Trip Start Jul 02, 2009
Trip End Jun 28, 2010

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Flag of Paraguay  ,
Monday, July 20, 2009

The bus from Pedro Juan Caballero took nine hours to get to Asunción and thankfully the vile cough sweets did their job.  Paraguayan bus companies appear to allow children to share a parent's seat even when long past the toddler stage and the lady next to me kept her eight-year-old wedged between her and the seat in front for the duration of the journey.  Neither seemed unduly discomforted.

Asunción is actually one of the oldest cities in South America and has a run down feel.  I wasn't feeling great on arrival and after a quick reconnaissance patrol retreated to the internet for an unsuccessful attempt to find out exactly where Somoza had his meeting with destiny (in the form of an RPG).  Paraguay would be the first country on this trip that I'd attempt to explore without a guidebook and some googling also made me aware of Klassen Tours.  I even managed to whip up a post on compound library design for fragment screening and it is possible that this is the first time that this has been done in Asunción.

Paraguay has a long standing tradition of picking fights with its neighbours and consequently has plenty of dead heroes who are commemorated in the Pantheon.  The War of the Triple Alliance (against Brasil, Argentina and Uruguay) was particularly traumatic and it has been estimated that it led the deaths of about 90% of the male population of Paraguay. 


Another long standing tradition in Paraguay is Dictatorship so it seems fitting that Asunción has its own presidential palace.  Curiously the soldiers who guard the back of the presidential palace stand looking towards it rather than facing in the direction from where one might expect the danger to come.  The pride of the Paraguayan navy is moored on the river nearby and appears to have been in this state for some time.   An ocean going warship guarding the presidential palace of a poor, landlocked country seemed symbolic of Paraguay's ills.  Nevertheless I resisted the urge to capture its image for posterity and waited for the sunset.  I was pleased with the results.


The last Caudillo of Paraguay was the improbably named Alfredo Stroessner who was a bit of a hard ass although probably less greedy that many of his ilk.  In particular he was a fervent anti-communist and I would find evidence of this on one of my patrols in the form of a statue of Chiang Kai-shek.  I'm not sure that they even have statues of him in Taiwan.


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Cat on

Chiang Kai Shek in Paraguay? I keep learning new things just by reading through your travels. Thanks!

peter.kenny on

You're not the only person to have learned new things about Chiang Kai Shek and I certainly wasn't looking for him when I found him. Quite bizarre.

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