Saturday, November 26th, was my first street photography trip ever. It also happened to be my first day in this city, a year ago. For long I have been wanting to learn about photography and get serious about it, and although the past 3 years have been more than perfect to start at it (living in Boston and New York City), the reality is that current timing seems more right than ever.
Meet the crew: Fernanda and Leonardo. Fernanda is Paraguayan, friends of my friend Leonardo, who is actually Argentinian but lived in Venezuela for more than 20 years. I knew about him getting into photography, and so I recently called him to set up a photo trip. He then invited me to take pictures with Fernanda and him at Asunción’s downtown.
Asunción’s downtown is super lonely, compared to those of the other cities I have lived in. It resembles an arid, small town downtown, with many of it’s intersections working on the informality, without any sign or traffic light. It’s common to find indigenous people on the streets, selling almost anything, from garments to food. It doesn’t feel insecure, just lonely, with an sense of laziness and inertia permeating the air. There’s a lot to photograph, not because of it being touristic, but because of how quaint it can be: the contrasts evidenced in it’s inhabitants, in it’s urbanism and even more, in it’s lack of dynamism (any Paraguayan would swear the otherwise).
Having a coffee at Asunción’s most hipster coffee shop was also a first for me. That would be “The Consulado” a Williamsburg-style coffee place, where I had an authentic Cold Brew with some choco-chip cookies, while enjoying the chatting of Paraguay’s prime hipster crowd. Honestly, I enjoyed it more than what I would like to acknowledge, it reminded me of other places and people that are very close to my heart (Konditori, the Brooklyn gang).
Finally, we moved from spot to “La Costanera de Asunción”, a coastline along the Paraguay river, where Paraguayans of all ages and social status come to walk, chill and even mingle.
Even after a year, the whole river experience still seems strange for me, coming from a country known for its world-renowned beaches. People actually do go and hang at beach, for the most part of a day, without swimming in it. Some may soak their feet and legs at the shore, but the amount of Respect they have for the river never ceases to amaze me. They mention currents, drowned kids and fishermen, whenever you ask them about their fear for the water, no matter their education level nor social status.
La Costanera is indeed very picturesque. Kids playing, adults dancing, even some offering free hugs (yes, they also do that in here!). Typical candies are found at every curve (not corner, since there are none). Boat rides are also available, and highly cherished among locals. It’s a happy place. You can feel it and be part of it, for as long as you manage to stay under the scorching sun, characteristic of Paraguayan summer evenings.