Saturday, May 17, 2014

Independence Day Weekend and Ybycui (2)

After our hike, we moseyed down the road to an iron foundry called "La Rosada." It was used to make weapons for the triple alliance war in the 1860s-and was also destroyed in the same war. Now it has a museum and you can wander around and look at stuff.


This is a common scene in the countryside. There are many cows roaming all over the place.

After all this adventure, we stopped in the small town of Ybycui to stock up on food and drinks, then went back to our hotel and did some more cooking, and leftover heating-uping. Another fun night of eating, games, and drinking led to this:

LEMONS! Now for some reason lemons are not even available in Paraguay anywhere. It's not like they don't grow. In fact, on the hotel property they actually do grow on trees. So at 1 or 2 in the morning, Kristi and I went lemon picking. I'm not sure why it was so fun and hilarious, but the beverage selections of the evening *may* have been a factor. We were so happy about our lemons!

The next morning was our last at the hotel, so we decided to take advantage of some pool time in the sun. The weather was perfect.

I need one of these for my patio. 

On the way back we took some meandering side roads. Our map didn't specify between nice, newly paved roads and muddy, rutted roads. When the former gave way to the latter, we changed our route. At any rate, it was a gorgeous day for a drive in the country.

Our last stop on the way into town was in a little town called Ita. There is a family of yacares (caiman) that just live in the lake and sometimes don't escape their fenced enclosure. WHAT? CAIMAN?!? OK I have a little bit of an alligator/crocidile phobia. But it was still kind of cool. But seriously, someone thought this was a good idea? Seriously? The little baby at the bottom totally could have gotten out under the fence and bitten someone! Anyway, hope you enjoyed this glimpse into what we do on long weekends for fun. :)

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Independence Day Weekend and Ybycui (1)

Any time there is a long weekend, there is always the buzz of "where are you going for the weekend?" and "what are your plans?" That is one of the cool things about being surrounded by a group of adventurous, traveling type- a four-day weekend spells ADVENTURE!

Originally we had talked about going camping, but the weather forecast was terrible. Instead, we found a really cute "hotel" with separate cabins/bungalows. (What is the difference anyway?) In two cars, eight of us (6 teachers and 2 visiting friends) set off for our adventure.

The first delay happened almost immediately...we were pulled over. This happens ALL THE TIME in Paraguay, and they don't have to have a reason to pull you over. You're driving along and there are check points, and they just pull over whichever cars they feel like. Normally you show your paperwork and are on your way in under a minute. However, this was the exception. We STILL don't know what happened. Apparently they didn't like that we had a cooler with an (unopened) package of beer in it-although they didn't ask for us to give it up. Maybe they thought our driver had been drinking, but they didn't ask him to take a breathalizer. Maybe they wanted a bribe, but they didn't ask for one. Maybe our skin was just too light-we'll never know. After about 45 minutes, they got sick of our mediocre Spanish and sent us on our way.

I always LOVE when you first get out of the city and the land opens up. It's so pretty!

We got to our cool cabins and got moved in. A couple of us drove into town for provisions for dinner, others started preparing food they'd brought. There was some relaxing and frisbee and plenty of beer and wine too. Eventually we'd cooked up an admirable spread and enjoyed a relaxed dinner outside. All the cabins had a quincho (grill) and big outdoor tables. We were at the very end of the property, no doubt because they knew we'd be rowdy troublemakers. :) 

Of course I didn't take pictures of this, but when I think back on this weekend what I remember is playing games outside after dinner. We played Bananagrams, Catch Phrase, Phase 10.... We stayed up late and laughed until our stomachs hurt and we ran out of wine.

The next day, the weather was a little crummy, making us glad we weren't camping. The hotel had a decent breakfast, we all moseyed over as we woke up. Eventually we decided to head to the park, even though it was raining a bit.

 Once there, we hiked all over the place, and had to cross the river multiple times. We also saw lots of cool waterfalls, and these cool red mushrooms. I tried to see other wildlife but was unsuccessful. Ybycui is one of Paraguay's most popular parks, and is 5000 hectares. We saw Salto Mina, below, and Salto Guarani, below some more.

The Canadians! (and Maggie, honorary Canadian)

Going back, the water was much deeper.
Apparently the rain we'd driven through
had made it's way down the mountains
a bit. But not one of us fell in!

We were standing around eating some snacks when these cows came running by at a fast clip. I was a little worried about being gored, but they just raced on by.

Did you notice all that bug repellent in the top picture? Well I used it, as I'd been warned about the mosquitos this time of year, especially in the park of Ybycui. However, all that wading through streams must have washed it off because I was in bad shape by the end of it! Oh the agony!