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Paraguay, Guarani and the Jesuits

Date: April 11, 2024 | By: Ashish Sanghrajka | Category: Travel Blog

Paraguay, Guarani and the Jesuits


When we talk about the indigenous people of Latin America, what usually comes up are the Incas, the Maya, and even the Aymara. And the language we hear about the most is usually Quechua from the Incas. However, the language I have always been the most fascinated by is Guarani, specifically in Paraguay. This language is often overseen however variations of this dialect are still spoken in Argentina, Bolivia, and parts of Brazil. Being the most widely spoken indigenous language in Paraguay is what sets this amazing place apart in my opinion.


I remember a conversation with my late father about Paraguay and he was telling me a story of Jesuit history when he was exploring South America in the late 80s.  He noticed cultures and dialects that arrived before the Jesuits and the need to not conform the way many in the world do when foreign settlers arrive (Now I was a child when had this talk for the first time, and at that time, what drove the point home for me was our last name not conforming to the more common Indian given names). When we added Paraguay as a destination to the Big Five collection, he and I revisited that conversation because it was the Guarani dialect that drew me in.


Beyond the dialect, I became fixated on Asunción because anyone that knows me, realizes I am a history nerd. Similar to sights in Mughal India, Cajamarca in Peru, Anuradhapura in Sri Lanka, and sites in ancient Egypt, the city of Asunción was a center In the 16th century, of the Spanish province after they fled Argentina and later played a key role in Paraguay’s independence. I remember having this amazing conversation with Mahen about the transformation taking place in South America today and how it has evolved over the past decades. My father being who he is, was quick to remind me that as a child, I couldn’t tell Galapagos apart from Botswana and that he was glad to see I learned “a few things.”


How fitting then, that Mahen’s avatar plays a role in the featured video.


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