The Mennonites of Paraguay (with Photos)


Click here to read the original article on MG Edwards. Visit MG Edwards for more great travelogues, photos, and videos from around the world.

This is the full version of the original article.The third in a series on Paraguay’s Chaco region features the local Mennonite communities. The first focused on Filadelfia, the area’s largest town, and the second on the rural Chaco. The final post highlighted the local indigenous community. Enjoy photos and stories from one of Paraguay’s most intriguing places.

Paraguay’s remote western region, the Chaco, boasts a diverse mix of Mennonite, Spanish, Brazilian, and indigenous Guarani influences. The approximately 60,000 to 80,000 Mennonites in Paraguay who live in large communities, or “colonies,” dominate the local culture. Its distinctly German flavor was introduced to the country by Russian Mennonites of Germanic descent who emigrated from the former Soviet Union in the late 1920s and early 1930s to avoid persecution under Stalinism. Other Mennonite communities migrated to Paraguay between 1929 and 1932 from Canada, Germany, and the United States. The Fernheim, Menno, and Neuland colonies settled near present-day Filadelfia in 1930, and have since grown to more than 10,000 members. Most are farmers with large ranches (estancias) that produce a variety of agricultural products, including beef, dairy products, and other foodstuffs.

2008_08_31 Paraguay Mennonites (3)

2008_08_31 Paraguay Mennonites (8)

The Mennonites’ arrival in the Chaco coincided with the rise in tensions between Paraguay and its neighbor, Bolivia. Eager to solidify the country’s hold on the sparsely populated region, the Paraguayan government granted in the 1930s large parcels of Chaco land to the Mennonites on the condition that they establish a permanent presence there. The Bolivians, who coveted the Chaco for oil-producing potential that never materialized, invaded it in 1932 and fought the three-year Chaco War with Paraguay. More than 80,000 Bolivians and 50,000 Paraguayans died in the conflict that ended with Bolivia’s defeat. Although the pacifist Mennonites did not fight, the food they cultivated kept the Paraguayan troops fed.

2008_08_31 Paraguay Chaco (15)

2008_08_31 Paraguay Chaco (16)

The Mennonites struggled to survive in the 1930s and 1940s. An inhospitable, semiarid environment with little rainfall and poor soil made life difficult for the early settlers as they domesticated the land. Travel overland to Paraguay’s capital, Asunción, before the construction of the Trans-Chaco Highway in the late 1950s, was an odyssey that left the remote colonies isolated from the outside world. Indigenous groups such as the Guarani resisted encroachment by their new neighbors and fought occasional skirmishes with the settlers. The Mennonites and the indigenous learned to co-exist peacefully, and many indigenous now work for the colonies. After years of toil, the Mennonites transformed the area into one of the country’s most productive agricultural regions.

2008_08_31 Paraguay Mennonites (1)

The Mennonite’s cooperatives (cooperativas) are among Paraguay’s largest enterprises. Closely affiliated with the local Mennonite Church, they manage the colonies’ commercial interests. Their operations and logistics networks are brilliantly efficient. They provide farmers with enriched animal feed, transport raw milk from farms to dairy plants, transform milk into dairy products, process foodstuffs, and ship finished goods to market on gravel roads that they maintain. The cooperatives also operate service businesses, including hotels, restaurants, gas stations, hospitals, clinics, pharmacies, and shopping centers that cater to the Mennonite communities. Fernheim Colony’s cooperative, the country’s best known, also runs an experimental farm that incubates and crossbreeds cash crops capable of the surviving in the Chaco. The power and influence of the cooperatives is astounding, although one would not know it at first glance. The low-profile associations are opaque operations whose sole purpose is to serve the Mennonites.

2008_08_31 Paraguay Mennonites (4)

2008_08_31 Paraguay Mennonites (6)

2008_08_31 Paraguay Mennonites (7)

2008_08_31 Paraguay Mennonites (5)

The Mennonite culture emphasizes hard work, a simple life, and strict adherence to its religious beliefs. Unlike their Amish cousins, Mennonites embrace the use of technology when it improves their productivity, and they dress in plain, functional clothing. Most men wear short-sleeve cotton shirts and khaki pants or jeans; women usually wear dresses to church and pants on the farm. Most marry within the community, while those who marry non-Mennonites tend to leave the colony. As a result, offspring tend to look Germanic than Hispanic, indigenous, or mixed. It is common to see someone with blond hair and blue eyes walking around Filadelfia. Mennonites also prefer to speak Plattdeutsch, an old variant of Low German, to Spanish or Guaraní, Paraguay’s official languages. It’s easy for those who visit the Chaco to see the cultural divide between the Mennonites and non-Mennonites. While many indigenous and Brasiguayos, or Brazilian migrants living in Paraguay, work with the Mennonites on the estancias, they tend to live separately. Mennonites and other groups seem to frequent restaurants, stores, and services that caters to one or the other. Mennonite activities tend to focus on the church, while non-Mennonites enjoy pastimes such as soccer (fútbol) and public gatherings such as barbeques (asados). This tendency is reinforced more by tradition and preference than overt discrimination.

