Oh sweet wonder to be with good friends who truly know all about you. Over the past few weeks we were graced with the presence of some of our favorite people in the world — friends from Goshen College. Here’s how our epic trip went down:
Phase 1: Tour of Paraguay with Jen & LaMont
Phase 2: Time in Buenos Aires, Argentina with Jen & LaMont, Kate & Will
Phase 3: Tour of Paraguay with Kate & Will
It was a good mix of alone time with each couple as well as time to soak up the whole group together. My stomach was fluttering with excitement and anticipation for weeks and days leading up to the moment we met Jen and LaMont in the airport in Asunción, Paraguay just before midnight. Somehow it felt both completely normal and incredibly rare to see them in our new neck of the woods.
Even though Jen and LaMont had just completed a big day of travel, it was difficult to get settled down and to sleep that first night with so many millions of things to talk about. Eventually we did though, in order to start exploring the joys of Paraguay the next morning.
Our first stop was Itaipu Dam near Ciudad del Este, Paraguay. It is a huge dam that generates more energy annually than any other hydroelectric facility in the world. Go Paraguay! It’s actually a joint project between the neighboring countries of Brazil and Paraguay. You get the friendly, fuzzy feeling of these two countries working together in every stage of the project, from construction to today’s operations, as you pass by the row of Brazilian and Paraguayan flags as you enter the visitor’s center.
Later the fuzzy feeling may diminish slightly when you learn that Paraguay must sell the energy it doesn’t use to Brazil at prices based on energy rates in 1975, the year construction on the dam began and a contract was signed. As it stands, Brazil and Paraguay each own half of the dam’s huge turbines, so 10 each. However, due to its relatively small size, Paraguay uses less than 2 of its turbines. Energy generated from its remaining 8 turbines is sold to Brazil.
This dam provides close to 90% of the total energy that Paraguay uses, and even with the extra energy from Paraguay’s turbines, only 20% of the total energy used by Brazil.
Everything about the dam was huge, and therefore quite impressive. Our tour guide told us that when the spillways are opened (which only happens 5-7 times per year when the water level gets too high – so don’t visit the dam expecting to see the beautiful rushing water that all the brochures picture) more water passes per second than the Iguazu Falls, a beautiful natural attraction we headed off to visit the following day.