Monday, May 24, 2010

Paraguay observations

Paraguay has tons of quirky things:

-At least here in San Salvador, they never plan ahead cooking. They’ll send the boy to the store for flour, then send him again when they realize they don’t have sugar, then again. This is why I could sit outside and see the same boy pass by 10 times a day or more.

-They don’t drink anything during a meal. They wait until the end and then have a glass of beer or water or whatever. It’s horrible.

-They wipe their mouths with the table cloth during meals. It’s normal. Or, alternatively, they share/pass around a cloth rag/napkin.

-Men can piss anywhere. Saw men pissing next to trees in the park in Asuncion. As long as there is a tree or bush, it’s perfectly acceptable.

-People don’t brush their teeth (at least a large majority in Villarica and the area I am in). Because of this, sometimes when people smile, you’ll see a mouth with only a few teeth. Once they all fall out, they just get dentures. It’s almost like a standard process.

-Many people can do nothing, all day long. Maybe they will drink Mate, or Terere (cold mate). And just watch people and sit outside.

-They share 1 cup. If you go to a bar, use 1 cup and pass it around. Doesn't matter how many people. 1 cup is all for everyone.

-When they drink mate, they put ‘Jujos’ in. A jujo is a guarani word. Anyways, a jujo means a weed. It really can be something you pulled up from the side of the road, anything that is green and might have a flavor to it. Also, they sell them in the stores in packages. You can get a wide variety of types…many I’ve never heard of, plus things like parsley, lemongrass, oregano, and many others. I picked up a bunch to send home. A packet of saffron was about 20 cents!

-The lunch is pretty big, then the dinner is small. However, they have an eating schedule comparable to the US. They don’t eat really late.

-Many people speak Spanish and the native language, Guarani. Both are official languages.

-The southern part of Paraguay grows tons of sugarcane. Though, of the farms I’ve seen, they are still in the stone age technology wise.

-The country is incredibly corrupt. The people are apathetic, and don’t care. They are content to do as they always have done. People don’t pay their taxes, but the government doesn’t pursue them. Most of the income for economic development comes from a few large dams. Each city actually gets a large chunk of money for development from the government, but normally most of this money is never seen through to development because someone along the line pocketed it. If the government wasn’t so corrupt, this country seems like it could go somewhere pretty quickly.

-When I barbecued with a few Paraguayans, they thought it was weird I wanted to put some vegetables on the grill. They eat vegetables and fruits, but not this way.

-The fruits here are a nice change from the nothingness of selection in Argentina. There are many more tropical fruits, some which I have never seen before. Lots of them have Guarani names that are impossible to pronounce (Mb seem to be the first 2 letters of lots of words).

-There was a large electric/thunderstorm the other night. The power went out in all of Paraguay. Its confusing, since they have 2 of the largest hydroelectric dams in the world.

-They eat this thing called Manioca. I’ve seen it in the US. It’s a long, brown root. They peel the skin the boil it for an hour. It tastes like absolutely nothing.

-I taught 2 19 year olds how to tie a tie. Then we flossed our teeth with floss after eating. Then, they showed me you can use a piece of a plastic bag as dental floss. I tried it.

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