Isaiah and I had a blast exploring Asunción, capital city of the country we’ve called home for the last year, when our college friend Doug came to visit. While in the past Asunción had just been a place to stock up on almonds and dried chickpeas, now had the chance to be even more.
It was the place we soaked up a few days with Doug who hopped down to the P-guay to visit us after a hiking trek in Peru. We even got to all crash at the house of another Goshen College buddy, Julio, so you can imagine it was a good time recalling the old days and having a laugh. This time on some pimped-out city buses.
In addition to stirring up old memories and catching up on new happenings, we made sure Doug had the chance to try a bunch of traditional Paraguayan foods. Here we are giving two thumbs up to the Lido Bar, a famous traditional diner in the heart of Asunción that keeps in tact its old time charms and delicious traditional food.
Just across the street we visited the Palace of the Heroes and strolled the nearby streets of people selling traditional artesian goods and well, pretty much everything else too.
One day we even hopped on a little boat at the customs dock and took a leisurely ride across the water into Chaco’i.
It was impressive to see the rapid change from big city to tiny town. Unfortunately we got there around the siesta time so didn’t find much going on. Or maybe that’s just all part of the distinction.
Since we didn’t have time to take Doug to our town, it was good to walk around Chaco’i for a feel of the tranquilo life we lead outside of the city.
Loma San Jerónimo is the first tourist neighborhood in Asunción and it’s only very recently that they’ve started the effort to earn that title.
Their buildings are painted up fresh and bright, they have an official tourist office and funky, clear signs to point out restaurants and attractions, like this lookout point.
Unfortunately for us, most of the activities take place on the weekends with a weekly Sunday market in the streets, for instance. But we were still invited into someone’s home (there was a restaurant sign outside, but later we learned it’s normally only open Thursdays-Sundays) where the senora of the house cooked up some hot and fresh mbeju for us to try with Doug. As we sat at their family’s kitchen table while a young girl danced to some music videos in the adjoining living room, I realized how rare yet normal it all seemed.
I especially loved the neighborhood’s use of recycled materials (like the painted plastic bottles below) to create a festive garland across the streets. Potential fun project for the kids at the soup kitchen?
The trip was quick, but we were so grateful for the chance to spend some time with Doug and have a little vacation ourselves. And to top it all off, I even got to meet up for some fresh passionfruit juice with another college friend, Liz, before heading back to our site. She was helping lead a Spanish trip for one of the local high schools but was able to sneak away for a couple of hours.
We were both business education majors and she took over my old teaching job when I switched positions, but it’s more than that. There’s something so similar about us that makes us see eye to eye on living an intentional, passion-filled life that makes talking to her such a life-giving experience. It was an all-around wonderful trip to Asunción.