Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Blah Blah...Bugs...Rodeo...La Virgen

Hi all. I´m not feeling so hot about this blog. So much happened and this is just like notes. But there´s a balance everyone has to find in living and documenting your living. And with how much time I´ve been spending recording, editing, etc., I just said I´m going to put it out there as is.

This morning I had all my toys out - recorder, camera, laptop, playing with iPhoto, iMovie, etc. I have a media extravaganza going here. I really want to put up some of the audio I´ve taken and definitely the video of the Virgen. In due time...

So, the photos are uploading nor the video. Wha-wha. Some time later this week I´ll try again.

Wednesday, Oct. 1

When you close your eyes at night, there are a few things you might have on your mind, as you enter that defenseless state of sleep.

Depending on where you live, you could have varying levels of fear about a bomb dropping on your house or a robber entering. I think about bugs.

I wonder how long it will take until I wake up with one on my face.

It’s almost 11 at night now, the time I’m usually up, telling myself just one more chapter, the time when it’s just me and the noises.

Right now, it’s a noise like something being dragged across the floor, then stopping. Is that a little noise in my room or a big noise outside?

Outside there’s the groans of the cows, the whinnying of the horses. The chickens and roosters seem to finally shut their mouths at night. Oh wait, no there goes one...then its friends.

Always there’s shuffling of a beetle in my bag, the ping ping of the bugs on my florescent tube light, buzzing looping around.

Tonight I walked in the house, and seeing a cockroach on the floor, I said, “Wow, that a huge-- EEEEEEEEE!” I started squeeling as it took flight.

Ok...that’s definitely from inside my room...going to investigate...

I did my noise-stalking, changing the position of my ears to try and triangulate it’s location, like I´ve done so many times before. This time it seemed like it was coming from inside my big backpack. Knowing that if I whipped open the cover and saw something, I’d scream, I instead grabbed it by the strings and dragged it of my room, putting it in the hallway. I’ll explain to my host family tomorrow.

I can hear crickets outside, and still those roosters and a dog, but inside I only see one moth on the wall.

I’ll go brush my teeth now...Oh, I see a small little insect has drowned in the saliva of my toothbrush.

All you can do is rinse it off, then go to bed and try not to think.

Thursday, Oct. 2: Greetings

My favorite greeting is the put the hand out, then kind of shake and at the same time go in for the double kiss.

Sometimes you put your hand out, and people just go for the kiss, and your still kind of holding it there between you like it’s in a sling.

Then sometimes, people want the handshake only.

Sometimes I forget and just go in for the hug. I did this yesterday, saying goodbye on the street to a cute Yataity townie. I went in for a quick friendly hug and he ends up kissing my ear.

Sunday, Oct. 5

I have begun to accept the ignorance of what the hell is going on at any given time, and that’s helped.

Back home, we have expectations. We know how Christmas is going to go, we saw it on tv. We know how Valentine’s Day is supposed to go. We’re shown the memories we’re going to have.

Back home, we have dissappointment, because it’s never how we expected.

So it’s freeing, exciting, that I never see what’s coming.

I knew from the carnival set up in the church yard, ferris wheel and all, that something was set to happen this weekend.

Turns out it’s the Festival Patronal, whatever that is.

This morning the family asked if I was going to go to their grandfather’s house for our Sunday asado. We get there, and the next thing you know we´re riding somewhere else, with someone who I think might be an uncle, in a Mercedes. Where we´re going, I don´t know.

We stopped halfway to Villarica at a shop where a guy held up cuts of meat for the man to choose. We bought 7 kilos (about 15 pounds) of meat for 92 mil.

During the meal, there was a parade

There was a parade with the Virgin, a paper mache doll, held above the heads of those walking.

Before the food was ready my host sister and I went to our friend’s house, and her mother told me the virgin was there. Why didn’t I come by?

“She was here? Why didn’t she call me?”

The joke went over like a lead balloon.

We took a huge jug of terere into the plaza and just sat on the bench, passing around the guampa. Looking around.

The girls talked about “churros,” or cute guys, whispering and giggling. It reminded me of a story my traveling friend Kati told me about her trip to the Phillipines. There was a similar moment in a group of girlfriends where she realized it’s exactly the same, in whatever language, on whatever continent.

My host sister and I went back to her grandfather’s house for brunch, a tradition I’ve come to love. Two long tables put together, three different kinds of meat, lots of Guarani I don’t understand.

There’s so much life cycling. There are the dogs and the grandfather, the puppies and the grandchildren. Flowers. Plants. Chickens.

