We drove a 150cc motorbike through 5 countries of South America. The only reason to drive this little motorbike with so much luggage and two persons was that Geo had bought the motorbike 2 years prior in Paraguay to explore the continent by himself. But he never did. Now was the chance. And that was what we did.
Our journey can only start once we are reunited with the motorbike, so with pressed jaws, a backpack on my back and one in front, we set off in a city bus to the main bus station in Asunción. After a dull seven hour ride we are back in the capital of the Chaco, Filadelfia.
The view from the airplane says it all: small parcels of land, plenty of green, small villages and red earthen tracks.
At the end, this post has bloody images, unsuitable when you’re having your lunch synchronous with reading this post. But when you’re a carnivore, I urge you to watch them.
The farm had slaughtered a cow as she was having a tumor of some sort. She was released relatively painless.
About a year ago: having attracted a bacterial infection makes walking painful, not a very welcome happening now we, Geo, who became my husband and me, are replacing the hardworking Andreas and Elvira at Iparoma farm. Meanwhile the news reports about a missing Austrian man in Cerro Leon reach us, and Geo and I decide to go another little trip as soon as we are relieved from our tasks. Off to Cerro Leon!
Nearly a year earlier: ending up at a farm in Paraguay I met another traveler, Geo, whom I have married. Very unexpected we decided to move away from the farm, somewhere else in Paraguay. But we kept a promise: to replace the workers at the farm when their mom from Germany would visit them, so they could go on a little holiday.
My husband and me leave the lushness of the cordillera behind, zipping through Brazil, meeting unreal real-estate agents on a motorbike and meeting with more Paraguayans in an unchanged rural setting.
More than a year ago: I am together with Geo, whom I met on a Paraguayan farm far north (and who has become my husband). Working and traveling together is one thing, now we will find out whether we match in a whole different surrounding.
More than a year ago: I had lessons in cheese making in mind, where I would portray the newly made foodies with elaborate photographs. The harsh Chaco sunlight filtered by the mosquito screen would make for classy pictures, probably more beautiful than the end result.
More than a year ago: Baking whole grain bread on a camp fire needs a bit more practise. It takes me 20 kilometer to find a supermarket selling rye, barley and spelt and see who I make happy with it! No better face than a happy face! And I get to see more happy faces: I exchange goat Emma for a human person.
This post has bloody images. This post shows photo’s not corresponding with the farm I worked on. The farm I worked on, and the farm where some of the pictures come from are not unnecessarily cruel to their animals as far as I have been a witness (slaughtering went professional).
Previous post: I am at a big farm, 20 kilometers away from Filadelfia, the capital of the Chaco. I met Marilyn previous year in the supermarket where she asked me whether I wanted to stay at her house. I wanted that, and we have kept contact. Now I can work on a Work Away basis for as long as I want.
I am at a big farm, 20 kilometers away from Filadelfia, the capital of the Chaco, a province far from where the action of Paraguay is. In this town I met Marilyn previous year in the supermarket where she asked me whether I wanted to stay at her house. I wanted that, and we have kept contact. Now, when I am tired of cycling, in need for some good rest, I can work on a Work Away basis for as long as I want, on her farm. ‘Let’s start working!’ is every’s Mennonite motto, this means no rest whatsoever. I start working the day after I arrive.
People ask me the obvious: ‘Are you cycling to Bolivia?’, as this is the only border crossing. I reply: ‘No, I cycle to Filadelfia.’ With cycling to Filadelfia I am trapped. Cornered in a part of the world where is only one official way out. I have set the capital of the Chaco as my final destination, but one day I have to move on, and the only two, official, choices I have I both despise: crossing into Bolivia over a horrible road or turning back.
The big city. Asunción. It turns out to be a good choice. There where bus drivers drink térére while driving, watching their clientage wrestling out of the bus.
Perhaps the motorbike journey could be seen as our honeymoon. I met Geo while he was in the process of buying a motorbike and on that same motorbike we traversed across South America after we were married (we drove much of the route I earlier cycled). Before that, before we married, we got to learn each other and the Chaco by the very same transport.
I have found myself the wrong place to camp, resulting in an adventure though. After two nights of camping peacefully and baking bread, which I described into detail in this post, a surprise came at my tent door. Being back in Paraguay feels remarkable pleasant and the boredom of the Brazilian and Argentinean roads has been exchanged for Paraguayan people I find different, remarkable good-humored.
The second time in Paraguay brings me a different experience. I now know the people, have much more comprehensive skills of the language, I know the landscape’s limitations, it’ll bring me nothing but agriculture, I know it’s only a wastefulness of 400 kilometers before I reach a different geographical region. Then I am done with the long long long long long formation of visible cultivation.
It happens that some don’t know where I am, or wonder where the country I’m cycling through is actually situated, or that I am elsewhere than where some think I am. Confusion all over.
Meet Alex Chacon What you never see in my blog posts you see now on Alex’s YouTube channel.
When raising the word Amish or Mennonites one might be inclined to think: ‘Devout hard working people, women in dark ankle length dresses and men in similar old-fashioned style clothing. They are pious, quiet and live an utmost simple life without pleasures as many of us know them whereby avoiding modernity and social jumble with outsiders.’
The only choice I have -and count on- for safe camping is the border check-post, 7 kilometer before the actual border crossing. Having arrived here after 110 kilometers cycling in a heat of 40 degrees, I surrender to the customs. That means I must first drink the offered tereré, as if I am not tired and hungry but tranquillo is the key to success.
Lomo Plata hosts many indigena in search for work. They just hang around at factories, dressed in poor, dirty clothes, arriving in truck loads. I am surprised when I see a Mennonite woman being homeless and asking for a rather big donation.
I notice the first bleak, sullen looking German-alike faces when I reach the turn-off to Hochstadt, another 35 kilometer on hard mud combined with loose sand. Whereas the average Paraguayan is hard to read, the German looking faces are reminding me of Stalin. I know Stalin isn’t German, so aren’t the Mennonites. They are Paraguayan.
‘It’s a dangerous route, the road is narrow’, ‘there are wild animals’, ‘not so many people live there’, ‘it’s too hot’, ‘many mosquito’s’, ‘the distance between houses is big’, ‘it’s a jungle, nothing is there, boring route’.
‘Paraguay is weird,’ said the student I’d met in Ponta Pora. Good, weird suits me. I’d heard little to nothing about Paraguay and so it only became more attractive to me. Paraguay is in the heart of South America, wedged between Brazil, Bolivia and Argentina. 95% of the population lives in eastern Paraguay, which is easy to figure out on the map of this country.