Had to switch the journal map from Ecuador/Peru/Bolivia because Paraguay (and the other three) were depicted together in only the South America map. I'll switch back to the smaller map when we arrive to Ecuador. Decided to stay in Asuncion for a few days and visit a couple nearby sites, but mostly just relax.
Clearing Immigration was a hassle as regards paying the $160 visa fee. Had been warned that paying the $160 visa fee for Bolivia required crisp new U.S. currency, but upon arrival discovered that Mastercard & Visa were also accepted; and so paid by credit card. Paraguay did not accept payment by credit card; only CRISP, NEW, UNMARKED/BLEMISHED IN ANY WAY U.S. currency. The two guys at the visa window (you pay before passing thru Immigration) rejected five of the $50 bills, six of the $20's and six of the $10's I presented for payment ? All of these bills had been gotten from the bank in Austin, and I had specifically requested & inspected them to be in clean, crisp unmarked condition. Or so I thought ! All those bills rejected had blemishes you damn near required a magnifying glass to find, and/or were marks I thought were integral to the fiber of the paper. Absolutely ridiculous. Especially when you consider the condition of the Paraguayuan currency you receive during transactions; evidentally the local currency requires an extended residency in a streetside gutter &/or toilet before being fit for circulation. Even a bank (later in the week) rejected numerous bills for exchange such that I finally, in disgust, exchanged none, left the bank, and vowed to spend no money in Paraguay unless via a credit card charge.
The downtown of this national capital is dismal. Dilapidated ruins of buildings from the late 19th/early 20th century, litter everywhere, crumbling sidewalks, and a population not looking very pleased with their situation in life. Such a shame for a city with a storied past. Outside of the old city center are more modern & clean neighborhoods.
Asuncion was the center of the Spanish 16th & 17th century empire in Central & Southern South America; via the Rio Plata basin. An 1860's war with Brasil, Uruguay & Argentina was disastrous; some accounts estimate that battle and associated casualties amounted to 2/3rd's of the Paraguay population. There was a brief, but short-lived, recovery in the late 19th & early 20th centuries.
In the airline magazine flying from Bolivia we saw an article about Cerro Koi in the town of Aregua, ~40 km from Asuncion. We discussed getting there with our Uber driver, Nestor. He suggested we spend a day seeing Cerro and Lake Ypacarai, and he would be our driver/guide.
Cerro Koi is a hexagonal (or octagonal, depending on which source you read) sandstone geological formation the type of which is found in only two other countries of the world; Canada & South Africa. The site was mined for cobblestones until declared a national natural monument, and park, in 1993. The stone formations look like petrified stacks of lumber, or a cross-section of a prehistoric giant dinosaur-sized bee hive.
Lake Ypacarai is one of the two largest lakes in Paraguay, but unfortunately is so polluted that the government has banned access to the water ! During our walks around Cerro Koi, the lake, and the Botanical Gardens outside of Asuncion we did see numerous bird species, and I believe Lidia added 2 or 3 to her 'life list'. The 4-5 hour walk around the Botanical Garden was relaxing & enjoyable.
Onwards to Guayaquil, Ecuador.
Ciao for now.