This is a curious corner of Paraguay. Campo Nueve (literally “Field Nine) is made up of a number of Mennonite settlements from a variety of countries including Germany, Canada, and the United States. The town is somewhat informally segregated, with the Mennonites living on the south side of Route 7 and Paraguayans on the north side. This may seem weird but people seem to take it in stride. There is a marked difference between the two sides. The Paraguayan side is similar to other midsized communities abutting the main road. A jumble of small houses extends away from the asphalt quickly giving way to dirt roads and a more rural setting. On the Mennonite side nice cobblestone streets lead to communities removed from the main road. Houses have a distinct foreign feel with modern construction, sprawling front lawns and painted picket fences.
Agro-business is the name of the game here. Campo Nueve is home to the Lactolanda dairy factory, at the moment the largest in Paraguay. Past this factory the landscape is dotted with many grain silos and in town there are several banks and farm machinery distributors. Even in this fertile area of Paraguay farming is risky business. In order to increase their income many of the area’s male Mennonites leave Paraguay and their families for long stretches during winter in order to pick up seasonal farming jobs in the northern hemisphere.
Changing Names along Ruta 7
Many communities between Caaguazu and Ciudad del Este have two names: the official name and the name more commonly used by the general public. J. Eulogio Estigarribia is better known as Campo Nueve and Juan Manuel Frutos as Pastoreo. During the Stroessner era these settlements were given new names honoring members of the Colorado party. Though these official names still appear on documents such as maps, you will find that many people have reverted back to using the town’s original names. If you plan on spending much time in this area it is best to know both names, just in case. In addition to the aforementioned towns Juan Emilio O’Leary is also known as Paraje Cheiro Kue and Juan Leon Mallorqum as Ka’arendy.
Hotel Alff Though a bit small, this hotel’s rooms are well appointed. All are on a second story opening out to a small outdoor corridor. The hotel’s nearby restaurant (two buildings away) serves up grilled meats rodizio style (all you can eat) but also has a la carte options including pizzas. Plus it is likely the only restaurant in Paraguay whose exterior has a large painting of 80’s TV puppet alien Alf. Tel: 0528 222 336, 0528 222 427, Rt 7 km 213.5 on the left-hand
side of the road in the center of town, Single Gs. 80,000, double Gs. 140,000, TV, AC. Restaurant daily 6am-11:30pm, Gs. 20,000-40,000
Hotel Germania This hotel’s rooms are larger and brighter than Hotel Alff’s and there is also a small pool. No restaurant but it just across the road from Churrasqueria Alff. Tel: 0528 222 800, 0973 556 306, Rt 7 km 213.5 on the right-hand side of the road if coming from Asuncion, www.hotellagermania.com, Single Gs. 75,000-95,000, Double Gs. 110,000-140,000, computers with internet, TV, A/C, pool
Sul de America A large, high ceilinged restaurant known for its wide selection of grilled meats. The large buffet includes a pasta bar on Sundays. The pizza salamin is excellent, topped with homemade salami. This is also available for sale along with sausages, breads, cakes and sandwiches. Another excellent product is honey produced by the Eirete Nuan cooperative located down the road in Juan Manuel Frutos/Pastoreo. Harvested under strict quality controls the honey is excellent and purchasing a bottle is a great way to support local beekeepers. Tel: 0524 225 203, 0971 415 671, km 200 of Rt 7, thirteen kilometers before Campo Nueve at the entrance to Pastoreo/JMFrutos, Mon-Sun 6am-11:30pm, Gs. 15,000-35,000
Hildebrand Hildebrand’s main selling point is that their buffet includes fish (although not on Thursday night). The caldo de pescado (fish soup) is quite tasty and the mandioca fish sticks are certainly an innovative use of mandioca you’re unlikely to see elsewhere in Paraguay. They also have the nicest roadside bathroom along Rt 2/7 so it’s worth a pit stop. Tel: 0528 222 232, km 209 Route 7, Mon-Sat 9am-2pm, 6pm-11pm, Gs. 30,000-40,000
Lactolanda Factory The Lactolanda Factory is a popular stop with travelers along Route 7 who stop in to cool off with Paraguay’s best soft serve ice cream Run by the La Holanda Cooperative (named for both the country and the type of dairy cow they use – Holland), this is the largest dairy factory in Paraguay. Over 300,000 liters of milk is produced per day and the factory is capable of producing up to twenty-five tons of powdered milk daily. Other dairy products include cheese and yogurt. These are all sold in the factory’s storefront but the star is the soft-serve. Flavors include chocolate, strawberry, dulce de leche and peach. Servings are generous and inexpensive – if you can resist getting a large tub then go for the waffle cone. Fortunately the soft serve is also available at the Super Campo 9 supermarket in town, although flavor selection is more limited (this is also a good place to stock up on other Mennonite specialties: oatmeal, peanut butter and sauerkraut). Tel: 0522 42860, approximately one kilometer past the eastern edge of town on the left-hand side if coming from Asuncion, Mon-Sat 6:30am-12pm, 2pm-5:30pm, Gs. 5,000-15,000
Frankonia Another good place to stretch your legs and grab a bite to eat. This cute German-run cafe serves up good sandwiches ham and pork sandwiches and tasty desserts. The nice bathroom is another plus. Tel: 0674 20065, km. 246 Ruta 7, www.frankonia.com.py, Tue-Fri 7:30am-7pm, Sat 7:30am-4:30pm, Gs. 10,000-15,000
Campo Nueve is located at km 213 of Route 7. Approximately ten kilometers before town (at the turn off to Juan Manuel Frutos/Pastoreo) there is a toll booth that charges Gs. 9,000 (charged in both directions, unlike most tolls in Paraguay). Discounted prepaid toll cards are available for those who will make this trip often.
All buses going to Ciudad del Este will stop in Campo Nueve. The fastest is Expreso Guarani, Gs. 45,000.
Kilometer 258 of Route 7 is marked by an enormous lapacho tree. It is in this spot that General Alfredo Stroessner officially inaugurated this stretch of highway, event which was commemorated by a small cement mural entitled “Tajy Stroessner.” Today you can see the spot in the upper corner where the ex-dictator’s name has been chiseled out of the mural. A look at the enormous tree gives you a sense of the magnitude of the old growth forests that once covered this region.