February 23, 2012
The VieW from our V W
Here are the long-awaited, promised pictures from our recent vision trip to the cities of Encarnacion and Pilar. First, the view from Encarnacion over to Formosa, Argentina. Encarnacion is a border town connected to Formosa by a bridge. As we were there, the winds picked up, the temperature dropped (YAY!), and the Parana River showed us her whitecaps. In the last year, Encarnacion built this lovely road alongside the river, and they added beaches and parks.
We've been in a drought here, and this picture shows what the wind did in the areas where construction is taking place. The red cloud of dust was swirling all over the city.
Every weekend in February, Encarnacion hosts Carnaval (similar to Mardi Gras in New Orleans). We came on a weekday but drove past where the parade takes place, right along the river. During Carnaval, these floats are filled with basically naked women in elaborate headdresses, dancing and waving as they parade through the crowds of people who have come from all over South America and beyond to see them. One of these women wins the honor of being the Queen of Carnaval.
We got in touch with Maria, who spent a few weeks as our next-door neighbor when she visited Hogar Ganar with her YWAM team. She met us at the beach to hang out a bit, give us a tour, and answer our questions about Encarnacion's youth, churches, and ministries.
The next morning, we headed out to Pilar. Once we turn off the main highway, it's a bit over 100 kilometers of straight asphalt road with swamp on both sides. The girls got a bit restless in the car. We're still waiting for the bus that hit our car a few weeks ago to make good on the repairs, so we're flitting about without a/c until then. This day was over 100* easily.
The two exciting spots were 1.) stopping to help a man who'd run over two pigs, successfully destroying the front of his little car, and 2.) seeing this beautiful pink water bird in the middle of all the white ones we'd been passing. He's a roseate spoonbill and the borders of his wings were deep fuchsia. He spooked easily, but Ken managed to get a photo of him before he headed to safer ground. I know, I know, he's far off, but squint and you can find him. By the way, Paraguay is famous for her birds, and birdwatchers come from all over the world to check out the rare species. This one doesn't happen to be rare, but we were impressed with it anyway.
We finally arrived in Pilar, which seemed so odd to find in the middle of nowhere. It's a lovely, quiet town with several universities and factories, where many of the residents ride bicycles.
This man flagged us down as we drove through his neighborhood. Beards are a rare sight in Paraguay, and he and his buddies wanted to see Ken's up close. The man decided that he and Ken were from the same "tribe," but Ken conceded that based on the length of his beard, this man must be the chief!
Paraguayans are so friendly. After we snapped a picture, they insisted that we sit around a few minutes, long enough to eat some of their barbeque. This happened to be carpincho, which is the name here for the largest rodent in the world, the capybara. It was a bit wild and greasy for my flavor, but we all smiled, complimented the chef, and thanked them for sharing.
The next morning, we wanted to take the ferry over the Paraguay River, but--wouldn't you know it?--it rained, for the first time in many weeks. The opposite side is dirt roads for about 40 km that are impassable in rain, so the ferry wasn't running. But we sure needed the rain, and the drop in temperature sure made the ride back much more tolerable. Not to mention, we were treated to this lovely rainbow. :) Aren't Paraguay and her people just beautiful?