25 August 2010

encarnación, paraguay (part i)

Being a graduate student, living in a dorm and traveling are great ways to avoid real life, but I'm really excited to start real life now. Hence this crazy swirly celebratory orange new blog. I'm also streamlining, and "monchichi and the serendipity berries" sounds kind of like a rock band for kids with big vocabularies, but serendipity berries is simpler. So, back the blog roots and where it all started.

Now, back to the travels.

So, while Asunción is Paraguay's official capital, Encarnación is both the country's Carnival (read: party) capital and where its most famous historic missions are located. With a population of about 75,000, it is also the nation's eighth largest city. (Yay, random factoids.) And like Asunción, Encarnación has great sidewalks:

And thermoses everywhere:

But the main reason we went to Encarnación was because my history-buff partner had to see these missions in nearby Trinidad that were 300-500 years old, so off we went on more bus rides through the Paraguayan countryside.

The bus dropped us off at a random point on the one-lane highway, and we walked down a scenic road (they weren't big on signage) until we got to the end, which led to a small path to the first mission.

There was a small UNESCO sign that said Misión Jesuítica Guarani de La Santisima Trinidad del Parana, but otherwise, it just looked a large grass lawn with a few palm trees.

As we approached, we began to see rows of red arches.

We were the only ones there, aside from one other couple we saw maybe half an hour later, and we walked across a giant lawn to reach this red stone watchtower. We were happy to discover we could go inside and climb up to the top, and we were rewarded with great panoramic views of the grounds.

It was nice that they let us walk about freely and get as close to all the structures as we wanted, too.

Most of the detailed carvings on the walls were in really good shape, and many of the freestanding sculptures looked great, too.

It's funny to compare these with buildings in California, for example, that were built in the 1960s, and people are saying things like, "Well, that building is so old, it'll have to be torn down soon." Or when we were looking for a place to live, and people would say things like, "Well, what do you expect? This was built in 1970!" Ha!

Well, this post has gotten quite long, so I'll stop here. Hope you're having a good day, and I'll finish up with the other mission near Encarnación next time.

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