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We were not sure what to expect for our first Easter in Paraguay. The Holy Week is known as  Santa Semana. The week began with Palm Sunday. There were beautiful woven sheafs of palm carried by all the parishioners exiting church. Easter eggs which were already in the shops in pretty pergolas as you entered were now joined by boxes of chocolates arriving on the shelves.

Thursday is a public holiday here to mark Holy Thursday, the day of the Last Supper. Asuncion became quiet, the few businesses that were open closed their doors at midday. We have been told that Easter time also marks the end of the holiday season and there is a mass exodus to the countryside and lake resorts as people enjoy the rare four day weekend.

Friday began quietly, really quietly. the only time that I have heard Asuncion this quiet was on Christmas morning. At mid morning we walked into the centre of town. Even by this time there were very few people in the streets. The ones that were out were with their friends and families, happily walking together. To mark Good Friday there was no smell of asado (latin american barbecue) in the air. The few restaurants that were open had special menus featuring bacalao con garbanzo, a delicious stew of salt cod and chickpeas. lasagne and gnocchi with vegetables, as well as the usual favourites of steak, chicken, the sopa paraguaya which is a type of corn bread and chipa guazu, a cheesy souffle made with green corn.

The weather was beautiful. At Altos, a small town about an hours drive from Asuncion, the crucifixion is depicted on the green beside the church. The event lasts all day until sunset. Forecast storms never came and the day was bathed in a lovely warm late summer type light. The evening was perfect as singers from the church paraded the streets in Asuncion with crosses.

Saturday awoke to heavy rain and cold winds, there was little movement in the city centre. The usually large and jubilant crowd at the Defensores de los Chacos stadium for the football match was also diminished and more subdued.

Sunday remained quiet. There had been more pageants in the morning beginning at 5am at Trinidad church, depicting the passion and crucifixion. The restaurants were doing a slow trade, most of the city’s inhabitants were still away. The customers that were there were leaving with bags full of Easter eggs, milk and white chocolate carefully decorated and wrapped in cellophane. They has almost all disappeared from the supermarkets. By the evening the rumble of traffic could be heard. Porches were being swept as owners returned home, dogs were barking from the excitement of their freedom after their long journeys. Nighttime was busy, restaurants and bars with customers spilling out onto the pavement, people quietly enjoying the last of easter and relaxing before their return to work.

Today it is a memory as Asuncion returned to normal and everyone has their story to tell, getting ready for winter and dreaming of next summer.

Categories: Daily Life
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