For most of the year Paraguay is a hot and sunny place. Despite this it does though have a winter.

Winter in Paraguay is agreed to run from June to August. However just because it is winter does not mean that the land must be cold every day.

In fact the weather remains quite agreeable for most of the winter months. The only real hardship is the shortened hours of daylight. It becomes dark before the afternoon has had the proper time to finish.

Instead the cold of winter arrives in the form of a number of sharp cold snaps spread randomly across the winter months. Their sudden arrival and the speed with which temperatures drop make the cold seem all the more chilling.

This winter weather originates far away. Out on the stormy South Atlantic. From there it is blow up and over Argentina before finally reaching Paraguay.

The long overland journey the cold air must take on its way to Paraguay drains away all its moisture. By the time it reaches Paraguay it is cold and very dry air. It never snows here.

Winter spells do though bring thick grey clouds which cover the sky for days on end. The sun is blocked out and unable to reheat the land.

Wind also always heralds the arrival of a cold snap. A strong, dry south wind that can blow for days on end. This is what really chills the land and it inhabitants.

It also means that the tropical plants that grow so well in Paraguay struggle to survive through winter. Especially up in the highlands where there is little shelter from the winds and where it is always a few degrees cooler anyway.

I cannot grow such things as mango, pawpaw and banana. They would never survive more than a couple of winters.

Also at this time all across the land the green grass turns to yellow straw. All it moisture driven off and a fire hazard until the spring rains arrive encouraging new growth.

Fortunately as the cold of winter is due to the arrival of air masses it is over once they have gone.

After two or three days the wind drops and the clouds start to thin. Then warmer air replaces the cold and the sun can get to work reheating the land. Within a few days it can be 30 degrees once more.

Along with the plants the people of Paraguay suffer in winter.

With the land being a hot place for the great majority of the year buildings are built to cope with heat not cold.

Walls are just one brick thick to stop houses turning into ovens in the summer times and window and door frames have gaps through which a cooling breeze can get inside.

In the face of an icy blast these both make a Paraguayan house colder inside than an insulated one. The cold soon seeps through the brickwork chilling the air inside the house and keeping it cold long after the sun has returned. As for those fresh air permitting frames, they now allow the wind to blow right through the house.

On the people also struggle to keep warm. There is little market for proper warm clothes in a sub tropical country. Few people will own anything like a thick jumper or even heavy weight trousers.

Instead a solution is found in the form of layers. Several tops, a couple of coats and maybe even a couple of pairs of trousers. On the bed will be thrown an extra blanket or two.

If I take a trip into town on a winter day I will be greeted by the sight of people moving uncomfortably under many layers of clothing. The day time temperature might remain above freezing but when you spend most of your life under a burning sun it feels far colder.

Indoors though these days people sit huddled round charcoal fires trying ti keep warm. Even indoors and sometimes even in beds coats are kept on.

The bed is of course with extra blankets somewhere to retreat until the worst is over. On a cold winters day the streets are quite quiet.

During the day temperatures remain, however slightly, above freezing. It is only after dark that they fall below zero. This coupled with the strong wind that finishes off the delicate plants. It may also leave a small layer of ice upon any shallow pools of still water.

This then is winter in Paraguay. Not long and unrelenting but short and sharp.

For a few days everyone is chilled to the bone. Then it passes and all can rise from hibernation and carry on with their lives.