Vamos Al Campo: Luque, Aregua, Lago Ypacararí and A Visit To The Maestro's House
Colorful wood carvings on display in the artsy-craftsy town of Aregua
On Sunday, February 14th, we decided to rent a car and drive out to some of the towns we used to like to escape to for a diversion from living in Asuncion. If Asuncion was sleepy back in those days, these towns would have been comatose. Not so in 2016. We found Luque, once a small village, to be a busy suburb of Asuncion; Aregua had become a Paraguayan version of an artsy tourist town; and San Bernardino an upscale resort town for Asuncion's elite. While in San Bernardino, we were the guests of one of my former American School students Renato Bellucci, which was certainly the highlight of our day in the campo.
In the central plaza of Luque I found a meeting of the local scout group in session.
I found this local office of the Colorodo Party in Luque. It was the party of former dictator Alfredo Stroessner and is, as well, party of the current President Horacio Cartes and as such, has always been a dominant force in Paraguayan politics.
One of the many jewelry craftsmen of Luque, which is known for its handmade silver and gold filigree jewelry.
The iglesia, Virgen de la Candelaria, occupies a hilltop overlooking the quaint artisan's town of Aregua on the west shore of Lago Ypacarai, Paraguay's largest lake about 15 miles east of the Asuncion.
The historic center of Aregua is known for its stately old homes from the turn of the nineteenth century. Some have been restored...
while some remain in the state that I remember them to be in the '70s.
Regardless of their condition, they give the visitor to Aregua a sense of being in a Gabriel Garcia Marquez novel.
This is one of Aregua's most unique architectural landmarks, the Castillo Carlota Palmerola, which was built by an Italian Immigrant family in the nineteenth century but is currently used as a convent.
This is an image I made of the same building back in the late '70s. It always had a mysterious aura to it as I can't recall ever seeing a person there.
Aregua is also known for its artists and artisans.
Ceramics have always been the traditional craft of Aregua.
Paraguay's legendary Lago Ypacarai is immortalized in one of Paraguay's most famous folk songs, "Recuerdos del Ypacarai." This is a view from a hill in San Bernadino.
One of the highlights of our visit to Paraguay was to be invited to the house of one of my former American School students, Renato Bellucci. Renato is a professional classical guitar musician, a teacher and maker of the world famous Bellucci concert guitars. You can check them out at his website and also sign up for his brilliant on-line classical guitar tutorials: http://www.mangore.com
Renato explains the art of creating a one-of-a-kind handmade concert guitar.
Renato explains that each guitar has its own unique sound that gets better with age. Each Bellucci guitar also comes with its own handmade leather case.
This is Renato as a 10th grader at the American School of Asuncion performing in a talent show sometime in 1979. He was a very impressive guitarist then and went on to a professional career. It was very moving for me to hear the maestro perform thirty-seven years later!
The end of a memorable afternoon spent with Renato.. From left is Diana's husband Peter, Bryna, Shelley, me, and another former ASA student Diana, Renato and his lovely wife Belen. Thanks to Renato's daughter for making this wonderful group shot of us.
I love to see the old photos from 40 years ago in the new collection - for comparison and remembrance.
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