Steam Train to Aregua

Trip Start Dec 14, 2007
Trip End Nov 04, 2008

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Where I stayed
La Espaņola

Flag of Paraguay  ,
Sunday, February 17, 2008

We had read in our guide book that on Sundays there is a steam train that travels to the town of Aregua where the lake Ypacari is. Given there was little else to do in Asuncion (with everything closed on weekends) we decided to give it a try.

We were expecting more of a Disney fully tourist experience, but much to our surprised it turned out to be a fantastic one. First of all, there is little or no publicity about it, so it is mostly Paraguayans that take it (there were about 20 foreigners out of 200 or so people).

We arrived at the old train station at Asuncion where we were told that "it was too late to get on board". We told them that it was supposed to leave at 10.30am and that it was only 9.15am. The lady said "boarding starts at 9.30 am".

Had we been novice travellers (as some weeks back) in South America we would have probably accepted her word and given up. However, we had a certainty that boarding at 9.30 would mean that no one was on board until 10am....and so it turned out! We just grabbed a taxi and we arrived there at 9.45 am with about 20 minutes to buy tickets, water and join the fellow passengers.

It was also a coincidence as the train only works one Sunday every 2 weeks - just good luck.

The train is an old steam train built in 1861, with 2 carriages. Most of the staff are actors, and each Sunday they do a different show based on the 1900īs. Given it had been Saint Valentines recently, their show this time was called "The Marriage".

It was a comedy about a young Paraguayan girl (daughter of the police captain) that got pregnant. The police office was forcing the young boyfriend to get married. Some of the photographs appear on this page, and a bit of video.

It was a very enjoyable day, and the best show of active tourism we have seen up to now. The young actors really made an effort during 6 hours to keep everyone involved and entertained.

Additionally the trip was made more lively with a Paraguayan Harpist. They love the harp here (the national instrument).

The town of Aregua didnt have much itself, apart from the colonial houses and old church, and endless pottery shops with shapes of frogs.

The lake itself is so contaminanted that swimming is forbidden. The state of the rivers we passed is quite similar, so the contamination of water must be a serious problem in Paraguay. Perhaps Greenpeace could act a bit in Paraguay instead of annoying Carrefour by buying all their old lightbulbs (recent news in Argentina).
A couple of pictures more:
- Guarani money: it is all as old and torn as the one on the picture. Luckily coins are starting to appear. Most of the paper money is stuck together with cellotape, is old and dirty.
- Pilsen Beer: another "Paraguayan" classic. Its quite sweet (similar to Quilmes). That was our night cap last night, together with 2 Super Panchos (hot dogs) at the Esso Petrol Station. We tried our best to find a restaurant or take away but being Sunday it was all closed.
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