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.

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

 

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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

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

Great Barrier Reef, Australia (Video)


When my family and I went to Australia in October 2012, we spent a few days in Cairns in the far north of Queensland. One of the highlights was our daytrip to the Great Barrier Reef about an hour off the coast by ship. We went snorkeling and took a submarine ride along part of the reef.

2012_10_26 Australia GBR IMG_0183

Here’s a video clip of the reef on the World Adventurers Channel. The scene reminded me of a scene out of the movie Finding Nemo…or perhaps the other way around. More on Australia soon, but until then enjoy the clip!

Great Barrier Reef, Cairns, Australia

Click here to subscribe to the World Adventurers Channel on YouTube and enjoy more great travel videos.

More About Australia

Visiting Australia

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buythumbM.G. Edwards is a writer of books and stories in the mystery, thriller and science fiction-fantasy genres. He also writes travel adventures. He is author of Kilimanjaro: One Man’s Quest to Go Over the Hill, a non-fiction account of his attempt to summit Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain, and a short story collection called Real Dreams: Thirty Years of Short Stories. He also wrote and illustrated Alexander the Salamander, Ellie the Elephant, and Zoe the Zebra, three books in the World Adventurers for Kids Series, and a 3-in-1 collection featuring all three. His books are available in e-book and print from Amazon.com and other booksellers. Edwards graduated from the University of Washington with a master’s degree in China Studies and a Master of Business Administration. He lives in Bangkok, Thailand with his wife Jing and son Alex.

For more books or stories by M.G. Edwards, visit his web site at www.mgedwards.com or his blog, World Adventurers. Contact him at me@mgedwards.com, on Facebook, on Google+, or @m_g_edwards on Twitter.

© 2014 Brilliance Press. All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted without the written consent of the author.

Carnival in Encarnacion, Paraguay


In honor of the Carnival and Mardi Gras festivals coming soon, here is a video clip from the February 2008 Carnival celebration in Encarnación, Paraguay. If you’re in Paraguay and can’t attend the world-famous Carnival in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, don’t miss its smaller sibling in Encarnación. I think it holds its own as one of the world’s great Carnivals and adds a uniquely Paraguayan flavor to this annual event.

A colorful festival of music and dancing, Carnival is known for its wild, crazy, and sometimes risqué atmosphere. This parade in the Carnival capital of Paraguay was festive and revealing but decidedly tame compared to its reputation. Female and male performers in colorful outfits festooned with feathers and glitter like shimmering peacocks dance to lively chamame polka-style music along a long runway. It’s quite the sight to behold. This video is just a glimpse of what to expect in person. You have to see it for yourself.

2008 Carnival in Encarnacion, Paraguay

Encarnación is located in southeastern Paraguay on the banks of the Paraná River, across from Posadas, Argentina. Paraguay’s third-largest city has a population of about 100,000, and is located just half an hour from one of the country’s most popular tourist attractions, the Jesuit ruins at Trinidad.

Warning:  If you attend Carnival in Encarnación, be prepared to get soaking wet. It’s a participatory event where the spectators douse one another with shaving cream. Leave your aquaphobia and valuables at home and arm yourself with cans of shaving cream to defend yourself from the onslaught. Bring a Carnival mask and join in the fun!

World Adventurers YouTube Channel

Why not subscribe to the World Adventurers Channel on YouTube? I have been posting video clips of great destinations and fun travel moments from elephant polo in Thailand to Iguazu Falls in Argentina and Brazil, and much more. Stay tuned for more great travel videos.

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mge-kili-cover-front-thumbM.G. Edwards is a writer of books and stories in the mystery, thriller and science fiction-fantasy genres. He also writes travel adventures. He is author of Kilimanjaro: One Man’s Quest to Go Over the Hill, a non-fiction account of his attempt to summit Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain, and a short story collection called Real Dreams: Thirty Years of Short Stories. He also wrote and illustrated Alexander the Salamander, Ellie the Elephant, and Zoe the Zebra, three books in the World Adventurers for Kids Series, and a 3-in-1 collection featuring all three. His books are available in e-book and print from Amazon.com and other booksellers. Edwards graduated from the University of Washington with a master’s degree in China Studies and a Master of Business Administration. He lives in Bangkok, Thailand with his wife Jing and son Alex.

For more books or stories by M.G. Edwards, visit his web site at www.mgedwards.com or his blog, World Adventurers. Contact him at me@mgedwards.com, on Facebook, on Google+, or @m_g_edwards on Twitter.

© 2014 Brilliance Press. All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted without the written consent of the author.

World Adventurers for Kids Book Giveaway


WAfK Front Cover (mini)Sign up today for your free autographed copy of my popular children’s picture book, World Adventurers for Kids Books 1-3. Hosted by Goodreads, the giveaway ends on February 5, 2014. Click here to sign up. I’ll contact the winners after the giveaway ends. Good luck!

