When I was in junior high school, I lived a double life. During the week, I was a normal student, but on weekends I was a Boy Scout. I hope there aren´t too many of you out there with pictures of me in olive green knee socks, neckerchief, and merit badge sash, but the awesome part of scouting was that we went camping all the time. I´ve too few opportunities lately, so this trip to Ybycuí National Park in Paraguay was a great chance to introduce Ravi to the Great Outdoors!
We arrived Saturday morning on a crowded public bus. Soon enough we had out tent up, ate lunch, and realized that Paraguayan mosquitos consider insect repellent more of a challenge than a deterrent. I think Ravi was already deciding never to camp with me again!
Some of Ybycuí´s insects, however, are rather beautiful. Ybycuí is known for it´s butterflies, and the park did not disappoint. I don´t think I´ve ever seen more butterflies in one place, even in the butterfly room at the Nature Museum in Chicago, and I´ve certainly never seen a metallic blue, bright green, or hot orange butterfly before. They were thankfully at least as numerous as the mosquitos!
Then, Ravi and I collected wood to build a campfire. Ravi´s a good cook, but he´s never used a wood fire before. I channelled my inner Boy Scout, built a cook fire, and got dinner started. While Ravi and I finished dinner, however, a giant youth group arrived and decided to be our neighbors. Ravi convinced me that we should probably move camp somewhere more tranquil, and after I saw yet another bus of youngish teens arrive, Ravi and I started pulling up the tent.
After a peaceful night´s sleep away from our young friends, Ravi and I made breakfast (more wood, more fire), slathered on more repellent, and hiked around the park. We visited a set of small waterfalls and explored a bit of the forest. Butterflies and mosquitos everywhere, and even an occasional giant lizard. My Arizona friends could imagine something the size of a Gila monster, double the size, and take away all the color. I like reptiles, but I can imagine a few people I know who wouldn´t want to see one of these up close! Ravi claims to have seen a lizard even bigger than the one I saw!
Next, we settled into a nice dinner and an early bedtime. The next morning, we caught a ride with the park ranger to the bus station and found a bus to Ciudad del Este. I loved being outdoors for a couple of days, and I hope we get to explore more of the National Parks in the US, but most importantly, Ravi and I got some much needed outdoor practice before we hit some other major forests and deserts in Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego!