tv Anthony Bourdain Parts Unknown CNN January 1, 2016 2:00pm-3:01pm PST
i'm told you are a man who can help me. some time in mid 19th century, 1850s, my great, great grandfather emigrated to south america. he was reported to have died here. might have been a seeker of utopian dreams. you know, my aunt used to tell stories he was into arms smuggling, or who knows. no idea.
for most people, paraguay is an empty space on a map of latin america. ♪ a country of only 6 million, where a vast percentage of the land is steaming hot jungle or a huge scrub desert known simply as the chaco. only a few large cities offer a respite from the oppressive heat. ♪ [ singing in foreign language ] >> 1,000 miles upriver from the atlantic ocean sits paraguay's remote capital city.
known largely for being a post-war refuge for fleeing nazis and a long line of extremely unpleasant dictators, this place of all the places in the world is where my great, great, great-grandfather disappeared without explanation sometime in the 1850s. ♪ i'm told you are a man who can help me. how do you do? >> may i call you tony? >> please. >> you are for the first time in the country? >> first time in paraguay, yes. >> this has always been like the central switchboard, a gathering place. ladies in orange vests cook and serve old-school, working class food to people of every walk of life. >> this place is very unique. i've been here for more than 50
years. >> all right. let's get something to eat. i'm hungry. >> okay. >> big envelopes of dough filled with beef, onion, and hard-cooked egg, deep fried to perfection. cattle is the big business of this country, it used to be cattle and smuggling. these days it's still cattle and some smuggling. you see a lot of beef is what i'm saying. mm, oh, that's good. this country is a mystery to most people. what little we know of the country generally comes from nazis and germans hiding in paraguay from war crimes. do you think that's an undeserved reputation? >> i don't think that's fair. paraguay is a nice country. paraguay is a beautiful country. >> pedro is a private investigator. one of the people i sent out looking for the mysterious lost bourdain. >> what types of investigations are you called upon to do? >> normally counterfeiting. >> this is sort of the counterfeiting capital of the world.
in the old days it was said that much of this counterfeiting had partners in the government. not so much anymore? >> i rather don't answer that. i mean, i'm not a politician. and i live here, so -- >> general alfredo stroessner was the last of his kind in paraguay. of german heritage he ruled the country until 1989 with a quiet bavarian charm. but behind the scenes was another thing. utilizing an outfit of ss police referred to as the hairy footed ones he or turfed and tossed dissidents out of helicopters over the jungle and the list goes on. under him, one in four paraguayan are said to have cooperated willingly or not as paid informers on their fellow citizens. it's quite a history in this country. crazy, quiet, tragic. >> things are changing a lot. and now things are getting
straight. >> sometime in mid 19th century, 1850s. my grandfather emigrated to south america, first in argentina but apparently came here. that's really almost all i know for sure. he died by the sword? did he die of old age? did he die of syphilis? i have no idea. i'd like to know. i'd love to find a grave site. that would be great. my father died in '57. his father in, i think, in his 20s, i believe. i'll be 58 in june. i think i'm the longest-living male bourdain in possibly ever. >> so you're lonely in the world? >> i am lonely in the world, yes. if i could solve the mystery of the elusive jean bourdain, it
would be make me very happy. by the way, it would be terrific if you found out he owned a huge ranch in the chaco and they're waiting for his relatives to claim his property? [ laughter ] maybe not. i'm trying to make some sense of this country. you've lived here how long? >> i'm since 22 years, too long maybe. what a strange and nice country. >> go to paraguay, find a german to show you around. not so crazy or unrepresentative. people came to this country from everywhere, to as, emerson called it, make their own world. peter, i'm tony. >> nice to meet you. >> so what's good to eat here? >> i suppose you want something paraguayan? >> yes. >> beef, a roast rice with fried beef with egg on top. >> i'm there. good.
