from Plata Ivygui: Treasure Tales Found in Paraguay

There are many stories told about "plata ivigui" (buried treasure). There is always a friend, neighbor, relative, or acquaintance who has found, passed by, found indications, or suffered a good scare from supposed supernatural apparitions or physical phenomena, related to this theme.

They say that even today there are many locations where one can still find those treasures, just waiting for someone to search for them and dig them up. Well-versed in our ways and our culture, Dr. Carlos Alberto Pussineri Scala has in his collection a few earthenware pots used to keep these treasures. Apparently, the most treasures were deposited in clay jars or in iron or mud pots, which are popularly called "yapepo." There are a number of reasons for this, one being that since the discovery of iron ore, and the establishment of foundries, iron became very inexpensive in Paraguay, resulting in its widespread use in most households.

Treasure does not indicate a precious metal, but is in the form of cash, the money that was in circulation during the time of Lopez. Much treasure was rumored to be buried during the War the Triple Alliance: "plata yvyvuy" literally means "treasure buried under the land.

One example "Conversation in Caacupe"

Thick-featured, with leathery skin and clear eyes, don Severiano is, what you could say is the prototype of the authentic Paraguayan farmer.

In his hesitant form of speaking Guarani, he told me stories filled with adventure and suspense.

We were seated in his wide patio, a few meters from the house.

In the garden, tropical plants and flowers filled the air with fragrance that March afternoon, and the air was thick with impending rain while the long-extended summer sun heated up the earth and ripened early the oranges on the trees that grew next to the house.

Several children with cherubic faces, well-dressed and clean, played near us, without interrupting our conversation at any moment.

"They're my daughter's children," he told me in Guarani, with a voice that, in spite of being filled with pauses and self-restraint, showed he was proud to be a father and a grandfather. With the customary hospitality that characterizes Paraguayans, especially those from the interior, a brother of his modestly offered us oranges he had just collected.

In a neighboring house, a radio was blaring a soccer game in progress, the Cerro-Olimpia championship, which was tied at 2-2. Meanwhile, the groups of children of both sexes, some dressed in jeans, others in their Sunday clothes, cheerfully followed the progress of the game.

This gentlemen told me that in a place called "Vapor Cu_" several ships had sunk -- both Brazilian and Paraguayan -- and it was the popular belief that one of those sunk had carried on it a considerable fortune.

Thus, in certain atmospheric conditions, one could hear the sounds of the battle -- "movimiento jha jhendypa" -- and the sound of flames as in a fire.

"Sometimes horsemen appear in full gallop, and one can hear cries of pain, of courage, and agonized groans. They say that the people who live in the region avoid going by that area when it looks like rain, because it's precisely those conditions that produce those phenomena."

The belief is that the ships that sank in this place were carrying valuable cargos of metal which was going to be used to pay the Brazilian officials.

The Yhaguy River, which must have had a much stronger current at that time, one strong enough to permit the a medium-draft ship to navigate, has a sandy bottom. Today the mind cannot even imagine the fact that ships came as far as the place where the battle of "La Coleta de Vapor" took place.

A few years ago, the Army recovered and restored a few of those boats that sank there, and they are exhibited in the battlefield, now considered a historical place.