Monday, May 6, 2013

tetâ hovy'û

What I love about Paraguay

I love long bus rides through the epic plains of Missiones and Paraguari, seeing the isolated forested rocky hills rise mysteriously in the distance.

I love getting warm chipa on those long bus rides.

I love the vigorous chaos of Asunción on a weekday morning.

I love drinking máte on a cool evening with friendly families, talking about anything, looking at pictures, making faces at the kids and walking home under the stars.

I love tereré. I love that people know about medicinal/yummy herbs to pick, mash up, and infuse in the ice water. I love tereré in the shade on a cruelly hot day after walking too far, which is any distance at all. I love mint leaves, lemon leaves, parsley, and other more mysteriously named yuyos in my tereré.

I love bus terminal comedors, where BBQ vendors compete to sell you a roast chicken or sausage and beer while you wait the hours for your bus. I find that a liter of beer makes the wait quite a bit more pleasant. I love the chaotic free-market of the terminal, and the travelers with their bags and their families.

I love the Paraguayan clouds.

I love the Paraguayan sunsets.

I love the ancient, green, slow, impenetrable, ethereal, infinite Paraguay which exists in my head. It's pieced together from all I've read about the history of the country and still exists to in some leeward pockets of hills and rivers away from the highways and cities.

I love being away from the self-obsessed, self-consuming media culture of the USA. I'm still too plugged-in to it, but at least I can just shut the computer and it all disappears.

I love working in a library and having near complete freedom to make it as awesome as possible.

I love being my own boss, mostly.

I love making things for schools or the library with markers, scissors, a ruler, and cardboard or charla paper.

I love inventing things in my house to solve problems that in the States would be solved by buying cheap plastic crap. I love not worrying about what my landlord or the government thinks about what I invent or do to the house.

I love drinking máte or tereré on my front porch, listening to the birds and the neighbors, especially when not-too-many motorcycles are driving by. 

I love the rolling-fields of soy or wheat or sunflowers and the curving green line where they come up against the wooded gullies and streams.

I love green hills and flowering trees.

I love bike rides in the country-side when I feel like I'm a million miles away and all there is is just vast spaces of land and sky all around.

I love family cows with their big beautiful eyes. I love goofy-eared pigs and piglets. I don´t have a lot of love for chickens and roosters.

I love the mostly-local, seasonal produce. I love, depending on the time of the year, watermelon, mango, pineapple or mandarin binges. 

I love passing warm evenings visiting other volunteers, cooking, drinking, laughing, watching movies, sleeping on the floor on foam mattresses borrowed from neighbors.

I love walking all around town, visiting the library, the school, the municipality, a grocery store, and some shops just in the morning. I love exchanging friendly greetings with everyone I meet in these places and everyone I run into in between.

I love the kids. I love it when they call my name when I pass by, when we give each other thumbs-up, all thier big smiles, their excitement, sincerity, and sweetness.

I love the hard-working people who do their job everyday, Saturdays too.

I love that all people want to do on Sundays is get together with their family and friends and have a barbecue.

I love the kindness and the hospitality: all the times I've been offered a meal (or have it just assumed that I would join the meal), been offered a bed to stay the night or sleep the siesta, the importance put in offering guests a place to sit, the times people have come after me to hand me whatever it is (purchase, hat, change, cell-phone, umbrella) that I've forgotten and left behind. I've almost never felt cheated in this country and certainly never because I was foreign.

I'm almost gone. This is my last week in Natalio, then I'll spend another in Nueva Germania and Asunción. I'm trying to take it all day by day and to be generous, thoughtful and grateful.

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