>> and there is a soup whose name is bori-bori. that's very, very old paraguayan stuff. little corn balls. >> that looks good. that looks very good. >> yeah. >> it's good, man. ♪ i'm trying to make some sense of this country. you've lived here how long? >> 22 years. >> why did you come here in the first place? >> i was born in east germany, and east germany that meant you will never go out. then in '89, the wall break down. and say wow, you will go! >> i haven't seen anything of this country yet, but what i read was the world's backwater filled with bombed-out banks that had been looted. institutions that didn't work. everyone carried a gun. it was like the wild west but poorer. it's not like that any more? >> a bit of this is true.
i, by myself, got a .45 on my head last week. that's really common for me. >> seldom in the history of the world do i see the most maniacal, insane, suicidal group of dictators century after century. >> you are right. even in stressful times, the better part of paraguayans was behind him. paraguayans are very, very easy to influence. and this is, i believe, unchanged until a short time ago. now there is a growing middle class, better education than before, and that makes the people say no. ♪ >> how was the soup? >> i liked it, yes. was the way my wife cooks it.
i like it better with chicken. but chicken is more for saturday. yes, we are twins. when i went on to ancestry, i just put in the name of my parents and my grandparents. i was getting all these leaves and i was going back generation after generation. you start to see documents and you see signatures of people that you've never met. i mean, you don't know these people, but you feel like you do. you get connected to them. i wish that i could get into a time machine and go back 100 years, 200 years and just meet these people. being on ancestry just made me feel like i belonged somewhere. discover your story. start searching for free now at ancestry.com.
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paraguay was a very poor country. the spaniards came because there was a lot of silver in the area. they found nothing, so they lost interest in paraguay. ♪ >> this is the only country in latin america where the indigenous language is the official language. >> i'm married to a paraguayan woman and when the fathers come in, they automatically talk in the language, and i'm more or less out. >> a proud society. >> yes. >> el supremo. got to love it.
a nearly 200 year succession of di ta tors began in 1811 when declaring himself el supremo for life. de franceive a insisted they become a mixed-race society. we are mestizos. they for bid marrials between whites and whites. >> today 95% of paraguayans are of mixed spanish and guarany blood. >> and we usually speak two languages. >> right. >> the central market? >> the biggest one. the most popular one. ♪
>> i'm hungry. >> what's good here? >> we opted for the little fish. it's a catfish. and, okay. the saying is that it makes man very powerful. >> ah. what's he got over there? that looks good. >> gnocchi stew. there was a good italian influence in paraguay, so maybe this stew comes from this side. colonies from all over the world. >> so you invite them, give them the catfish soup. [ laughter ] ♪ mario, could you pass me the paraguayan soup? >> soup. >> it's very unique. >> our dictator lopez, his favorite soup was corn soup. and one day he ordered his
favorite soup and the cook, when he opened the pot, ah, it was a cake. >> paraguay has not been noted for its history of kinder, gentler leaders. in the 1800s, two generations of lopez, father and son, one dictator after the other, certainly left their marks on this country. >> lopez was known for putting a wrong stamp on the letter you get shot. the cook didn't want to get shot. he showed up in front of lopez and said this is paraguayan soup. and the dictator ate it and he liked it. and a bit later, the entire country eat it. >> it's like cheesy cornbread. >> yes. >> awesome. good meal. ♪ >> so this was the house or one
of the houses of the notorious madam lynch? >> yes. exactly. >> journalist, poet and author -- has written books on paraguay's history. >> who now who exactly was madam lynch? a murky background, would you say? >> there's a lot of talk about that. somebody say he was a bright woman or an evil one. >> she came over on the famous trip from france? >> right. >> in the 1840s, lopez senior reversed many of paraguay's isolationist policies. he invited foreigners to settle here. he built one of south america's first railways. its steam engines taken out of service only a few years ago. and he said his son, francisco solano lopez to europe. his mission, his father sent him out to get what? >> arms and technicians. engineers. and machinery. >> junior, by most contemporary
accounts, was an idiot. >> so he came back with a mistress, madam lynch. >> yes. >> which dad wasn't too happy about. >> right. ♪ >> he was very traditional, and wanted his son to marry a paraguayan woman and do everything by the book. >> right. >> paraguay's soon to be first mistress, madam eliza lynch was the already-married daughter of an irish doctor. ambitious, social climbing, fond of nice things. >> clothes imported from france. they say she brought paraguay the first tiara. and there were parties here.
