Tuesday, July 15, 2008

How many Paraguayans can fit on a bus?


If you can touch any part of the bus, it´s going!

The Paraguayan bus system is privately owned and operated. Basically, anyone can buy a bus, register it (which I´m sure is not hard to do) and start picking people up. If you can stand on it, it´s fair game as a bus stop. And the bus stops anywhere and everywhere... I mean, ANYWHERE AND EVERYWHERE. If you are getting on, be sure to grab on tight because as soon as the driver thinks you have a good enough hold, he takes off. If you are getting off, try to scope out a good place to land, because your way of disembarking is just short of a tuck and roll. If you are on your way to a restaurant, or to go shopping, don´t be suprised if you have everything you were looking for by the time you´ve reached your destination. On a Paraguayan bus you will see everything being sold, from underwear... to lottery tickets... to toys... to tv antenas... and of course, "CHIPA!!!!" (Chipa is a Paraguayan bread that comes in many shapes. It`s baked, and sometimes stuffed with meat and cheese. Best when eaten hot... or made by the man with the curly mullet in Guarambare)

My feeling right now is that everyone should, in some point in their life, make a trip to Paraguay. There is a lot to be said about a country that, to be honest, few people know anything about. I admit that when I recieved my Peace Corps invitation my reaction was, "Awesome, Paraguay!... wait, where is that?"

I could try so hard to explain to those readers I have out there what it is like to be a Paraguayan. But I would fail, miserably... because what I have experienced thus far is pure emotion. Good, bad, and everything in between. To be a Paraguayan is to understand those feelings you get when you hear the words Lopez... Chaco... Stroessner... Colorado. It amazes me how a country so rich in history (with all of it´s not so happy endings) could be ignored by the rest of the world. Sure we don´t have beautiful beaches lined with tiki torches. But, we can sure as hell light anything we want on fire. And sure, we eat mandioca and bread with EVERYTHING. Yes, pretty much anything that would insult an American is a compliment here. And no, no one shows up for anything on time (except futbol games). However, we have... we have... umm, I have 2 years to get back to you on that one.

Actually, all jokes aside, Paraguay is very interesting. This country is one of few where it´s people´s behaviors, beliefs, and ways of life are soley the result on internal influences. What other country has dating days? Yes... dating days: If you are seen with the opposite sex (not being your spouse of course) on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, or Sunday, it will assumed by EVERYONE that you are dating. And I cannot forget Friday, that is reserved for your special "someone on the side." I almost made the mistake the second week I was here of going to a male friend´s house for lunch on a Tuesday. Something as simple as lunch could have ended in wedding invitations!

I am so very excited to share these stories, and thank you for taking the time out to learn about Paraguay. I will try to have a balance of history, gossip, and all that jazz in posts to come.


Also: Sorry for the bad spelling. Spell check does not want to work... and I was never a fan of bees.

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