09.04.2013 - 12.04.2013 30 °C
In Brazil I realized that I had acquired the deepest tan of my life.
In Paraguay, I realize I have acquired the largest number of mosquito bites (at once) in my life.
Not loving that too much.
My skin is not so much a color as a pattern and Asia and I have given up on trying to beat the heat and now wear long pants and scarves all day.
That said, we are in paradise. Or heaven, take your pick
(Again. It seems I have uttered those words more times than I can count.. But what can I say? Life is great )
Granja El Roble is a working ranch outside of Concepcion in the middle of Paraguay. It is owned by Peter, a German who bought the land thirteen years ago with his Paraguayan wife Andresa and they now live on this farm with their three kids. Surrounding the main house are five little cottages with one room each containing 2-6 beds, all available for rent.
Staying at this place is like visiting (very service-minded) relatives or friends of the family, everybody eats at the same tables at the same time (three times a day, the food is delicious and EVERYthing from the meat to the fresh baked bread to the homemade cheese comes off the farm..!) and hangs out in the same common spaces with the animals.
Oh, THE ANIMALS!! During our four days here we have come to know and love a macaw named Gotí, a big bird named Sylvio but called Pico, a toucan ( ), a howler-monkey (Dodo), an armadillo (Tatí), an Anaconda (Ana), and a tapir (Fifi). Along with numerous fish (in numerous aquariums), frogs of every size (not in aquariums but everywhere else), turtles, rabbits and probably more that I can't remember right now they make up the household pets. As you can imagine, Asia and I have been thrilled from morning to evening playing with the animals or just happily enjoying their company.
Goti is incredibly social as well as extremely intelligent. He talks but not very clearly, so I at least can't understand what he is saying (plus, the phrases are in Spanish or Guarani). About a year ago he got in a fight with Dodo who proceeded to rip/tear/bite Goti's whole upper beak off. It is growing back slowly, but Gotí definitely looks quite remarkable right now. He loves to be petted and scratched over his neck and back, and politely holds up his wings for us so that we can reach better
Dodo is mainly confined to his cage because of the incident with Gotí a year ago. He gets to come out sometimes when the birds are locked up, but we have yet to see that, and the medium-sized monkey is the only one I feel is not leading a satisfactory life, which makes me sad.
Tatí is super-cute but weird - he CLIMBS the net of his cage instead of digging in the ground. As long as you watch him, you can take him "for a walk" which means to let him out and play with him. Oh, he is SO cute!!
Pico is also always around, he is really a "Southern Screamer" but he doesn't scream so much as coo, chirp and make little chuckling/gurgling noises. He is very cuddly and will come up and lay his head in your lap to be petted. He also reaches exactly to the top edge of the table and will walk around us chirping for bread or rice (or attention, but rice is better ). The image of Pico poking his head up over the opposite side of the table, nibbling at an empty plate and looking at us politely but expectantly as if to suggest that he is indeed very hungry, is one that makes me laugh and a memory I hope I will never forget.
Fifi has an enclosure but is let out to roam around the premises during the day. It is lovely to lie reading in a hammock strung between two trees when suddenly a tapir comes up to sniff your face, allows you to scratch her on the back and then slowly wanders off again.
Ana was found three years ago with a broken neck and somehow miraculously healed over time. Still she is not as a snake should be - she does not catch prey but is fed every day and even shares an enclosure with the children's rabbits which she has never attempted to touch.
Until the day we arrived when she killed the youngest son's pet rabbit and proceeded to try to eat it. We were of course fascinated and watched her try to swallow the rabbit for two hours until it got dark. Apparently she never managed to eat it, which is too bad since it was dead anyway. I wonder if it is the break and wounds of her neck that has left scarring making it impossible for her to swallow something of that size.. But that is just speculation of course, I know next to nothing about snakes.
We have been really lucky with the weather during our stay. Hot, sunny days just made for lying around reading, swimming in the stone-lined basin, talking, eating, taking pictures (slapping mosquitoes..) and random spells of rain at night. The other day we went tubing down a river for 1,5 hours (normally the trip takes 2,5 hours but because of all the rain lately the river is super-high and super-fast right now). It was wonderful to be totally immersed in Nature, peacefully floating down a river.. Have I told you how beautiful it is here? Paraguay is by far one of my most favorite countries to experience at close range the glory of nature. Whether we are running, walking, riding cars, busses or horse-drawn carriages (oh, incidentally, the "taxi" we took from the bus terminal to our hotel in Concepcion turned out to be a horse-drawn cart..) or just sitting somewhere, the beauty and the richness of nature takes my breath away.
I would not have missed going to Paraguay for the world, and I seriously hope to come back in the future!!