Asunción, The City

The view from the airplane says it all: small parcels of land, plenty of green, small villages and red earthen tracks.

The capital’s airport has one conveyor belt with one man handling the luggage.

It feels as if we were here previous week. It feels as coming home. Immediately. Recognizable. Comfortable.

There seems to be little stress in the capital of Paraguay. People may sit along the road and watch. Suddenly everything is normal to our eyes. A big difference to Costa Brava, to say the least.

Paraguay has balance. It comforts by being normal, friendly and forthcoming. Paraguay is the opposite of abundance. Geo and I were curious how we would feel upon entering this country, were we apply for a permanent residence visa.

Normality is the biggest attraction for me. But what is normal? Certainly not a near to dying man on the pavement… yet playing devotional music, praising the Lord, in a supermarket is pleasing my mind.

A supermarket with precious little on offer. Just normal. Of a sort unknown in Europe. Paraguay is tame, back to where the core still holds value.

That of family. Of work. Of spirituality, not of foreign divination but simply Jesus.

Geo meets with a young, tattooed sort of street-guy who reads the Bible in the bus. Weird, right? Turns out he was addicted to cocaine for many years but found salvation through Jesus and is now a married father. When we part, his eyes are soft and of a total innocence.

In fact, the city is brimful with poverty. Eyes mirky. Many homeless. Although in Asunción I see no abnormal exaggeration; life extended to ideals too far away. Opposite all this the downside; they who have nothing, and I who doesn’t do a thing…

The city brings my own hidden fear to the light. What if I get sick? What if I have no money? My being is not by definition safer than one who became homeless.

The city caters to office people, to keep the country running, and all the do is spurting, from air-cooled office to air-cooled restaurant. On black high heels, over pavement uneven, potholed and broken. City-people grow in a horizontal position. Drugs users sit openly in the street, the other corner of that same street posh and lavishly green. Asuncion is such a mixed bag!

On a Sunday the city works as a sieve and only the wicked, mentally ill, homeless, drugs addicts and wanderers are about. People go to church, wear T-shirts with Jesus printed on them.

Many obese, alternated by some anorexia. Some so fat they can not possibly walk more than a 100 meters. Sitting in the public bus makes me tired, as I am constantly judging others. People make me rather depressive, their looks, their suffering. So few healthy looking people, so few slim. So many obese. Their weight makes it a struggle to mount the bus and its narrow fenced system. Many people their lower legs are purple, as if carpeted with opaque watercolor. They have a special place in the bus, next to pregnant woman, elderly and disabled.

Walking in Asunción brings me in an instant in less desired parts, such as Mercado 4. As if stepping into a scene unwanted. Posters of lost people (and dogs) are glued to poles; often old, insane, suffering Alzheimer, or physical and mentally unstable.

Prostitutes and beggars, homeless and hungry, hopeless and the ones not cared for. Black dirt, cracked heels, open wounds. Indigenous youth, in their concrete jungle. All flock to the city. The social network are the people, the people they choose, their kind, their standard. I think this thought makes it easier to deal with what I see? Asunción is… so much a city… far from normal. Yet, it’s Paraguay.

Asunción is as pleasant as carrying little sachets of shampoo, the ultimate feeling of travel. But now, quick to the countryside where our motorbike is waiting…

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