2008_08_31 Paraguay Mennonites (2)

2008_08_31 Paraguay Mennonites

A visit to the Chaco is worth the opportunity to catch a glimpse of the Mennonite culture set against a backdrop of the “Wild West” of South America. It’s a remarkable journey back in time to a simpler age.

2008_08_31 Paraguay Mennonites (9)

2008_08_31 Paraguay Mennonites (10)

Special thanks to Juliette Wade for hosting the original post on her blog, TalkToYoUniverse as part of the Writers’ International Cultural Share. I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to participate in this great forum where writers can share their cultural experiences and insights from around the world.

Thoughts & Sayings (April 2014)


Here are some thoughts and sayings I posted on Twitter and/or Facebook in February and March. To my knowledge, I made these up (for better or for worse). Sit back, relax, and enjoy the write!

Click here to read the original article on MG Edwards. Visit MG Edwards for more great travelogues, photos, and video from around the world.

Encouraging Words

1. You only live once. Use it wisely.

life

2. One’s misunderstanding is another’s failure to communicate.

communicate

Twisted Words

3. I’m the real deal. You can have me at a discount.

discount

4. A broken record gets tired of being played over and over.

record

In Its Own Write

5. I’m always inspired to write when someone else is doing it.

writing

Holidays & Events

6. Dive into the March Madness pool, but don’t forget to tread water.

pool

7. Can I borrow some green? I’m in a pinch.

green

8. Merchandising in the air.

merchandising

Random Musings

9. I dream of things that I never knew were on my mind.

dream

Click here to visit the Thoughts & Sayings page, or click here to read the previous batch of Thoughts & Sayings.

Straight from the Headlines


RFN

rfnheadlineReal Funny News (RFN) and the “Straight from the Headlines” feature launched in 2005 as an April Fool’s Day joke. RFN is a fictional news network that publishes fake “Straight from the Headline” news reports. It puts its own thought-provoking twist on current events from around the world in order to elicit laughter. Articles appear once a year on an auspicious day when readers might be fooled into believing that they’re actual news stories. With its own take on the news, RFN fits right in with the mainstream media.

Visit RFN for all the latest news and information affecting your world.

RFNslogan

Disclaimer:  These articles are works of satirical fiction. Although they may reference real names and places, any resemblance to the truth is coincidental. References to actual public figures are fictitious.

Click here to read the original article on MG Edwards. Visit MG Edwards for more great travelogues, photos, and video from around the world.

Straight from the Headlines: Sakhalin and Kurils Secede from Russia


Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, Russia (RFN) – The Russian Far East islands of the Kurils and Sakhalin voted to secede from Russia and rejoin Japan.

An overwhelming majority in the Russian Far East federal subject of Sakhalin Oblast, better known as the Kurils and Sakhalin, voted today in a controversial election to leave the Russian Federation and rejoin Japan. Exit polls indicated that 99 percent of voters favored secession from Russia and annexation by Japan, which had governed the islands from 1807 until the end of World War II. The referendum called “hasty” and “illegitimate” by critics was held ten days after former Sakhalin Oblast governor Alexander Khoroshavin and his top aides fled to Moscow following a period of political unrest in the islands’ capital, Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk.

Russia Red SquareThe Sakhalin Oblast government led by interim governor Shigeru Kayano defended the vote as free and fair. “The will of the people is to rejoin the Motherland, Japan. The Russians are constantly trying to drive us into a corner because we have an independent position, because we maintain it, and because we tell it like it is and don’t engage in hypocrisy. But there is a limit to everything. Russia has crossed the line, playing the bear and acting irresponsibly and unprofessionally.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin and critics called the referendum a “sham” and a violation of international law. Election monitors banned from Sakhalin indicated that a large number of foreign workers in the local oil and gas industry were seen at polling stations. Some observers accused the interim Sakhalin government of preventing Russian voters from going to the polls and refusing to give voters the option to remain a part of the Russian Federation instead of independence or annexation by Japan.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe denied his country’s involvement in Sakhalin’s move to return to Japan. The Japanese Diet is expected to approve the annexation, and Abe is scheduled to deliver a speech to the parliamentary body on the matter.

Putin decried the movement of ships in the U.S. Pacific Fleet off the coast of Sakhalin as a “dangerous escalation” to enforce the handover. U.S. President Barack Obama denied the claim and stated that the American fleet had been coincidentally carrying out pre-planned military drills in the Sea of Okhotsk. Putin warned that the moves could draw sanctions or a stronger response from Russia.

