Eventually the Jesuits economic success infuriated the Spanish King, who then expelled them back to Europe after 150 years. Today the great religious edifices built by the indigenous Gaurani people for the Jesuits lie in ruins, the most remarkable of which are found in Trinidad. The setting of the buildings in the lush green tropical landscape makes the ruins far more beautiful, and the scale of the structures is impressive. The history of South America is riddled with tales of the loss of indigenous cultures to missionaries so it was interesting to learn about the Jesuits who had a far more civil and culturally responsive approach to assimilation, and whom were able to prosper for so long during such turbulent times.
We were lucky to have timed our visit to Encarnacion with the big parade finale. We met an awesome British couple in our hostel, Nick and Lindsay, who had bought the same tickets to party with us. After a pre-party of ridiculously strong Brazilian flavoured cocktails, we ventured to the Sambadromo parade ground feeling somewhat intoxicated. In an effort to get into the Carnaval spirit, prior to the event, we paid a visit to a local costume shop to buy masquerade masks and wigs, it turns out Paraguayans aren’t really into this, we were likely the most ridiculously dressed people in the crowd – at least the masks helped disguise our very drunk faces.
Our hostel had sold us tickets to a party within the Sambadromo, which they claimed had the best spot at the centre point of the runway. The tickets, which cost AUS$40 a pop, also included entry to the after party to live out the fiesta with the locals into the wee hours of the morning. Being the biggest night of the Carnaval the party location was over crowded. Despite our hostels claims of the “best spot in the sambadromo” it was packed and visibility pretty crap unless you fought your way to the front which the locals didn’t like and eventually led to an aggressive altercation between a very nasty man and a drunk Iain and our subsequent dismissal from the event altogether. So much for the after party! At one point we actually ditched the party to see the parade from the grandstand which offered far better views of the samba schools shimmying their way towards us, but the locals didn’t like us here either and it wasn’t long until they pushed us out of this spot too. If we were to go again we wouldn’t bother with the “Party” tickets, the general tickets – which are far cheaper – to the grandstand lining the runway are definitely better for seeing the parade.
You can view our photos of Encarnacion here.
Next stop, we take it sloooow and steady up the Rio Paraguay…