Later that evening a few friends and I hopped a taxi downtown and, on the way, managed to find a micro-entrepreneur" who was willing to sell us tickets to the Press Box. Despite some doubts as to the provenance and validity of said tickets, we decided to take the risk .
Carnaval took place on a still-in-development boulevard that hugs the coast of the bay of Asuncion. Eventually it will be a beautiful place to stroll, bike ride, sit in the sun in front of a cafe. This evening, it was a great venue at which to stage a Carnaval parade.
As we walked to the Press Box, still thinking we had a 50/50 chance of having bogus tickets, we noticed other micro-entrepreneurs doing an absolutely booming business selling aerosol cans of what we assumed was insect repellent. "Uh-oh, hope we slathered on enough repellent before we left," I thought! As some of the following photos will show, the contents of the cans were an important "audience participation tool" rather than bug spray.
Well, we eventually reached the Press Box where, wonder of wonders, we were admitted and rewarded with front-row access to the amazingly colorful proceedings! Interestingly, I couldn't identify a single person who looked like they might be a member of the Press. The press were all at the Coca-Cola section where they had access to lots of swag and other goodies.
As the following photos show, it was an incredibly colorful extravaganza whose participants were deemed to be the best of the best from all of the regional Carnaval parades that had taken place around Paraguay during the preceding weeks. Having such a close view of the proceedings, I noticed what seemed to be a very pure, almost innocent, joy radiating from many of the participants. I couldn't help wondering if Carnaval participants in places like Rio de Janeiro are able to enjoy themselves as much, or if they feel pressure to live-up to the expectations of the thousands of tourists who flock there just for their world famous Carnaval. For that matter, I wonder if they have in Rio as diverse an array of shapes, sizes and ages among their participants as were to be seen in Asuncion on this evening?