Before the March 21 disappearance of Khoroshavin and his $2 million Horch 855 Spezial Roadster, the Sakhalin Oblast government had been under pressure from foreign workers and indigenous minorities to ease up on “anti-non-Russian” political restrictions. After thousands of Ainu, Oroks and Nivkhs and foreign workers in the Sakhalin oil and gas industry took to the streets of Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk in early March, violence erupted when pro-Russian forces tried unsuccessfully to dislodge the protesters occupying Lenin Square. Interim governor Kayano chided the Russian government for what he called “heavy-handed tactics” and stated that “Russia pressed the spring too hard, and it snapped back.”

Map picture

ACLU Seeks an End to April Fool’s Day

Los Angeles (RFN) – The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), citing possible civil rights violations on April Fool’s Day, set up a hotline to help end the practice of perpetrating practical jokes on unsuspecting fools the first day in April. The ACLU asks those who are potential victims of April Fool’s Day pranks to contact the April Fool’s hotline at their earliest convenience. The ACLU will prepare cases for eligible claims in an effort to combat this offensive practice. If you believe you have wrongly duped by an April Fool’s Day joke or prank and seek redress, contact the ACLU at 968-3665 (YOU-FOOL).

Visit RFN for all the latest news and information affecting your world.

RFN – We report.

You deal with it.

Click here to read the original article on MG Edwards. Visit MG Edwards for more great travelogues, photos, and video from around the world.

Paraguay


Click here to read the original article on MG Edwards. Visit MG Edwards for more great travelogues, photos, and video from around the world.

“An island surrounded on all sides by land” is how Paraguayan author Augusto Roa Bastos described his homeland. A small, landlocked country in the heart of South America, Paraguay has had a rich and tumultuous history since its independence in 1811. The country lost half its territory during the 1865-70 War of the Triple Alliance against Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay. However, it won back part of its dry, western half, the Chaco, when U.S. President Rutherford B. Hayes mediated a dispute over the territory and ruled against Argentina in 1878. Paraguay also held on to a large swath of the Gran Chaco by turning back Bolivia in the 1932-35 Chaco War. Known for long periods of isolation under presidents Dr. José Gaspar Rodríguez de Francia y Velasco (1814-40) and Alfredo Stroessner (1954-89), Paraguay earned a reclusive reputation. In recent decades, however, the country has emerged from a half century of dictatorial rule and become more open to visitors. Hindered by a nascent tourist industry and dearth of obvious must-see attractions, Paraguay is easy to overlook. A visit can be rewarding to those who venture off the beaten path to enjoy its beauty, rich mixed indigenous Guaraní and Hispanic heritage, and warm reception from some of the most wonderful people you’ll meet in South America.

More About Paraguay

2008_07 Paraguay National Palace

2008_11_28 Paraguay Caacupe

2008_08_31 Paraguay Chaco

2008_01 Paraguay Itaipu Dam

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Perito Moreno Glacier, Argentina (Video)


Click here to read the original article on MG Edwards. Visit MG Edwards for more great travelogues, photos, and video from around the world.

Perito Moreno Glacier in Los Glacieres National Park, Argentina is one of the most stunning ice flows in the world. It is one of 48 glaciers fed by the Southern Patagonian Ice Field covering a large portion of the Andes Mountains between Argentina and Chile in South America. Located in the Patagonia region and Santa Cruz Province near the Chilean border, Perito Moreno is popular with tourists because of its incredible, in-your-face ice falls and ruptures that happen just a few hundred meters away, yet oh-so-close. It’s one of the few road-and wheelchair- accessible glaciers, making it easy for tourists to visit on a day trip from the nearby town of El Calafate. Because of its sheer size and pristine white and blue ice fed by one of the world’s few growing ice fields, the massive flow offers sweeping panoramic views unlike any other glacier on earth.

2009_02_09 Argentina Perito Moreno IMG_6210 (small)

This video clip taken in 2009 features stunning footage of Perito Moreno and pieces of ice calving, or breaking off, from the glacier in spectacular fashion. There are also voice overs and a scene with my young son that you might enjoy. The warm, sunny day was ideal to view the glacier and watch the ice calving unfold.

Perito Moreno Glacier, Argentina

 

Map picture

Click here to read the original article on MG Edwards. Visit MG Edwards for more great travelogues, photos, and video from around the world.

