Friday, May 20, 2011


Tapiabiru is an old Guarani expression that translates as the search for the land without evil. Every men should once in his life attempt a pilgrimage to find –within himself- this revelation. As we set to hitch-hike across Paraguay we wonder if we are not ourselves trusting to find this tranquillity and kindness in present day Paraguay. In the picture, one of the two ambulances that gave us a ride in a single week!

Paraguay is a country full of contrasts. Horse drawn karts and Mercedes are frequently spotted side by side.

Fancy some chipa?


And if a turtle is not enough for you, then stop a Beetle! We got this unique ride in a VW Beetle owned by Graciela, a 50 year old lady, student of Politic Science and hard rocker! For the way the engine trembled we thought of the car as a Herbie with Parkinson, while Graciela preferred to say her car was a special version featuring vibrator!


We ended the Hjek staying with Alberto and Hilda, owners of a despensa (shop). We also asked them were to camp. And nobody in Paraguay is mean enough to let you on your own!! Drinking tereré, watching butterflies flying by and learning Guarani from their 8 year old boy…. Those are the moment when you feel traversed by a culture, as the combined warmth of people and climate hits your chest as the bass of a drum.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011


It was fun to arrive by boat to Asunción harbour and get our passports stamped while the guy on the radio was translating Hotel California to guaraní. Welcome to Paraguay, the next country on our round the world trip. Photo: the Cabildo festooned with flags commemorating the bicentenary of Paraguay.

Víctor and his family were our hosts in Asunción. They somehow introduced us to that slow paced culture of sipping tereré, drinking guaraná sodas and eating Paraguayan soup and chipa.

In front of what used to be South America’s first passenger train station folks play board games. People have large 2 liters tererè flasks conveniently at hand.

And what about the local flashy fashion for women-under-the-sun?

The Casa de Gobierno desgined by Alan Taylor was inspired in Versailles. It was meant to be the presidential palace for Mariscal Fransisco Solano López, but he never made it to live there due to the Triple Alliance War (1864-70) when Paraguay was defeated by the joined armies of Brasil, Argentina and Uruguay.

After Asunción we visited nearby Yaguarón. In the picture, San Buenaventura church dates back to 1755. It was built in baroque-guaraní style. This is evident when you spot the angels sculpted with aboriginal factions…

At Sapucai we strolled around what used to be Paraguay’s largest train workshops. Old rusty steam locomotives stay still. When these units were retired from service in 1999 they were still running on wood-burning steam engines. Paraguay was the South American pioneer country in railways. By 1860s the country had developed their own railways, telegraphs and shipyards, and as enounced by Richard Burton who visited at the time “looked down at Buenos Aires as a semi-barbaric Indian power”

All these prosperity ended when England undercover diplomacy dragged Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay into war against proud armed to teeth Paraguay. Nine out of ten Paraguayan men died in the war, leaving behind a slaughtered, bankrupted and doomed to misery country. On the picture old ships from the Triple Alliance war.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011


Lecturing in "Escuela Superior de Comercio nº46" in Santa Fe, in a rather rainy day. We honestly expected the boys to be bothered by our presence, since the absence of one of their teachers meant they could have gone home earlier, but everything went smooth and they became interested as soon as they noticed our subject was travelling, not chemistry!

As nomadic bees we followed Parana river upstream to reach Formosa, where we showed our pictures and told our story in the Escuela nº2, a tidy public school.

Learn here how to support our round the world hitch-hiking jouney aimed at education and literature!