Saturday, August 21, 2010

RIO PARAGUAY & THE PANTANAL

On Monday the 9th of August, Tim, Shola and I took a night bus from Asuncion to Concepcion to take a boat heading to Bahia Negra, the Northern tip of Paraguay. The previous Friday we swore out as Peace Corps Volunteers and became unemployed. That weekend goodbyes were said, hammocks were sent home and heavy drinking was had. Sunday gave us time to continue the bag purging process, eat our last empanadas and have a last look at Asuncion.

Matias and I watching Dora the Explorer during my last visit to Tacuati.

The Aquidaban

For 80 bucks we rented a small cabin for the three nights it would take to reach Bahia Negra. The boat was cosy and gave us just enough room to jam all our huge bags inside. We got lucky and took the cabin of a family that never showed up. If that family had shown up we would have camped out in the hallways, aggressively trying to claim floor and/or hammock space. My body alone requires the space sufficient for a small Paraguayan family.

This thing was packed with cargo.


Paraguayan concrete!

The Aquidaban supplies Alto Paraguay with a large quantity of its produce and supplies. The boat is lively and constantly moving with people who are coming and going, loading and unloading crates of fruit, vegetables, flour, rice, milk, eggs, yogurt, bread, beer, coke, concrete, motorcycles, gasoline, baskets, cooking oil, furniture and animals. Most of the Paraguayans wanted to know what the hell we were doing and where we were heading off to work. We shared terere and talked about our time as volunteers. When I wasn't feeling lazy I helped unload heavy objects. It was my last chance to use the 13 words of Guarani I picked up during the last two years. It was a nice, slow departure from Paraguay.

Tim trying to get organized in our room.

One of the several ports we stopped at to load and unload cargo. In this particular town the people are Chamacoco or Ishiro, not Guarani. The Chamacocos we talked to spoke Chamacoco, Guarani, Spanish and Portuguese.
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I watched an 80 year old women carry sacks of iron rock up and down these planks.

The first or last town along the Rio Paraguay in Paraguay, depending on where you are coming from. Gotta jump to that.

Me, Bob (PCV), Rob, Michelle (PCV), Aurelio, Andreas, Tim

Bird watching at the Biological Station Los Tres Gigantes. I'd say I saw about 50 toucans.

Stuck in weeds in the Pantanal

Our guide Don Aliche and Shola. We took this boat from Bahia Negra to Puerto Bosch, Bolivia. During the three hour boat ride we saw birds, carpinchos, caimans, storks, toucans and a even a few monkeys.

Giant Anteater

Somewhere in there are a @!#@ ton of Caiman, mouths open, basking in the sun.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Unemployed

I swore out as a Peace Corps Volunteer on August 6th, 2010. Time flies. Ovevete el tiempo. Joining the Peace Corps was an easy decision. The idea of helping people, traveling and picking up a second language sounded like the logical next step after college.. I was also na├»ve and didn’t understand what I was getting myself into. At times I really disliked living away from home. The other 95% of the time I loved it. Every time I swore off that nine hour hell ride from Asuncion to Tacuati I’d be leveled by fact that my Paraguayan friends had done and would be doing this for the rest of their lives. I was an extended tourist. I worked with and grew close to many Paraguayans. I feel very positive about some of the work I did. I will stay in contact with my Paraguayan friends. It was a great experience. Paraguay is a great country and it will be missed. I shall return one day.

I am no longer a Peace Corps Volunteer.orps Volunteer.