Filadelfia

Main road of Filadelfia

Filadelfia (also called Colonia Fernheim) is town of about 13,000 inhabitants and a Mennonite colony in the Chaco region of Paraguay. It is different from most of Paraguay; this is due to the remote location and harsh environment, and also to its majority of German immigrants (coming by way of the Soviet Union).

Understand

The first foreign people moved in during the 1920s, and the town was finally founded in 1930. Their economic basis is agriculture, in particular dairy cattle farming and peanuts. The Mennonites still speak German (Plattdeutsch), but Spanish is spoken as readily. The Fernheim Cooperative is responsible for many aspects of life in the colony.

The Mennonite Fernheim cooperative runs many private services, like hospitals, schools, etc., which are paid for by the profits from agriculture. Nearly all of the Mennonite families have shares in the co-op. Outsiders can buy in, subject to living one year among the community so your character can be judged. 10% of your earnings are submitted to the co-op as well. In return, you get use of all their facilities, and benefits like health insurance (not provided by the Paraguayan government). You may also get share dividends from the co-op, but they will sometimes hold votes on whether to retain the dividends and invest them in new facilities. Members get discounts at the co-op supermarket, also. The co-op does provides services for non-members, such as schools for the indigenous. You can learn all of this and much more, such as local history, at the museum.

Water is constantly an issue in the Chaco; all households collect their rainwater. It is processed and stored for use, so water is safe to drink in Filadelfia. Filadelfia began desalinisation of ground water recently, as rainfall was low. Power is supplied by Itaipu dam; previously, it was generated locally by burning wood. Population is growing 4% per year, while demands on power grow 20% per year, as affluence increases. The colony produces five main agricultural goods: castor beans (for hydraulic oil), cotton, sorbum (for biodiesel), sesame and peanuts.

Get in

By bus

  Buses terminate at the NASA office on Calle Chaco Boreal; you may also disembark on Avenue Hindenburg, the main street.

By plane

Since the paved Ruta Transchaco was finished, there are no more scheduled flights in Chaco. If you happen to fly your own small plane, you can land at the airstrip of nearby Loma Plata.

Get around

The town sprawls several kilometers in all directions, luckily most of the interesting and important places are within easy reach on foot along Av. Hindenburg. However the heat can be punishing, so walk slowly and bring water. Blocks are very long. There are pickup truck taxis; you can choose to ride on the back or in the cab. Other public transport is unheard of.

See

The "Faith, unity and labor" monument
The Jakob Unger Museum

Do

Buy

Local artisan goods from jewellery to statuettes, both of Guaraní and German tradition can be found in local shops.

If you need to exchange currency, there are two banks in town (both along Av. Hindenburg) and they reportedly take US dollars and Brazilian reais. Cooperativa Fernheim is between Calle Unruh and Calle Industrial and InterBanco is just south of the supermarket. The latter is also equipped with an ATM, which accepts international cards.

Most businesses are closed during lunchtime from 12:00 to 14:00, as well as on Saturday afternoon and Sunday.

Eat

Other than these, you will find a few hamburguesa joints along Calle Hindenburg, further south than the co-op supermarket.

Drink

Again, south of the Fernheim supermarket (where the indigenous and Latino neighbourhoods are located) you will find a few small bars.

Sleep

Parque Memoria

Connect

Go next

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Monday, February 01, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.