Caacupé, Paraguay - Polarsteps
Caacupé, Paraguay, population: 26,000, but the metropolitan area/district is about 57,000 people. The nickname for the city is "Spiritual Capital of Paraguay". The church is the Minor Basilica of Caacupé and it receives many thousands of people coming here for the celebration of the Immaculate Conception of Mary, on December 8. The church is of a striking architecture, check out the pics in the photo album.
The city was founded in April 1770, but the historical story goes back to 1600. It talks about a man, Jesés, who went out into the jungle to search for food and wood, but he wandered into the inhospitable territory. He was chased by the Mbaya people but they lost track of him when he hid behind a large tree trunk. He then prayed and asked the Virgin Mary to deliver him from certain death. The Mbayas couldn't find him, and he was saved to live another day. A miracle had taken place. So José took a piece of the tree bark home with him and formed a beautiful sculpture of the Virgin Mary. He and his family settled in that valley with the assurance that the Virgin Mary would always look after them. He built a small chapel which drew people from around the area. Many people settled in the same area, and the town was born and was named Ytuenses. By 1765, the valley was already known as the Valley of Caacupé (in Spanish caacupé means "behind the mountain"). As the town grew, they had to build a bigger chapel, which was completed in 1770. Upon completion in April, that date was given as the date of founding for the town.
The city's economy is supported by a small candy industry, mineral water bottling, agriculture, livestock, and some tourism. To a lesser extent - forestry, flowers, wood and leather crafts, and ceramics.
So, my impressions: I like Caacupé. The town has two plazas, the one in front of the church is very open with no statues, monuments, or fountains, not even any benches, but it does have lots of trees. The other plaza is the main town square and is very nice. It is surrounded by restaurants, ice cream shops, and other small businesses. The town is built around those two plazas. Caacupé is also a little hilly, which is a nice change from the previous towns I visited here in Paraguay, which are flat as pancakes. I also find the Spanish spoken here easier to understand than the Spanish spoken in those previously visited towns. But it's still more difficult than the Spanish in Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru. Another point of interest—most, if not all, of the old cobblestone streets have been overlayed with asphalt. Which, as I'm a cyclist, is a good thing, or would be if I were to live here. I also noticed the streets are clean and have very little litter.
My South America Journey