Trans-Chaco Highway is one of the most famous roads in South America. It was inaugurated in 1961. After decades of notoriety as one of the worst roads in South America, where cars and buses could get stuck for days on end, especially in the mud during the rainy season. The road was completely paved in 2007. However, the asphalt layer was so thin, that within a year cracks and deep potholes were visible again. The road is almost straight, but there are never ending potholes. Don’t drive on the highway at night if you’ve never driven on it before. Climatic conditions are harsh, there is little traffic and almost no population on route, hence no assistance case of a breakdown (Source: https://www.dangerousroads.org/south-america/paraguay/5253-trans-chaco-highway.html).
It started like this…
Driving towards Filadelfia… the potholes started to show up!
Getting to Filadelfia in the heart of the Mennonites in Paraguay
Mennonite settlers came to Paraguay from Germany, Canada, Russia and other countries for a number of reasons: religious freedom, the chance to practice their beliefs without hindrance, the quest for land. Although German immigrants had settled in Paraguay before the turn of the 20th century, it wasn’t until the 1920’s and 30s that many, many more arrived. Many of the immigrants from Russia were fleeing from the ravages of the Bolshevik Revolution and the later Stalin repressions. They traveled to Germany and to other countries and eventually joined the emigration to Paraguay. Paraguay welcomed the immigrants. Recognized as the center of the Mennonitenkolonie, Filadelfia is considered the largest and most typical Mennonite community in Paraguay and the growing center of local tourism (Source: https://www.tripsavvy.com/mennonites-in-paraguay-1635502).
You really se the German influence on the street signs, and every house has a number (“ordnung muss sign”)
Most of Paraguay’s population had settled on the eastern portion of the country, east of the River Paraguay, leaving the vast Chaco almost uninhabited. To populate this region of thorn forests, ponds, and marshes, and bolster both the economy and the dwindling population, Paraguay agreed to allow Mennonite settlements. The Mennonites had the reputation of being excellent farmers, hard-workers, and disciplined in their habits. In return for religious freedom, exemption from military service, the right to speak German in schools and elsewhere, the right to administer their own educational, medical, social organizations and financial institutions, the Mennonites agreed to colonize an area thought to be inhospitable and unproductive due to the lack of water.Three main waves of immigration arrived:
- a Canadian group from Manitoba founded the Menno colony in 1926-1927
- a group from the Ukraine and the area of the Amour river came via China and created the Fernheim colony in 1930, which founded Filadelfia in 1932 today
- a group of Russian refugees founded the Neuland colony in 1947
We settled down here, and made a drink of fresh grape juice, ice cubes and Tres Leones (recommended by our friends Carlos)
Making dinner: mashed potatoes, ground beef patty and brown gravy. It was really good, but not as good as our dinner with Beatriz in Mallorquin
The next day we visited the local supermarket where you can buy a lot of the local products. We especially recommend buying peanut butter, bread and their homemade marmalade. Well we were back on the road the next day.
The further we got, the more the asphalt started to deteriorate, and everybody wanted to avoid the potholes
The holes just got bigger and bigger
At the same time it also got more and more dusty
Stopped at one of the few gas stations to fill up gas, but also to clean the front windshield. Not only was it dusty outside, but the dust was also getting into the van.
Back on the road and back in the dust – or sometimes it was actually easier to drive next to the road
We finally made it the last intersection, where a small village is located “La Patria”, this is also the last change for filling up gasoline before the border into Bolivia. La Patria is a stopover for almost everybody, no matter if you are driving one way or the other. Lance was getting really tired of all the dust.
There was more garbage around Lance, than in the garbage bins
Literally out in nowhere, and in the middle a homeless dog, two children playing in the garbage and we spot a Danish truck “Danske Fragtmænd”. We don’t know how the truck ended up in a place like this, but we sure did think about it.
Talking a walk on the road, that is gonna take us to Bolivia tomorrow