>> he showed madam lynch to his father, and his father was upset. so she was put aside. >> and kept as a mistress? >> and that was the way paraguayan society wanted to treat her. and she wanted to be treated as the -- >> princess? >> yes. >> tell me about madam lynch's famous boat trip. on one of her more notorious ventures as hostess, she organized a grand outing to the new french colony at nuevo bordeaux. she wanted all of society to join her? >> right. >> magnificent river steamer was engaged for the party. >> there were ladies and madam lynch. >> once on board, as the story goes, those mean bitches treated their hostess like so much trash. >> so she got upset and threw
off board all of the food that was, they were supposed to eat. >> she had it all thrown in the river? >> yes. [ laughter ] >> then she ordered the captain to stop the boat and let her guests just sit there in that jungle heat for hours. >> throwing tubs of caviar, whole roasted pigs into the river in front of these starving aristocrats, somehow that pleases me. ♪
♪ going back to the very beginning, various groups with stars in their eyes came here seeking to create a utopia along ideological lines. a mennonite paradise. repop late latin america with british, italians, everybody. >> it started with the jesuit colonies. >> the new bordeaux. i had a great, great, great grandfather come over to paraguay around the 1850s. >> right. >> might have been, himself, a seeker of some kind of utopian dreams. >> are they originally from france?
>> from france, yes. >> what city, do you know? >> my great, great, great grandfather was from near bordeaux. so i'm curious about this whole episode about the settlement of new bordeaux. ♪ ♪ >> the paraguay river, still as it was 150 years ago, the country's main artery, a thoroughfare for transporting people and goods. ♪
>> so who lives out there? >> all the people we see fishing out on the river banks, are they fishing for dinner? >> most of them are fishing for dinner. call them poor people, but what is poor? they decide for themselves to live here. they could go and start working on a construction place tomorrow. >> he has organized a trip upriver to see new bordeaux, what was hoped would be a new france in the chaco. >> fish we bought today, 14 kilo. >> right. >> that's half a month's salary, and you get with bit of good luck in one night. >> right. ♪
♪ >> outside of the cities, paraguay is, of course, sparsely populated. indigenous groups, a few settled europeans, mennonites, germans, and every so often, a fishing lure and shotgun salesman. what are the shotguns for? bandits? varmints? what? >> to hunt deer and water pig, capybara. >> that's a peacemaker. any rogue nazis we could shoot? no? >> i am tempted by the offer of a cheap shotgun for sale and it figures that peter knows this guy but reason wins out. i don't think we're going to buy a shotgun today. me, beer, shotgun, hot sunny day, a producer?
that's not a good mix. ♪ >> unlike madam lynch's guests, i'm making damn sure i'm eating on this boat trip. ah, the most important part of any meal, cold, frosty beverages. >> you already had one. >> i started early. here. cheers. oh, here we go. thank you. little fish in a mango salsa. ♪ >> you have the two most appreciated fish on the table here of paraguay. that's the catfish. >> and that? >> that's the dorado. >> oh, of course, yes. oh, that's tasty. that's nice.
so i'm curious about this whole episode of the settlement of new bordeaux. >> there came about 400 people. they were supposed to be about 1,000. they were supposed to be most of them farmers. but just 86 were farmers. >> who were the other people? >> they were tailors, they were shoe makers, musicians. >> teachers and artists, and they was put in the jungle and left by themselves. >> why here of all the places in the world? people talk about the chaco as hell. ♪ i mean, it's hot here. it's dry. it's wet. it's fetid. if's difficult. >> mosquitoes. and you have all the ticks and vermin. >> a flatland of cactus and thorns and misery and cannibals.
