Well, I may have gotten off to a late start in the blogging game, but here we go! My plan for this blog is to use it as a space to share about the practical sides of our experience here in Paraguay, sharing our discoveries as we transition from U.S. culture to our new Paraguayan culture. We'll share more intentionally about how and where we see the Lord working in, through, and around us in our monthly prayer letter updates, but I'm sure that will necessarily bleed over into this blog space, as well. I hope that you enjoy seeing a bit of this experience through our eyes as we experience it - we've certainly enjoyed it thoroughly so far!
I thought I'd start with the roads here in Asuncion. The image of a road has been a bit of a theme for us as we've been on this journey over the last year or so in moving to Paraguay, so it only seems fitting that our first blog would touch on the practical realities of the roads. We'll start here with the roads in Asuncion, as that has been our main experience over the last month. There are two primary road surfaces that you see here: asphalt and cobblestone. The normal, primary roads in the city that see heavy traffic are paved. It's pretty much the same as you'd see in the U.S., although medium use roads seem to my eye to be a bit less maintained than in the States, with plenty of rough spots and potholes. It appears to me that the main focus is on the heavily traveled thoroughfares, which I have observed to be very well maintained on the whole.
The second type of road surface is far, far more interesting to me: cobblestone (called in Spanish here empedrado). Empedrado roads are everywhere in Asuncion, but always used on secondary roads/streets. If you turn off of the main road, you are almost guaranteed to be driving on empedrado. It is not something that we've ever seen in the U.S., and while it is really quaint and charming, it is not for the faint of heart. I've included a quick photo here of empadrado surfacing in our neighborhood to try to give you a feel for it.
We drive a pretty sturdy 4x4, and even with solid suspension it makes a typical Iowa gravel road that's been "washboarded" by heavy traffic look smooth. The cobblestones are large, irregular, relatively sharp rocks, even after being worn mostly smooth over the years. Driving over them feels a little like the ice cubes in a cocktail shaker must feel. I can only imagine the wear on all of the components of a vehicle's suspension, and expect to be replacing plenty of parts and tires even before we move into the countryside after this year.
One final note on roads here in Asuncion: look out for trees. This is not true on main roads, but on empedrado surfaced roads it is not at all uncommon to find one (or several ) trees growing right in the middle of the road. Not in the center of a defined boulevard, bur rather literally growing up right in the middle of the road. It struck me as pretty odd at first, but the more I drive around them, the more I have come to appreciate just how scenic and somehow down-home they make a neighborhood feel. I hope that they never start removing them. It would feel like a real loss.
Until next time . . .