Encarnacion: Costanera.

June 15, 2013

Kablooey 144A beach! A veritable beach!

Here are a few facts about Paraguay: it is landlocked. It hugs no deep blue sea, and in fact, around these parts, bodies of water, including that which trickles out of my shower head, tend to be brown and smelly.

Imagine my surprise then when, after some six hours of driving away from Asuncion and toward the southeastern region of Paraguay, we came upon a coastline.¬†A remarkably modern development of tiled boardwalk bordered by a stretch of alarmingly clean sand, itself then also touching a cerulean-colored pane of glass that uncannily resembled water. Say it ain’t so, but we had in fact arrived at the Costanera of Encarnacion and its recently improved section of the Paran√° River bank.

Of course, it was juxtaposed between the modern skyline of Formosa, Argentina located just across the river as well as the shambles of primitive housing more reminiscent of the Paraguay I’ve grown accustomed to. Just behind the parking lot were overgrown plots of dry brush and an unsightly cemetery of rusting bleachers, but regardless, I was impressed to see such development in Paraguay at all. Furthermore as a native San Diegan, I was thrilled to be anywhere near a passable beach.

The serenity of staring out into a watery horizon and watching the sun slowly melt into a thousand warm hues will always evoke a sense of home no matter the exact location. While I was actually several thousand miles off from everything I know to be San Diego, reclining in the thatched lifeguard tower (illegally as I was informed much later) felt reassuringly familiar.

Cheers to those moments.

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I always thought Honduras was the bottom of the barrel. Then I came to Paraguay.

Even though I reside in the capital, Asuncion is relatively dead as far as cities go. Daily routine and long weeks of work tend to dull those overarching notions of underdevelopment. Until, of course, I leave the country. At which point, the realizations of just how barren Paraguay is come flooding back accompanied perhaps by a small degree of indignance. It’s kind of isolating, actually.

What am I doing in Paraguay?! But that is moot.

I recently embarked on a journey with the Schell’s to explore some Argentine cities just across the border of Paraguay. Although they are significantly lesser cities in the country of tango and beef, it was amazing to see how far even Argentina’s tertiary towns measured above Paraguay’s best. Streets were smoothly paved, buildings were intact, sprawling green parks actually sponsored leisurely play and relaxation, businesses and restaurants blinked bright lights everywhere, and floods of people swarmed the promenades.

As I strolled (as much as one can stroll while wrangling a small but boisterous child from running into the street every two seconds–a glimpse into a life that awaits me?) toward the water with the sun setting ahead of me, I was struck by how very reminiscent of Europe it all was. Memories of the summer I spent in Southern Spain flashed before my eyes in the tangible scenery of what physically lay before me.

The sun melting into a meditative body of water and leaving behind layers of orange, pink, and blue. Checkered plazas perfect for dancing and stone arches providing a romantic backdrop for all the lust swirling around. Familiar feelings of longing to drink in these sights with the one I love, who is somehow still far, far away.

Not so isolating, I guess, because nostalgia makes the world feel small.

[Part 1 and Part 2]

One night, B sent me an email about hanging out. I thought this meant the usual: me swiping him a sandwich at the cafeteria with my extra meal points and then sitting together in my apartment watching terrible television until it was time for him to “go to class.” I consented but was confused when he responded that he was “interested in exploring some new spots in SD” for dinner one night. Was he asking me out on a date?

It looked, smelled, and sounded like a date, but that was never clarified until years later. I guess, technically, it wasn’t supposed to be, but we count it now. I think.

In any case, we ate at an empty raw vegetarian restaurant all the way in Carlsbad where nothing was cooked above 30 degrees. Memorable moments include hearing someone sneeze explosively in the kitchen after we ordered our food (the restaurant has since gone out of business) and me finding significant quantities of brown rice in my hair at one point (awkward).

He paid. He opened doors. And as we drove back to campus, he pointed out my window suddenly and said, “Hey, check out that sunset!” Lo and behold, it was the most perfect purple sunset I had ever seen. B pulled over to the side of the freeway and climbed over a fence. I followed, mortified by the cheese factor and wondering if this had been planned all along (he denies it to this day). We sat on the edge of a cliff and talked life dreams as the sun dipped into the ocean.

Back then, I hoped to book it to Latin America and work with street children after college [author’s note: booyah!]. B wanted to go into investment banking and live in Oregon. Honestly, I was more hung up on the Oregon part than anything else. I was also very much embarrassed by the sappy turn the [pseudo] date had taken (shut up, I was brand-new to the scene). And furthermore, I was reeling from his disclosure that he had already looked at flights to come visit me in Spain, where I was moving in one month’s time to live for a year. Um, weren’t we barely friends? This guy was intense.

Overwhelmed, I ran out of the car and fled to Bible Study the second we got back to campus.

And she was never heard from again. The End.

…jk. Stay tuned.