadn´t gone to the ranch, we never would have seen a cow slaughtered and butchered right in front us, watched the ranch hands vacccinate 600 head of cattle, or met some of the ranch workers who told us that they make about $4 a day and go home once every 22 days. not an easy life.

we were really fortunate to meet some of the peace corps volunteers who are stationed there. a couple of days after we arrived, daniela called kate (whose contact info we had gotten through anna in asuncion) and she was enthusiastic to meet with us that day. we also met martin, who began his term of service not too long ago. they were all really welcoming to us and, just like their colleauges in asuncion, answered the multitude of questions we had. the initial meeting took place at polleria ¨el bigote¨, a place that held a special place in our hearts (and our stomachs) during our stay. a polleria is a restaurant that sells chicken, and ¨el bigote¨ means ¨the mustache¨. there are two pollerias serving wood roasted chicken in concepcion for about $1 for a 1/4 chicken. we frequented el bigote, but never went to the bulldog.

anyway, kate was generous enough to introduce us to the director of the centro educativo, which is the youth detention facility (or jail) in concepcion. she told us that the place was really progressive and that they were serious about rehabilitation, so we were eager to meet the youth and staff. the director was a laid back fellow, and we proposed a drawing class and exchange between the youth at the centro and the muzine and hidden t.r.e.w.t.h. back home. he readily agreed, although he encouraged us to do some sort of programming to warn them about the dangers of drugs. we just worked on basic drawing techniques with them, though, and each morning when we saw the director he seemed happy with what we were doing.

so we spent a couple of hours at the centro for four days, drawing with the boys. at first we were nervous, because when we sat down to propose the exchange project to the boys and ask them what sorts of things they were interested in, we just got a lot of blank stare. we figured out that this was partially due to a language barrier--most of the time the boys (they call them ´internos´) spoke to each other in guarani and did not have much confidence in their spanish. but once we decided to just go out and get materials, the youth jumped right in and began drawing.

the guards were really helpful as well, and assisted in translation. a couple of the guards also sat down and worked with the kids, even drawing right along side them. at the end of our week, we left them a new thermos for cold water (for their cold mate) and some art supplies. they left us their drawings, which we´ve sent to the Broad Street Press to be published in upcoming issues of the Hidden T.R.E.W.T.H. and maybe the Muzine, two youth-centric publications from Providence, RI. For the Hidden T.R.E.W.T.H., it will be the second time publishing work from young people incarcerated in South America.

We also met some nice people who lived in concepcion while we were there. Martin and Kate were key connections for this. We met Liz, a local who manages a pizza joint in Concepcion and also steps in as an englsih teacher, through our Peace Corps friends. Martin also had us over to his place for dinner one night (for a scrumptious veggie quiche and cornbread--or ´chipas americanas´ as martin called it) and we met his roommate Vivi and her aunt. we had a really well-rounded experience in concepcion, which seemed like a really unlikely place to have such a fulfilling experience. martin also offered to deliver copies of the HIdden T.R.E.W.T.H. and Muzine to the new Peace Corps volunteer who´ll be working at the centro educativo if we mail them to him. You can check out the latest issues of Muzine and Hidden T.R.E.W.T.H. at the youth work form concepcion should be there in a couple of months.

Finally, we met a nun by the name of Sister Angela through Helen and Justo. they met her and found out that she knew Justo´s uncle, who is a missionary in Asuncion. After we watched the town´s good friday procession (comprised of churchgoers marching out a mannequin of Jesus and hang it on a cross in the plaza), Helen and Justo introduced us to Sister Angela who took us all out to see the bridge we had gone under in the Cacique II and invited us to her house for lunch. She was a super-generous hostess, and it was nice to be eating so many home cooked meals (Justo is a chef and cooked up a huge omelete and we made a big salad). we had lunch at Sr. Angela´s house the next day as well, and spent both afternoons summarizing some old testament passages for Justo (who was always interviewing people with his videocamera) and listening to her critiques of the church. good spanish practice and refreshing to hear someone so intimately associated with the church thinking outside the (offering) box.
We stayed at Hotel Center on Pte. Franco con Yegros tel. (031)42-584 for a double room, private bath and a TV its was 35,000 guarani about US$6
If you want to go to a ranch and see the paraguay cowboy life contact Luis Enrique on his cell 0971-801805 its his families ranch and they can take you out of a couple of days. They charge about US$14 a person, or less, per day with food and lodging included.

If you would like to see pictures of the Cacique II, the most struggling still afloat boat i´ve seen, the cows, the youth, or read more about our trip, you can check out one of the pages below.

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this page has slideshows and more detailed blogs of our trip

This is THE PICTURE BOOK version of our trip
If you want to look at pictures of our trip go to the site and click on the pictures.
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