Saturday, December 1, 2012

Riding in a car

The most beautiful days are the ones when it rains and rains all afternoon and you set your buckets around the house to catch drips and then take a nap and then wake up about an hour and a half before sunset. Then the sun starts to come out before the rain stops even. It is all golden light and a (double!) rainbow lights up in the west. After the day of rain everything is clean and shiny and sparkly and the colors glow with an almost psychedelic brilliance. The puddles reflect the crazy-blue sky and the towering clouds which are at once white, black, yellow, pink and orange. Water trickles through the cobblestones of the streets and a chorus of cicadas and frogs begins as the sun goes down. People come out from their houses after a day shut inside to talk and cook and enjoy the cool evening.

Today was like that and also Thursday.

This evening my neighbors invited me to drive out to their parents' house about 8km outside of town. It is on a cobblestoned road and is passable even after the rain. My neighbors have a nice, clean new car. I wish they didn't park it on my lawn, but well, this is the urban life. But we drove out together in twilight lovely countryside. At the parents house we drank mate and ate honey comb found wild in the woods the day before and savory cornbread (sopa paraguaya). I was the only one who put the honey on my cornbread, which I said was an American custom. I saw fireflies and relished not hearing motorcycles, dogs, sub-woofers, water pumps.
The most striking part of the evening was the simple, nearly forgotten pleasure of riding in a car. In a nice, new, clean car like you would often encounter in the USA. We Americans are raised in cars, we go on so many of our journeys in cars. Tonight was the first time in probably 3 months that I've ridden in one. Nothing could feel more comfortable and correct than a satisfied ride home through the night in those fuzzy grey seats. That is a part of me that goes deep, deep down. It is striking that on such a Paraguayan day the swirling currents of the 21st century global industrial economy would send up to me an experience which was so profoundly familiar in such a distant place.

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