The Chaco

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

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Flag of Paraguay  ,
Monday, July 27, 2009

I got back to Asunción and got the message that I'd been hoping for.  Alban from Klassen Tours had called to say that the Chaco tour would be going ahead.  This was not one of the regular tours but actually the reconnaissance for a new tour that they were planning to set up.  After a quick trip out  to pick up a cheap sleeping bag and a couple of other items I returned to my lodgings to be  collected by Alban at mid-day.  We headed for Filadelfia where we would overnight and meet Sabine, Thomas and Bonito (their dog).  Filadelfia was founded by Mennonites which goes some way to explaining why it has an Avenida Hindenburg, presumably named for the General (and later President of Germany) rather than the zeppelin that gave hydrogen gas such poor reputation back in 1937.

We left Filadelfia the following morning  and very soon we were off paved road as well.  There is not a lot of water in the Chaco at this time of the year so it was a dusty ride.  We headed for Cerro Leon near which we would camp for the first night.



Something I never knew before taking a nocturnal walk near our camp was that spiders' eyes reflect light (if you don't like spiders then the Chaco may not be for you).  Then it was back for dinner (asado) and it was just as well that vegetarians were not present. 


After breakfast a short walk took us to a point from where there were good views. Then it was back on the road and shortly after setting out we encountered a vehicle that really had to be photographed.  It was owned by a German couple and I'm quite sure that the toilet had an 'observation deck' as is the case for all toilets in Germany. 

We camped beside the road on the second night and a couple of the sunset pics came out well. 


The original plan for day three was to head for Garay (army base) and visit the Bolivian cemetery nearby before returning to Filadlefia via Nueva Asunción (another army base).  I was woken by a moist kiss (Bonito) and after a suitably fibre-free breakfast we were back on the road.




General Sherman declared that, "War is hell" and he did his best to make it that way (especially for the good burghers of Atlanta).  The Chaco war was not much fun for any of the participants but must have been especially hellish for the Bolivians, many of whom were natives of the Altiplano.  The Bolivians were commanded by General Kundt (yes, he was German) whose favored tactic was frontal assault.  These days they'd have put him in charge of a large bank and paid him an obscene bonus.  There is a cemetery for Bolivian soldiers close to Garay just inside Paraguayan territory.  One the way there I found a spider's nest and photographed it for any arachnophobes who might be reading this. 



Not long after vsiting the cemetery we made our first unscheduled stop of the day.  As I picked up the shovel, I noticed a couple of vultures circling overhead.  Fortunately help (a more powerful pickup with a winch) was on its way.  We then re-grouped at an estancia owned by friends of the the Stroessners.

We arrived at Nueva Asunción, last of the army checkpoints, later than planned which meant another night camping because the 'paved' part of the road back to Filadelfia is not so good at night.  We were back in Filadelfia for breakfast and then it was the long run back to Asunción.




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