This 3-in-1 collection has been popular with children and parents around the world. It includes the first three picture books in the World Adventurers for Kids Series: Alexander the Salamander, Ellie the Elephant, and Zoe the Zebra. The book is available both in print and e-book formats from many booksellers.

The World Adventurers for Kids Series features illustrated adventure stories told in a way that children ages four to eight will find entertaining and educational. Filled with illustrated photos and moral tales, they will take children around the world in story books designed to read in one sitting.

Alexander the Salamander discusses the importance of listening to authority figures. A young salamander named Alexander joins his friends Airey the Butterfly and Terry the Tarantula for an unforgettable adventure in the Amazon River Basin.

Ellie the Elephant encourages children to follow their dreams. A young elephant named Ellie living in Thailand dreams of joining the elephant polo team and playing in the Elephant Cup polo tournament, but her parents want her to work in the rice fields. Will she realize her dream of playing elephant polo?

Zoe the Zebra teaches children about bullying. A young zebra named Zoe who lives in the African bush joins forces with her friends Emma the Impala, Barry the Baboon, and other animals to protect their friend Wally the Warthog from a pack of bullying hyenas. Can they help him and stop the bullying?

WAfK 3 Covers (small)

All the books in the World Adventurers for Kids Series are available to purchase in print or e-book format from many booksellers listed below.

E-book Version

World Adventurers for Kids Books 1-3 is now available to purchase as an ebook for only $2.99 (or equivalent in other currencies) from these booksellers:

Amazon.com for Kindle ($2.99)

Amazon UK for Kindle (£2,03)

Amazon Canada for Kindle ($3.05)

Amazon Germany for Kindle (€2,68)

Amazon France for Kindle (€2,68)

Amazon India for Kindle (R177.00)

Amazon Italy for Kindle (€2,68)

Amazon Spain for Kindle (€2,68)

Amazon Brazil for Kindle (R$6,67)

Amazon Japan for Kindle (¥296)

Apple iTunes ($2.99)

Barnes & Noble for Nook ($2.99)

Barnes & Noble UK for Nook (£1,91)

Diesel eBook Store for multiple e-readers ($2.99)

Kobo Books for Kobo Reader ($2.99) (available in Australia and other countries)

Sony ReaderStore for Sony e-reader ($2.99)

Smashwords for multiple e-readers ($2.99)

Print Version

World Adventurers for Kids Books 1-3 is now available in print for $12.55 (or equivalent in other currencies) from these booksellers:

Amazon.com ($12.55)

Amazon UK (£11,89)

Amazon Canada ($19.87)

Amazon Germany (€15,56)

Amazon France (€14,78)

Amazon Italy (€14,97)

Amazon Spain (€14,36)

Createspace ($14.99)

IndieBound ($18.99)

Powell’s Books ($15.50)

Visit the book’s web page for a full list of booksellers.

Sign Up for your Free copy of

World Adventurers for Kids Books 1-3 today!

WAfK Front Cover (small)

M.G. Edwards is a writer of books and stories in the mystery, thriller and science fiction-fantasy genres. He also writes travel adventures. He is author of Kilimanjaro: One Man’s Quest to Go Over the Hill, a non-fiction account of his attempt to summit Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain, and a short story collection called Real Dreams: Thirty Years of Short Stories. He also wrote and illustrated Alexander the Salamander, Ellie the Elephant, and Zoe the Zebra, three books in the World Adventurers for Kids Series, and a 3-in-1 collection featuring all three. His books are available in e-book and print from Amazon.com and other booksellers. Edwards graduated from the University of Washington with a master’s degree in China Studies and a Master of Business Administration. He lives in Bangkok, Thailand with his wife Jing and son Alex.

For more books or stories by M.G. Edwards, visit his web site at www.mgedwards.com or his blog, World Adventurers. Contact him at me@mgedwards.com, on Facebook, on Google+, or @m_g_edwards on Twitter.

© 2014 Brilliance Press. All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted without the written consent of the author.

2013 in Review and 200,000 Hits


With this blog approaching 200,000 hits since its relaunch in August 2011, it’s a good time to publish World Adventurers‘ stats for last year. All in all, not a shabby year for me considering that my blogging was not as consistent as it was before. I needed more time to work on new material for upcoming books I will publish in 2014. This, I hope, will be the first of many new posts in 2014 and push this blog over 300,000 hits. As always, Dear Reader, thanks for visiting World Adventurers and for your continued support.

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared the 2013 World Adventurers annual report.

Here’s an excerpt:

The Louvre Museum has 8.5 million visitors per year. This blog was viewed about 120,000 times in 2013. If it were an exhibit at the Louvre Museum, it would take about 5 days for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.