A Modern Rediscovery
The sun casts a dusty amber dusk as it dips beneath the horizon. A cool autumn breeze hums throughout a sleepy city center. Cobblestone streets wind between neon lit bars and impressive Baroque architecture. The languorous Río Paraguayo brushes over a seemingly endless ribbon of promenade.
20,000 kilometers, 30 flight hours, and 3 time zones later, we find ourselves at the historical crossroad of Asunción.
Affectionately known as the Mother of Cities, Asunción absorbed diverse cultures until her very walls can be read as if a history book. The buildings shrink in the city center where the original Spanish streets once were, wrinkling into narrow, winding roads. Grandiose colonial-era constructions eternally line her stony sidewalks.
As we venture away from the city center, the city begins to grow again. Eclectic murals adorn the facade of cookie-cutter residential blocks. Heady scents of tea and smoke stalked us as we traversed under their angular shadows. Cars splutter as they navigate uneven roads. Metal spoons clutter on bubbling pots. Chatter is incessant and nondescript. Stalls bursting with piles of bread, patterned cloth, woven baskets, leather slippers, wooden trinkets, and fruit blur in an array of color and texture.
A full day’s worth of travel removed from the city proper, we were reminded of the beauty and humbling endlessness of the Paraguayan countryside. First, a treacherous boat ride down the Río Paraguayo, on which the literal pillars that held up this great city were floated. Next, a bumpy ride off the beaten path, into an ever unfolding flux of sugar cane fields that roll beyond the horizon.
Alas, between rolling hills under unblemished skies, we reach the end of our pilgrimage. Our destination: a well-worn distillery whose appearance belies its significance. An emblematic establishment whose values of today embody a culmination of cultural exchange from centuries past. It is here that we learned of Paraguay’s best kept secret.