Ypacarai is Guarani for Holy Water. It is also the name of a lake that is just about an hour out from Asuncion. We visited it yesterday as part of our first excursion out into the country side.
In looking around El Rinconcito, it is easy to see that Celeste Ramos, the owner/operator of El Rinconcito is interested in the art of the indigenous peoples of the region. There are statues and masks and other works of ceramic art to be found. Yesterday, she arranged for us to take a tour that included stops to see the work of a couple of her favorite local native artists.
The first stop was at a shop that featured primarily Indian art. There were small scultures of local animals as well as ceremonial face masks. What was striking to me was the low price attached to all of it. We walked out with a sack-full that only cost 55,000 Guaranies ($11).
The next place we stopped was the abode of an artist named Chacho. Chacho has quite an operation and he showed it too us. The mixes various kinds of the local clay together to make a clay suitable for his pottery and he, through Diana, our interpretor, explained the process from the making of the clay to the firing of the finished pieces. Chaco is not so much into Indigenous art as he is other things. He makes clay fruit so realistic that you might accidentally try to take a bite. Seriously. Celeste has some of his apples in a bowl and I had to touch one to know it was fake. I bought one of those.
We had lunch at a park on a beach on the lake. This is the slow time of year and we had the place pretty much to ourselves.
After lunch we proceeded to Casa del Monte, which is a park of sorts. It is hard to fit into North American catagories. It is developed around an awareness of nature theme. There are animals in cages, there is a pony ride, their is what looks to be a very nice restaurant, there a health spa, and they have WiFi.
Two things that they have help to encapsulate the joy of foreign travel. The tucan and the cactus tree. If you've ever seen a tucan face to face instead of on a cereal box you know what I mean when I say it looks like a made up animal. If a child were to color a bird with yellow and orange on its beak and deep blue around its eyes, you'd think the child ignorant. The same with the cactus tree (whose real name I don't know). If a child drew a plant with the trunk of a tree and cactus instead of branches and leaves, you'd praise him for his vivid imagination.
I can't. I've seen it with my own eyes.
Occasionally, as we rode through the countryside, I'd lean over to Jean and say, "Okay, cows grazing among palm trees? You are putting me on. This is ridiculous.
In the evening after we returned, we went out to supper with Steve Harmon. We went to Bolsi's which I am told is a favorite of Alice Sagehorn and Lynette Olson. For five people with two glasses of wine and two coffees, it was $40, and this might be the fanciest restaurant in the city. Seriously.