>> there were the indians coming down the river and killing everybody. there was the langua who if you entered the country, you are good food. >> right. did the paraguayans ever see this as a utopia? >> no. >> i'm sure not. >> what we have is nueva bordeaux. >> wow. that's kind of not how i pictured it. doesn't look like bordeaux to me. ♪ >> there's nothing much left of nuevo bordeaux. i'm told a small museum of artifacts. the site where the colony once briefly existed is now called -- >> was stealing money from each settler.
>> perhaps there was a communication breakdown somewhere, and he might have told the paraguayans, i'm bringing the finest farmers france has to offer and he might have told these french men, they're going to give you free property. you don't have to do anything, live like kings. you reach up into the trees and fruit and gold bars are just dropping? >> it's possible. [ dogs barking ] >> in fact, there was thrown out in the cold and say here you are. that's your land. go ahead. >> these poor french guys show up. >> right. >> lopez senior, and the government kept their side of the bargain. they provided them with houses, equipment. >> tools and animals and everything.
>> my aunt used to have one of these, made pressed sandwiches i think. and that's it. okay, now, dig, grow. the settlers quickly discovered that farming was hard work and the conditions in the chaco in no way resembled the new france of their dreams. >> so they get broke and they decide to leave the colony. >> how many french were left at the end of the new bordeaux experiment? did any stay? >> some of them, but few. >> all right. any thoughts or hopes that jean bourdain ended his life here leaving me a vast, unclaimed stake in what is now prime cattle country turns quickly to dust. ♪
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so, you guys have some information perhaps on my elusive jean bourdain, i hear? >> mm-hm? >> yeah. i don't know what he did here. of course i'm hoping for something extremely glamorous, a river pirate, gun runner, drug smuggler, maybe he died in the saddle. maybe he died happy. maybe he lived out in the bush, surrounded by adoring indigenous women. i don't know. if he was a masseur for madame lynch, i guess i would be let down. >> i contacted with other historians and genealogists around the world and the history of your family is very interesting. >> oh, really? >> yeah. >> okay.
interesting. >> your family, your grandfather jean bourdain came to montevideo following the son. >> the facts as i know them so far, i think are this. my great, great, great granddad, jean, his son, also named jean came to uruguay to live with his uncle. >> 1850, john bourdain moves. >> this is the document we have showing him arriving. >> there he is. >> in that time, he works with a -- >> with a hat maker. >> hat maker? i'm pretty sure he said hat maker, which i have to say disappoints me, like a lot. the whole elusive wing of south american bourdains were "project runway" contestants of their day? >> in 1855 lopez son arrives
with madame lynch. >> madame lynch was fond of things like french couture. >> yes. and that changed the way of dress. >> madam lynch might have been good for business. i try to put this in a light i can be enthusiastic about, like how clearly forward-thinking my relatives were. his customers were a hat maker, the very people that treated madam lynch with utter contempt, did they live in the old colonial homes, the mansions we see still? that type of residence? >> yes. >> times were changing in south america too, in those days. society ladies craved the latest in french fashion. there was money to be made. ah, i'm bummed. ♪ >> after this episode with the new bordeaux group came a triple alliance war. >> jean bourdain died in 1858. >> yes. >> it was a good time to die,
this way he didn't have to join this horrible war. >> he missed the war. >> yes. the old lopez died. the young lopez got in power. >> our man becomes president? >> yes, francisco lopez. >> absolutely the most maniacal, megalomaniacal. pisspot dictator. >> you are right. siblings. unkind to his >> his brothers were killed. his sisters were jailed in tiger cages. >> tiger cages. >> tiger cages. and their mother was given some beating. >> some 50, 60-year-old mother flogged in front of them. not a nice man. >> it was believed he had a chance to be married with the daughter of the emperor of brazil. >> he was refused in very unflattering terms.
