Ruins at Trinidad, Paraguay (lett)
List 01 June

5 things you didn’t know about Paraguay

From big cats to feather headdresses, here are 5 top facts about Paraguay you may not know

1. Paraguay is a land of cowboys and Indians

Cowboys in big sombreros ride bucking broncos at local fiestas: try the January festivals in Santiago. Indians in feather headdresses sit outside the Panteón in Asunción; visit their reserve by the Puente Remanso bridge.

2. Paraguay’s tablecloths take 18 months to make

To singlehandedly craft one of Paraguay’s intricate ao po’i lace tablecloths takes a year and a half. See locals at work in delightful Yataitý.

3. The Guaraní language has 12 vowels

Nearly all Paraguayans are bilingual, speaking Spanish and indigenous Guaraní. To try the unique nasalised ‘y’ of Guaraní, wrinkle up your nose like a local or take a class at Asunción’s Idipar school.

4. Paraguay has America’s biggest feline

Paraguay’s jaguars grow up to 1.85m. This handsome beast can be seen in the Atinguý refuge or in Asunción’s Jardín Zoológico.

5. Paraguay has green gold

Colonisers expelled Jesuits from Paraguay, believing they’d hidden gold in their missionary towns. But they found only ‘green gold’ – the yerba mate tree, used for tea. Visit the evocative ruins of Trinidad, one of 30 towns destroyed by gold hunters’ greed.

Written by Margaret Hebblethwaite, author of the Bradt Guide to Paraguay

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