Monday, March 12, 2012

Visiting the downtown of Asuncion

The bus system was convenient, though the vehicles look like the big nose Mercedes in Hong Kong in the 50s. Better than those buses in Brazil and Buenos Aires, respectively there was no gate to make a blocking nuisance and no machine demanding coins, the bus here only had a driver receiving fares. A trip to the downtown only costs G2300 (around HKD4). We memorize any significant building passing by so that we could know when to take off when back. We took off near a school in the downtown area and were impressed by the layout of the city. It was more like a town center in which citizens’ life was close to administration. Unlike Hong Kong in which the commercial and administrative districts were centralized and isolated away from residence, living here would have the courts, offices, museums and galleries a few blocks away. 

The first place we visited was the Panteon de los Heros (at the middle of a central park, easy to find) which paid tribute to soldiers who died in many wars (some of which were unnecessary). There were several metal plates given by visiting heads of government, including the presidents of Taiwan. It was quite ironic to see that the past and the current presidents, Chen and Ma respectively, were there at the same time, while one was in jail and another was elected for one more term. In the past I have some doubt about Paraguay’s diplomatic relationship with Taiwan, for the sake of advantage given by the later. However, viewing the dictatorship of the communist China, now I was more respectful of this country playing the game between the two countries: On one hand not to be dependent on the advantage of doing business with mainland China, which keeps on bribing her to alienate Taiwan, on the other hand keeps relationship with Taiwan, which treasures any few diplomatic ties. 

Then we walked towards the river and passed the shopping street for tourists. Things sold in here were also tagged in US dollar, a little expesnve due to the proximity with tourists. We found a shop named “Hong Kong” selling mixed variety of goods but we had no interest getting in there. 

Walking on we found a pink building near the river. It was called the “Cabildo” which was the previous congress building and now a national museum. It was free of charge to visit and there was a member of staff who was so kind to take us around. He spoke some English and introduced the exhibits, including the old congress hall for meetings. On the first floor we saw the presentation about the river coast project. It looked beautiful but no one knows when it would finish. Another room showed the artifact of the first president Eusebio Ayala who was respected in the country for his defense against the Argentine’s attack. In another exhibit room we saw the exhibit about the life of Guarani aboriginal: a boat made of a complete trunk of a tree with the special name I forgot. More impressive was their costumes functional to the life in tropical forest. For example, they wore feather of “cucu” (name of a bird) on their ankles so that snakes on the ground would be scared away. There were much more to be seen, and listened, on the second floor. People who played guitar would know Mangoré, a famous guitarist who also wrote a lot of songs for classical guitar. The exhibits also included his written scores. What a treasure ! Another part of exhibit was Paraguai film. A famous film called Paraguai Hemlock won a prize in Canne and the prize was displayed here, but on the bottom shelf of a glass cabinet. Paraguay was also famous for her harp players (such as Espínola). One was ..., that made us eager to listen to a real harp performance. We had such a good time in the Calbido.

The other day we visited the town again and we went into a university “Universidad Catolica” located in an convent school next to the largest church (Iglesia Catedraw). We got all the curious look from the students wondering why we are here. Got some water and rested for a while, we then left and went to the Casa de Independencia, a small free museum showing the life in this city in the past. Then we walked to the Palacio Lopez, a beautiful white palace building by past dictator and the guardian was still very high. A guidebook said advance booking would allow visiting in there, we did not find that on internet so we skipped that. We crossed the street to Manzana de la Rivera, which was an educational art-promoting comericial complex renovated from a few block of old residential building. However, it seemed not a successful project, because there was only a small bar running, a small free museum and a small public library. Other offices supposedly for art administration or non-governmental organization were either closed or vacant. I thought of the west-kowloon “art” complex which could turn to just hardware of building with not much activities really on art development of the city.

Not aware of other sights in the suburb and outside Asuncion, we left a bit early, also missing the meeting with a couchsurfer Gerhard who was kind enough to prepare tea at his home waiting for us. However we were stuck by the rain-storm and could not find the bus to 10 km away Aregas. It was a pity we left to this comfortable capital. We shall come again also hope to meet Gerhard again.

1 comment:

  1. Wow! How wonderful, Maria. So great that you are taking the time to build these memories and experiences!


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