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Life in Community

Patterns of Asunción

March 7, 2018 by

“You’ll be in Asunción for the summer? Estás loca. There’s nothing to do there and you’re going to melt.”

So counseled some South American friends when they heard my vacation plans. It was nothing new. I’ve felt similar vibes over the years from a number of North American friends. To their understanding, Paraguay’s outstanding features are danger, dirt, disease, and dishonesty.

Which are all present, of course. Neither is Paraguay a tourist hotspot like Peru or central Mexico. But the country I’ve had the privilege of visiting twice is one of the most beautiful in the world. Gorgeous for intense green foliage punctuated by dizzyingly bright flowers. Enchanting for wide views from craggy cerros. Generous for cool streams flowing at their feet, and a constant and ubiquitous supply of fruit in season. The urban landscape holds its own beauty, too, I discovered this summer. Trash litters the streets that are badly in need of repair, and infrastructure is seriously lacking – but this unfortunate situation has turned the sweltering Asunción streets into fascinating works of art.

Of course, the best part of Paraguay is its people. The folks I met were warm and welcoming – and proudly so. Had they not told me their stories, I would never have guessed the ordeals many of them have endured. But something deeper than mere resilience has enabled them to move forward: the acceptance that life won’t always be easy, and an unshakable, optimistic faith that has no use for anger or grudges.

Inspired by the collective beauty of this country, I spent a lot of time this summer taking pictures. My favorite shots are of the streets of Asunción. They illustrate that in Paraguay, life is what it is. Así no más es, luego. Like sun glinting off an unkempt palm tree, like a pattern hidden in cracked and muddy flagstones, like a glowing broken brick tumbled from its orderly stack.


Coretta Thomson is a Bruderhof member studying at the University in Montevideo, Uruguay. She just spent the southern summer at our Bruderhof location in Asuncion, Paraguay. For more thoughts from Uruguay, see this and this from her fellow student Shannon McPherson.

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