Laguna Blanca, ParaguayAfter 40 kilometers on a bus that I can only describe as spectacularly dilapidated on a dirt road that gave a whole new meaning to ‘bumpy’ I was dumped off at a cross roads in the middle of absolutely no where. To my right was a repair shop, a shirtless, large bellied Paraguayan [...]
Laguna Blanca, Paraguay
After 40 kilometers on a bus that I can only describe as spectacularly dilapidated on a dirt road that gave a whole new meaning to ‘bumpy’ I was dumped off at a cross roads in the middle of absolutely no where. To my right was a repair shop, a shirtless, large bellied Paraguayan smoking a cigarette and a chicken. Straight ahead bounced on down the road into the distance. To my left was the red dirt road leading to Laguna Blanca – my ultimate destination.
What I didn’t know when I looked to my left was that the main gate to the lake was 2 kilometers away. All the bus drive told me as I departed was, “Laguna Blanca, alla.” while pointing. A “dos kilometros” would have been helpful. Two kilometers isn’t far and I’ll walk five times that on any given day easily but two kilometers in the mid-day Paraguayan sun and humidity with my pack, camping gear and two days of food felt more like ten.
I reached the gate sweating profusely and Alan and I thought the worst part was over. We both thought wrong. Another four kilometers through open fields and inland forest had us soaked through.
For all the sweat and bugs this place is well worth it. Laguna Blanca is a privately owned reserve with a crystal clear lake and a sandy white bottom and shore line. I later found out that this is Paraguay’s only naturally occurring lake. It smacks of tranquility. Birds chirping during the day, frogs croaking at night, and butterflies everywhere. Outside of the road there are only small adobe houses, fields, and cows grazing.
|From Laguna Blanca 2011-04|
At the lake is a research scientist who has told me a lot about the natural habitat of the area. The story here varies little from other areas I have visited and centers on deforestation. This area holds a unique habitat known as the cerrado. The cerrado has just begun to be studied but has a greater bio-diversity than the African Savannah. New species are being discovered on a regular basis. Today, the cerrado is one of the most threatened habitats in Paraguay and Brazil. One problem confronting Paraguay are slash and run cattle farmers crossing over from Brazil. Compared to Brazil land in Paraguay is cheap so it’s not uncommon for Brazilians to buy land, deforest it for the sale of lumber, raise cattle for two years to make a quick profit and then go back home leaving the land deserted and deforested.
Deforestation for farming is something that can be understood but the complete disregard for land in Latin America is something that I can’t understand. It never ceases to amaze me how they throw their trash anywhere they please with complete indifference. On the bus today I saw at least five different people throw bags, wrappers and plastic bottles out the window. Yesterday, a worker on a nature reserve killed a snake just because it was on the beach. There seems to be little comprehension that the land around them is unique, limited and only getting smaller by the day.
Photos of Laguna Blanca