Brazil


South America’s largest country defies easy description. From the Andes Mountains to the Atlantic Ocean and the Amazon River Basin to the steppes of the Mato Grasso and beyond, Brazil encompasses a staggering 43 percent of South America’s land mass. In addition to being the world’s fifth largest country by size, it is also one of the continent’s most diverse lands. Brazil is a cultural amalgamation of indigenous roots and western influences. The former Portuguese colony has developed a unique culture shaped by native tribes and thousands of immigrants from Germany, Italy, Japan, Korea, and elsewhere.  One of the world’s most important emerging markets with a dynamic, growing economy, Brazil has taken center stage in the sporting world as host of the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Summer Olympics. A short visit will only give you a taste of what this amazing place has to offer and leave you thirsting for more of its unique vibe.

More About Brazil

2008_07_17 Brazil Amazon River

2008_07_23 Brazil Rio de Janeiro IMG_4208

2008_01_19 Brazil Iguazu

2008_07_23 Brazil Rio Corcovado IMG_4155

Cross-posted from MGEdwards.com. Visit MGEdwards for more great travelogues, photos, and video from around the world.

Videos


MG Edwards and the World Adventurers Channel on YouTube feature travel videos from around the world.

World Adventurers YouTube Channel

Articles with Videos on MG Edwards

World Adventurers Channel

 

Here are some of the more popular travel videos:

Traditional Paraguayan Dance
Traditional Paraguayan Dance

A dance in Paraguarí, Paraguay. The mixture of traditional dresses, music dominated by the harp and guitar, and songs in Guarani, an indigenous language, are mesmerizing.
Iguazu Falls
Iguazu Falls from Argentina and Brazil

Three different views of one of the world’s largest and most spectacular waterfalls located on the border between Argentina and Brazil.

2012 Chinese New Year
2012 Chinese New Year

Fireworks in Shanghai, China at midnight in January 2012, to celebrate the Chinese New Year, the Year of the Dragon.

 

Click here to subscribe to the World Adventurers YouTube Channel

Cross-posted from MGEdwards.com. Visit MGEdwards for more great travelogues, photos, and video from around the world.

Cambodia


Cambodia is a land of contrasts. From the majesty of the former Khmer Empire showcased by the legendary city of Angkor to the country’s recent history under the Khmer Rouge still echoing in the Killing Fields, Cambodia is a mixture of triumph and tragedy. The country has emerged from the dark shadows of the past and is rapidly developing into a modern, vibrant society that stands side by side with magnificent edifices and artifacts. Few visitors to Cambodia leave without being somehow touched by the warmth of the Cambodian people, its rich culture and history, and stories laced with sobering realities. Its diverse land stretches from pristine beaches and wetlands along the Gulf of Thailand to the rolling Cardamom and Annamite mountains. Nestled in between is one of Southeast Asia’s largest wildernesses. Those looking for a fun, fascinating and unforgettable journey should spend time in Cambodia.

More About Cambodia

Top Ten Things to Do on Holiday in Cambodia

Heading to the Coast (National Highway 4)

Driving the Coast (National Highway 48)

The Cambodian Wilderness

Koh Kong

2012_12_26 Cambodia Angkor Wat

2012_12_30 Cambodia Silver Pagoda

2012_12_26 Cambodia Angkor Horizon

2012_12_31 Cambodia Tatai River

Map picture

Cross-posted from MGEdwards. Visit MGEdwards for more great travelogues, photos, and video from around the world.

New Zealand


New Zealand, or Aotearoa in the Maori language, is a place of incredible beauty. Like a string of pearls, its two main islands, the North Island (Te Ika-a-Māui in Maori) and South Island (Te Waipounamu) are surrounded by braids of smaller islands that extend for thousands of miles. Forged by an age-old clash between the Pacific and Indo-Australian tectonic plates of the earth’s crust, New Zealand has unique geographical features found nowhere else in the world yet may remind visitors of familiar locales because of the human hands that sculpted the land into what it is today. Isolated, New Zealand might seem like it’s at the end of the world, isolated in the southern Pacific Ocean and hours away by plane from its closest neighbors. Yet the country is close to home with a diverse society and a multi-cultural heritage influenced not only by the native Maori and the British who once ruled New Zealand but by everyone who has been there, from seafarers and immigrants to tourists. Kiwis, as the New Zealanders call themselves, are fortunate to live in one of the most beautiful places on earth.

More New Zealand travelogues, photos and videos are coming soon.

Hobbiton on New Zealand’s North Island

2013_12 New Zealand Hobbiton IMG_2174

A geyser at sunset in Rotorua on New Zealand’s North Island

2013_12 New Zealand Rotorua IMG_2259

Aoraki / Mt. Cook on New Zealand’s South Island

2013_12 New Zealand Mt Cook IMG_6470

Punakaiki / Pancake Rocks on New Zealand’s South Island

2013_12 New Zealand Paparoa IMG_3923

Cross-posted from MGEdwards.com. Visit MGEdwards for more great travelogues, photos, and video from around the world.