Last week we took the bus to Pilar in the southwest of Paraguay to visit current Peace Corps Volunteers (PCVs) in site to get an idea of what service would be like.
A few examples of what we did while we were in town:
- Interviewed a Paraguayan nurse about the health system
- Conducted a business survey in some downtown shops
- Visited the Pilar city hall (municipalidad)
- Observed an English class in a volunteer’s house
- Visited the local university
Pilar photo essay
If you’re curious what a mid-sized border town in Paraguay looks like…
We arrived after a five and half hour bus ride. A bunch of current volunteers were waiting for us and took us on a tour of town, starting with a few empanadas and a stroll by the river.
Pilar is a medium-sized town surrounded by campo. It sports a few factories.
As is typical, the center of town boasts a catholic church.
“The old town council building in Pilar is where…Francisco Solano López is believed to have uttered a now famous phrase in defiance against combatants in the costly…[Triple Alliance] War: ‘Never shall the sacred insignia of my country fall from my hands.‘ ”
Paraguay lost 60% of its population and 90% of its men in that conflict. It’s a sensitive topic that we’ll save for another post.
The streets of Pilar around sunset. Scooters, or motos, are the vehicle of choice.
That evening we tried lomito: beef loin with veggies and garlic sauce in a crispy wrap. Think shawarma burrito. Bad pic, but super tasty.
The morning after the lomito, we went on a badly needed jog on the riverfront at sunrise.
After a day of activities, Angela cooked dinner with our health volunteer host. We discovered cooking is pretty much the only way to get “healthier” food in Paraguay.
Another run, this time in the country while chasing a horse-drawn cart.
During the afternoon we trailed our community economic development volunteer host as he worked on his business survey.
Afterwards, we had a little happy hour at the plaza.
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Pilar had some great sunsets.
On our last evening in Pilar we dined with our volunteer hosts, their Paraguayan friends, and our fellow aspirantes at Mister Combi.
Overall, a good trip and useful glimpse of volunteer life in a mid-sized town.