Claires travel pages
Claires travel pages
LAGO YPACARAÍ and PARAGUAYAN BUSES

I think that the most memorable thing about going to see lake Ypacaraí was the buses and the journey. Having gone to the main central bus station, we sat around waiting for our bus to the lake. Joy of joys, there in front of me were all the buses I had been wanting to photograph, all standing still, parked in a nice long neat row, with no traffic around them, beautifully clean and polished! Being a good tourist, and to the great embarrassment of my friends, I marched across the station and started taking photos of all the buses. The drivers were delighted and started telling me all about the buses, where each one was made, how old they were, etc. Apparently the buses are all hand painted once a year in order to maintain a nice colour. At least, the buses they were telling me about were! We were invited in for a nice cup of Yerba Maté while we waited for our bus.

Shortly after this, our bus arrived. A stark contrast to the nicely polished buses I had just been photographing!! The seats were the more usual worn kind, with a few holes in the floor so we could see the ground as we went along. When the bus started, it was as if we had just fired up a diesel engine… on full throttle, going down a hill, I could have still gone faster than the bus at a walk! Amazing! It took us one hour to get to destination (We only stopped twice on the way to top up on engine oil so that it wouldn’t explode), by which time we were ready for the lake!

The lake and Paraguayan folk songs

The lake! So many stories had I heard about this lake, that I was expecting an idyllic peaceful shore. Instead, the water was black and grimy and full of litter, with a few people paddling away in the muck. Very disappointing. On the other hand, we made the most of our visit to the lake to take a closer look at rural Paraguayan life by visiting a local pottery factory, the little village church and a few of the posh country residences belonging to rich Paraguayan families. This visit also gave us the change to see part of the old Paraguayan train line, which is unfortunately no longer in use. There were a few carriages left at the local station and, although some of the tracks were covered over in grass, they seemed to be in OK shape.

For the romantics among you, here is a traditional Guarani song (in Spanish) about the lake:

RECUERDOS DE YPACARAÍ (Guarania)

Letra: ZULEMA DE MIRKIN
Música: DEMETRIO ORTIZ

Una noche tibia nos conocimos
Junto al agua azul de Ypacaraí
Tú cantabas triste por el camino
Viejas melodías en guaraní.
Y con el embrujo de tus canciones
Iba renaciendo tu amor en mí
Y en la noche hermosa de plenilunio
De tus blancas manos sentí el calor
Que con tus caricias me dio el amor.

Donde estás ahora cuñataí
Que tu suave canto no llega a mí
Donde estás ahora mi ser te añora
Con frenesí.

Todo te recuerda mi dulce amor
Junto al lago azul de Ypacaraí
Vuelve para siempre mi amor te espera
Cuñataí.

The journey back, on the same bus, was just as exciting. Having sat myself on the back seat, which span the total width of the bus, I was soon joined there by a rabble of kids and a very big fat mamma. As the bus was leaving the lakeside village, it went over one of these really sharp speed bumps, at quite a (relatively) high speed. Everyone on the bus was catapulted off their seats into the air. When I say this, I really mean OFF seats, my feet were level with where my bum had been a few seconds previously! Anyway, the bump itself was quite spectacular, but the landing was priceless. Having just about landed on my seat, I was immediately showered by kids, rebounding off the Mamma, who nearly landed on me herself. My friends, who were sitting in a more sensible seat slightly further forwards, found this hilarious!

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