Villeta, Paraguay - Polarsteps
Villeta, Argentina, population: about 37,000. Villeta is about an hour's drive due south of Asunción and directly next to the Paraguay River.
I was in Formosa and from there to the Asunción area there are two routes: north via bus or across the river to a tiny pueblo called Alberdi then bus north. I chose the more interesting route - the ferry to Alberdi. Alberdi has a population of under 10,000 people, there is no supermarket and one coop bank with one cash machine (which actually accepted my bank card). Other than that, there are four hotels and one hostel, and many shops and restaurants. There are some photos in the photo album. I walked most of the streets in the town in the couple of hours that I was waiting for the bus.
Villeta was founded in March 1714, by Juan Gregorio Bazán de Pedraza, with the original name of San Felipe de Borbón del Valle del Bastán (Saint Philip of Bourbon of the Valley of Bastán), in honor of King Felipe II (King of Spain from 1556, King of Portugal from 1580, and King of Naples and Sicily from 1554 until he died in 1598.) The town was later renamed Villeta because it resembled a great Villa. Until 1930, the port was mostly used for exporting oranges, but today it is used for general cargo. Villeta's port is the primary shipping point for most of Paraguay's exports. Nineteen large factories are located in the area and they produce cement, iron rods, cotton, electric cables, agricultural chemicals, and more. The cement and chemical plants are infamous for the environmental contamination they cause. The major processing plant for Paraguay's cement industry is located in this port. Thankfully, the port is not actually here in the city but is located just outside of Villeta. But signs are posted to people in the park alongside the river - no swimming, stay out of the water. The city does have a few mid-19th-century buildings, one of which is the Church of the Virgin of the Rosary. There is a picture of it in the photo album. It wasn't open when I was in town so I couldn't get any interior pics. There are also many turn-of-the-twentieth-century houses in the city. I found a little info about a dirt racing track which is apparently for both cars and motorcycles but I don't know if it's open and useable. The Google map satellite view shows a very interesting layout.
So, my impressions: I like this little town. There is a new and very large supermarket as well as the older supermarket, two banks, and several ATMs which do accept my Schwab card, a proper coffee shop, and a couple of ice cream shops, as well as many other necessary stores. The central plaza is big for such a small town - three blocks by one block. It's clean and quite nice. That cannot be said about the area alongside the river, though. The park at the river is in dire need of renovation. The riverside is popular for fishing. The town is clean, quiet, and actually pretty. The business district, as such, is along one road through town and one road skirting the edge of town. But, I'm on the fence about putting it on my top-10 list, maybe in position 10. The reservation I have is this: finding a place to live in these small towns would be a real challenge. I usually see no for-rent signs in them. And here in Villeta, none.
My South America Journey