“Paraguay is a blank on the map”, writes Margaret Hebblethwaite, “literally a blank if you search Google maps. You find, for example, a street map of the Brazilian border town of Ponta Porã, complete up to the frontier, and then as this bi-national city crosses the line and becomes Pedro Juan Caballero, Paraguay, it turns into grey space. You come across backpackers who say, ‘Don’t go to Paraguay – nothing to see’, but it is just that they do not know where to look.”
Determined to open up Paraguay in the true Bradt tradition of providing guides for explorers, journalist-theologian Margaret Hebblethwaite has written the first dedicated English-language guide to this colourful and unjustly overlooked state at the heart of South America. She knows the country from the inside, having emigrated to Paraguay in 2000.
She brings alive the former Jesuit missions, with their wooden statues and stone ruins, in this country where the famous “30 towns” earned Paraguay the epithet of being a “lost paradise”. She provides a guide to the remarkable craftwork of the country, where an intricate lace tablecloth could take up to a year to make. She describes the country’s markedly different landscapes, towns and villages from the semi-arid Chaco to the Pantanal’s remote wetlands, from the rolling hills of Villarrica to the watery Atlantic forest, from the grasslands of Misiones to the dramatic Iguazú waterfalls only just over the Brazilian border. Little-known museums are uncovered with up-to-date practical details in the capital city, Asunción, whilst for linguists the chief characteristics of the Guarani language are explored in a comprehensible form.