Friday, June 19, 2015

Tuesday, June 16, 2015: Posadas, Argentina & Encarnacion, Paraguay

Today, we left the hotel soon after 9:00 to catch a train that crosses the Parana River  from Posadas, Argentina into Encarnacion, Paraguay.  The hotel desk said that a taxi would be here immediately after they were called, well that “immediate” was 10 minutes later! The taxi driver said, “Don’t worry, the train leaves the Station at 9:30”, well that was also incorrect.  It leaves every 30 minutes from each side of the river and we wanted to be on the 9:15 train as Encarnacion, Paraguay Rotarians would be waiting for us on the Paraguay side of the river.  To say the least we were late by our standards, but everyone was ok with it!!  We haven’t adjusted to this lifestyle yet. 

The train was apparently an old German or an old Dutch train, as there were signs on the train in one of those languages.  We had to go through immigration on each side of the river, as we were leaving Argentina and entering Paraguay.  The train travels on a new bridge that was built with a single train track on one side and 2 lanes of vehicle traffic on the other side of the bridge – beautiful bridge.

As expected the Rotarians were patiently waiting on us, and they took us to their new beautiful Rotary building – dedicated just for Rotary use.  There is plenty of space, both upstairs and down.  Additional Encarnacion Rotarians met us before we left to see the Rotary water project the Rotary Club of District 6000 and a few individuals sponsored.  We drove about 30 minutes through a heavy agricultural area (we saw corn, wheat and cattle), before turning off the main road unto a dirt road – bright red soil. This area was rolling hills, which is so different from the areas we have driven in Argentina where it is table top level.  It was great seeing the lush rolling hills.

Road Leading to the Project Village

New Bridge

Village Sign

On this dirt road we crossed a newly built bridge, before coming to a small village of 35 family units of indigenous peoples.  The Rotary Club Encarnacion heard about their low standard of living, and their health needs.  They decided to advocate for this small village to the local authorities and for the infrastructure of a bridge to cross the river.  All they could do was ford the river when the river was flooded, they had no way of leaving their village. The basic infrastructure of a bridge was badly needed.

New Toilet Block and Laundry Facility 

Rotarians, Guests and Villagers

Laundry Facility

Bathroom Sink


Old Laundry Hole beside the Bridge

The next infrastructure need was water in the village.  The women washed clothes in the river and carried water back to the village.  This is where Rotary helped.  A well was drilled and the water is pumped to the water tower on the hill behind the village. The Rotary Grant also built a building with two sets of 4 toilets and showers – men on one side and women on the other.  In an open area between the toilet blocks there are 4 sinks with running water, each having a built-in old fashioned wash board, so the women are able to wash their clothes right there in the village.  In another building nearby Rotary also built a shower house.  Due to the influence from the Rotary Club, the local government and other agencies have stepped forward and made improvements in the village – school, mobile health clinics (the day we were there a team of health care workers were in the village doing pap smears for the women), and someone has been building houses of clay blocks for them.  They are simple houses but they have tile roofs and are so much better than the mud style hut houses they have been living in.  Some people are still in the old style houses so we were able to take some photos of them.

Presenting School Materials to the Village Leader with the Rotary Club President

Television Coverage of our Visit

Village Garden

Left to Right - Gardener, Village Leader and Cal

Due to having water right there in the village they have improved their garden area. They had a gorgeous garden area which they have enlarged.  They now can water the plants without personally carrying the water from the river.  The soil is a brick red color but it does grow wonderful veggies.

Village Church

Bench with Guitar Insider the Church

Roof from the Inside

The Front of the Church
Village Family

Washing Clothes by her House

Drying her Clothes on the Garden Fence

Elderly Man Wrapping a Cane with Reed

Selling Home Made Baskets

New Water Tower with Tank

Shower Building

Older Village Houses

Newer Block Houses

Wash Day

Outdoor Oven

Women Waiting outside the Medical Clinic

Mobile Clinic Medical Staff

Examination Room
They are so grateful for everything Rotary has done for them, and we felt like we were such a small part of making a difference in their lives.  The local Rotarians are the ones doing the work – advocating for this group of indigenous people.  We were so glad we were able to visit the site.

Smile of Gratitude

After returning to the city we had a delightful lunch at a restaurant owned by the daughter of one of the Rotarians.  These lunches do not last for just 1 hour, but 2 hours!  After lunch we returned to Posadas on the train, again going through immigration on both sides.  We used the city bus to get from the train terminal to the hotel where we relaxed, freshened up and changed for the evening event. 

Newly developed Encarnacion River Front

Posadas across the River from Encarnacion

Lunch with Rotarians

At 8:30 we were ready to be picked up by car by several Rotarians from one of the Posadas Rotary Clubs.  This time we drove across the bridge to Paraguay, of course showing our passports in Argentina and again in Paraguay.  I mention these immigration stops, as when Cal presented his passport tonight, the gal kept looking at it, and looking at it. “What was the problem?”  Well apparently this afternoon when we returned to Argentina on the train, the guy at immigrations stamped everyone’s passport except Cal’s – meaning that Cal never left Paraguay this afternoon (like he actually did).  This official did not stamp Cal’s passport this evening when we entered Paraguay - they will do it when we leave later tonight. So according to his passport, Cal spent a full day in Paraguay compared to the rest of us!! 

After this delay we finally arrived at the Rotary meeting.  This Rotary meeting was special.  They felt so honored to have guest, as they seldom have guest, plus we supported them on this wonderful project and they were truly grateful to us for helping. 

BBQ'ing Beef and Lamb - A 5 Hour Process

BBQ'ing Sausage - The Dark Sausage is Blood Sausage

Ready for Dinner

Rotary Banner Exchange

The Finished Product

The BBQ Chef Serving

Will We Look Fat Full and Satisfied?
For the evening meal they had a real Asado (gaucho style BBQ).  About 5 hours ahead of the meal a fire was prepared outside and when the coal are burned down, the meat is set on racks by the coals.  It cooks at least 3 hours, nice and slow.  They had beef, pork and lamb on the outdoor grill.  Then on their indoor rotisserie grill they had long skewers of sausage, chicken and blood sausage.  Meat, Meat and more meat!  On a center table they had all sorts of salads, prepared by the Rotarian,s wives.  Plus there were two cakes for desert. We began eating around 10:00 and were having desert at 11:45!! ALL of the food was wonderful.  Some of these thin Paraguayan women had two deserts!!! – the cake was so good!  This Rotary Club has an Asado once a month to celebrate the Rotarian birthdays of the month.

It was another late night!! And I cannot go to sleep on such a full stomach!

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