Paraguay was one of South America's largest countries until it was decimated in the Parguayan War in the 1840's. The Paraguayan War was prosecuted by the UK following the opening of a large steel plant in the country which Britain preceived as a threat to exports. Brazil was persuaded to wage war on Paraguay with British assistance. This led to the killing of most of Paraguay's men and children, plus the reduction in the size of the country to a barely viable size. Many consider Paraguay's support for Germany in the Second World War to be a consequence of Britain's involvement in the Parguayan war.

In the 1990's Paraguay remained as one of the worlds last countries to rely on steam engines for main line railways. The main line to Argentina is steam hauled, see below. The trains burn hardwood, hence the need for extended tender sides.

 

All of Paraguay's electricity and 70% of Brazil's is generated at the Itaipu hydro electric power station, the world's largest hydro station. The Itaipu Dam is on the Parana River at the Paraguay/Brazil border. It is operated jointly by Brazil and Paraguay. The penstocks, taking the impounded water down to the turbines are shown in the next picture. Note their size in relation to the nearby vehicle.

Many Paraguayan roads are constructed from natural stone quarried from a region to the north of Asuncion. The stones form a natural hexagonal shape which interlock naturally. A typical quarry face is shown (care has to be taken in this quarry, it is inhabited by killer bees).

 

Below, JK examines one of the stones quite quickly. The stones are cut to approximately 250mm lengths and used as road surfacing material.

Below, a typical Paraguayan road, using the natural stone surfacing.

 

Concrete block paving has been used since the early 1970's and the hexagonal pavers shown below are common in town centres. This is the town of Itaipu on the Paraguayan side of the Paraguay/Brazil border.

 

Similar pavers are used in Brazil and the picture below shows them at the University of Sao Paulo.

 

They seem to be less effective than rectangular pavers laid to a herringbone pattern (this is true for virtually all non-rectangular pavers) and the picture below shows how they move horizontally to create large joints, so losing interlock and therefore structural integrity. (JK's definition of interlock: "The inability of an individual paver to move independently of its neighbours".)

 

Below, JK meets the Parguayan Prime Minister, Luis Boettner in 1995. Luis accepted JK's invitation to visit Newcastle and this led to JK's appointment as Paraguayan Honorary Consul.