thanks presumably to lopez junior's expansionist ambitions he dragged paraguay into a triple alliance war. he challenged all three neighbors. >> brazil, argentina and uruguay -- >> to war. this doesn't seem like a good idea. >> no. >> right. >> in what would become the bloodiest war in latin america's history, hundreds of thousands of paraguayans died. when lopez ran out of adults, he sent children into the field, dressed only in rags, armed with sticks painted to look like guns. >> my great grandfather was a 10-year-old boy, and he was dressed like a girl because otherwise he was going to be enrolled in the army. >> lopez, he was eventually hunted down. madam lynch survived? >> yes, she survived. >> with her money? she was allowed to keep her possessions? >> yes.
>> in history, it's hard to find a more disastrous or more cruel or pointless campaign, it would seem. >> when all was said and done, as much as 60% of the population and 90% of the men of this country were dead. ♪ >> the survivors were just like 50 or 40,000 people. so that's why you could easily understand why there was nothing here for a hundred years. ♪
>> this is it. the legendary lovito. >> right. that's what the people eat in the streets. >> an egg, a little runny, please. some kind of meat like beef patty thing. throw on your lettuce and tomato. two sauces, no idea what they are, and i don't care. soy sauce i think too, because, yes. layered like the ruins of ancient troy. egg on top of cheese on top of meat. now get in my stomach now! mm. sandwich is awesome. >> awesome, good? >> good awesome. all my greasy meat dreams have come true. that's good. and at the last minute, the last thing i give a steaming loaf about anymore is my long-dead relatives. i mean, i'm over it. here comes news of the big breakthrough. >> i talked with the historian, and he said it looks like your great-grandfather, what he was
merchandising, it was definitely not hats. >> really? >> we have here jean bourdain. >> right. >> and what is he bringing? 200 boxes of fireworks. >> fireworks? >> fireworks. >> like firecrackers? >> there is not even more than 200 or 300 wealthy families who sometimes in the birthday would crack a little bit. >> uh-huh. so are you suggesting something untoward? >> weapons. >> weapons. >> yeah. >> he was a merchant of death? awesome. my aunt always said he was a gun runner. we figured she was full of it. she also said she was in the resistance, but everybody in france said that. arms. so was he ever a hat maker? was this a cover job? was he a hat maker/arms?
are all these local historians, researchers and geniuses on the money here? was great, great, great grampy an arms dealer? so what hat maker needs 200 tons of gun powder? i've got you now jean bourdain. i've got you now. >> or was he a party supplier, selling fine french hats and firecrackers to school kids? i don't know what to believe. >> and in '58, he died. >> right. >> and he was buried, here, two miles from here in the rich people's cemetery. we can pretty well say in which area he remains. >> he is there. >> wow.
[ animal sounds ] ♪ >> there's no escaping it. paraguay loves their beef. perfect ratio, lot of meat, little bit of vegetables. perfect. oh, whoa, that's good. >> this is the. [ speaking foreign language ] a sprawling ranch and it's been in the family back to the war. >> hard life? >> no, we are happy. we have everything. >> 20 years ago, it was not used. in the last years, it's booming.
>> where does the boom come from? >> we are the second biggest soybean exporter, eighth biggest cattle supporter. paraguay feeds the entire world for eight days a year. >> how many akers? >> 100,000 hectares. >> i could eat this all day. and i will. >> barbecue. you are complete. [ laughter ] >> it's good. ♪ ♪ >> mmm, that's awesome. so were there a lot of vegetarians in this part of paraguay?
[ laughter ] >> here comes the highlight. >> oh, look at that. pretty. beef short ribs are amazing. mmm, so good. ♪ >> all of the books i read about paraguay are maybe 15 years old. the first thing, everybody has to go and buy a gun. [ speaking foreign language ] >> this was not the paraguay i expected at all. >> he wants to sing a song for