Caazapa was originally a Franciscan mission town, founded by the famed Franciscan Fray Luis de Bolanos in 1607. The name is short for Caaguyjehasapa which means past the forest. The town is home to the Ykua Bolanos spring, famed for never running dry even during times of drought. Deep in the Paraguayan countryside, Caazapa is rarely visited by tourists. However, should you find yourself in this remote and rural area of Paraguay take the time to soak in the relaxed attitude of a town so tranquilo that many restaurants won’t even bother to charge you for mandioca. Stroll down the town’s surprisingly nice palm tree lined main avenue, peak into the church to admire the original altar and then head to the Ykua Bolanos to soak in a little local history.
The Traveling Barber
One of Caazapa’s most inventive entrepreneurs, El Pinguino is a traveling barber who rides his bicycle through the city, lawn chair and barber tools in tow. Flag him down if you need a haircut and he will set up shop and get to work.
Iglesia de San Pablo & Capilla de San Roque
This bright white church is modern on the outside but houses some very nice examples of wood carvings from the colonial era on the inside. In front of the church just behind the museum are remnants of the mission’s indigenous dwellings, known as Acera Pucu. If you are interested in seeing more relics from the original mission be sure to head down three blocks Mariscal Estigarribia (towards the entrance to town) and take a left for four blocks along Coronel Bogado to visit the town’s secondary church, the Capilla de San Roque. Though in some disrepair the small chapel has much original woodwork from the Franciscan mission.
Museo Fray Juan Bernardo
A small but nicely organized museum with religious objects from the colonial era. Tel: 0981 335 006, General Genes between Mariscal Estigarribia and Presidente Hayes across from the town church. Hours are ostensibly 7am-noon but you are likely to have to ask someone at the Municipal Office to open the museum for you (two blocks away on Teniente Rojas between Dr. Paiva and Luis. A de Herrera) Ykua Bolanos
A very pleasant park and polideportivo (sports complex) this is home to the Ykua Bolanos spring as well as a number of sports facilities. The spring itself is surrounded by stones and marked with a large white relief sculpture depicting the moment Fray Luis de Bolanos struck his staff against the rocks. Provided the sun is not strong, Ykua Bolanos is a pleasant walk from the center of town. From the main plaza continue one block down Mariscal Estigarribia and take a left on to Fray Luis de Bolanos. This road continues a bit past town to the park.
The Legend of Ykua Bolanos
According to legend when Fray Luis de Bolanos arrived in Caazapa to establish a new mission he was met with resistance from local Guaram indigenous leaders. Having suffered through a seven year drought they were understandably hostile and doubting, demanding proof of the existence of Bolanos’ God. The father tapped his staff against the stones and from that spot a spring burst forth and has not stopped flowing to this day. As with many of Paraguay’s springs, rumor has it that the waters are enchanted; once you bathe in or drink from the spring you are destined to fall in love with someone from Caazapa. The irony of the situation is that, while the spring never runs dry, the town of Caazapa itself has regular
water shortages due to a low water table and lack of wells.
Festival del Ykua Bolanos
Every year Caazapa’s Ykua Bolanos park is filled to capacity with revelers who come to enjoy the musical performances of the Festival Ykua Bolanos. Local acts get going around dusk on the 25th of January and the festival culminates the next morning with performances from well-known national (and sometimes international) acts. In the days preceding the festival there are a number of activities in town including artesanla fairs and horse shows. For more information contact the Municipal Office (see Quick Reference for listings).
From Villarrica continue about sixty kilometers south on Route 8. Caazapa is the last town on Route 8 before it switches from asphalt to dirt. This dirt road continues south, eventually connecting with Route 1 in Coronel Bogado – however the going is slow and road conditions can be questionable past Caazapa.
From Asuncion the La Yutena (Tel: 0542 232258, 021 558 774) bus line has several buses per day, Gs. 30,000. However if you are headed to Caazapa it is worthwhile to stop by Villarrica first. La Yutena stops in Villarrica but La Guairena ( Tel: 0541 42678) is a much more comfortable ride. From Villarrica the Tebicuary (Tel: 021 555 991) bus line makes daily trips to Caazapa.
Hotel Las Palmas The nicest hotel in Caazapa, just at the entrance to town with a pretty exterior. Rooms are basic and minimally decorated, opening out in to the interior garden. There is a small restaurant adjoining as well. Tel: 0542 232 264/5, www.laspalmashotelpy.com, Single Gs. 60,000, double Gs. 120,000, TV, A/C, pool, computers with internet
Hotel Junior A small hotel with decent rooms. Interestingly the majority of the hotel’s recent renovations were funded by a uranium mining company that was operating in the area but has since gone out of business. Tel: 0542 232 060, Corner of Presidente Hayes and Dr. Paiva, www.hoteljuniorpy.com, Single Gs. 60,000, double Gs. 80,000, sporadic Wi-Fi, TV, A/C
Estancia Loma Linda Estancia Loma Linda is a good place to kick back, relax and enjoy Caazapa’s countryside. The natural setting is ideal for horseback riding, bicycling, fishing, partridge hunting, accompanying ranch hands on rural activities, and taking a break from the heat in the shade of the colonial style corridors or the refreshing pool. Meals include homemade jams, cheeses, baked goods and produce from the ranch itself. Tel: 021 683 003, 0981 402 713, continue southwest on Route 8 past Caazapa to the town of Maciel and then continue approximately seventeen kilometers and you will see the entrance on the right-hand side), www.estancialomalinda.com, advanced reservations are required and can be made through APATUR at www.turismorural.org.py or 021 210 550 x126/127 Mon-Fri 8am-5pm, Gs.
300,000 per person includes full room and board, A/C, pool
Casa Rica This bar’s chipa is the area’s best – buttery and cheesy. Dulce de leche filled alfajores make for a good dessert. Tel: 0542 232 480, 0981 321 015, Mariscal Estigarribia between Dr. Paiva and General Genes, Daily 9am-6pm, Gs. 5,000-15,000
La Florida Empanadas are La Florida’s specialty and there are even vegetarian choclo (corn) empanadas – a rarity this far from Asuncion. Cold drinks, sandwiches and packaged snacks are also on sale. Tel: 0542, 232 209, corner of Mariscal Estigarribia and Silvio Chamorro, Mon-Fri 8am-10pm, Sun 5pm-10pm, Gs. 5,000-25,000
Caazapa Map Paraguay Photo Gallery
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