Every once in a while someone yells to my younger host sister, Larissa, to bring the rubia. So I go, never knowing what I’m about to see.

Today one of the aunts took me to a tree that looked like it had grapes glued all over it, right to the main branches. We picked off some of the fruit and ate it, after I received a lesson about which parts to eat and which parts to spit out.

That night I went back to the fair with Nancy and two other friends. I thought we had missed the second rodeo. We were just hanging out, looking for churros (hot guys), when suddenly we saw people standing on the railing, gathering out front where there were about 50 motorcycles parked, and where the guys with the huge speakers in their cars were showing off.


We were 100 feet off, but they waved me over. And we stood next to the fence, peering at a girl trying to talk her boyfriend out of fighting while the crowd looked on.

Am I really doing this right now?

The Rodeo

We had not missed the rodeo, as I found out when we walked to the cemetery yard, where strung lights criss-crossed a bowl of stadium seating made of planks. In the center was a ring of wood and wire and a rodeo clown speaking Guarani into the microphone.

We sat on widely spaced planks that sagged every time the music started and the girl next to me started to dance.

The rodeo was kind of a mix of bull fight and rodeo. I don´t like the treatment of the animals – it seems to me like a jazzed-up version of boys throwing rocks at a street dog – but the fact that they were in there with angry bulls was something worth my 20 mil to see.

Bulls are huge. Sometimes, I’m walking down the street here, and I’ll think I see someone approaching out of the corner of my eye. Then I look up, and it’s a cow. It startles me every time.

And at night, when I walk from the separate kitchen to the house, the cows are sleeping right next to the fence, and I understand the word massive a little better.

People started lining up against the inner wall, meaning the people behind them couldn’t see. There was this one guy, who kept getting up to yell at the people in front of them. He was a local hero to his section. An hour in, people were seven deep standing all around, and he had parted the seas. It got to where he didn’t even sit anymore, just stood, waiting for his duty to call. That became a secondary show. He eventually lost the battle. But the whole time it was one of those awkward scenes that became like a secondary show.

Tuesday, Oct. 7: On the other side of the coin...

Not knowing where you’re going also means not knowing what you’re in for. Last night we went to the church for some event, I didn’t know. We stood in the back of the packed church for the longest time while my back ached from stepping up the yoga, watching a huge line of people take communition. This guy in front of me kept turning around and looking at me in a way I did not like. I nodded, like, Yes I see you there. Once I almost said, “Que quiere?” What do you want?

Suddenly I was suffering from my “social closterphobia,” where I’m in an uncomfortable situation and leaving would cause some kind of social weirdness, so I just stay and suffer my mental complaints.

I excused myself for a minute to call Sasha and blow off some steam. The carnival was going on outside still. The little boys had guns from the little shops, light in weight but realistic, from glocks to full-on semi-automatic molds of plastic. Some had them tucked in their pants.

Sasha lamented my situation and told me to give the guy the crazy face. The key, she told me, is that I have to look indignant.

We took a break to go a friends house and make some mate. At that house, my friend showed me some pink cloth and said that those were the clothes the virgen wore last year, pink Ao Poi. We came back with chairs to watch a show of Paraguayan dancing and singing. The girls danced in Ao Poi skirts pulled straight out on both sides.

At some point it became clear that we were waiting for the Virgin. Every once in a while the MC would say, “Que vive la Virgen! Que vive Yataity!”

After the show, people started making their way toward a cleared path lined with flowers. The man with the microphone on stage was saying thank you to the Virgin, for protection, for the happiness of the community. Then the bell started sounding. Fireworks blasted from the park. The man with the microphone was yelling. People were pressing in. A siren started like it was a techno song. Confetti fell from the bell tower.

From the doorway in the church emerged men with her on their shoulders, the same statue that seemed to me like paper mache when I saw it at the parade.

People waved.

They walked her up and down the aisle in all the blaze of it, people waving white cloth. They faced her to each section of the crowd.

And as the man on stage yelled, ´´Gracias Virgencita! Gracias!´´ The figure dissappeared again into the church doors.

Photos: Church carnival; swing ride, kitch for sale; guns, bbs and Mary clocks; and somewhere in Paraguay, my old car shows up (I will have a dream that night that I go back to St. Augustine and steal a Honda Civic.)

1 comment:

Jeri Jones said...

Hi Paulette,
I find it so interesting that there are dance clubs in Paragray! Not something i really ever thought about. It is so cool you are learning the langguage and culture now, which is so different from our own. Loved your thoughts on what is considered rude. When i lived in thailand, i learned a lot about cultural differences. They laugh when they are expressing sadness, like someone was just killed in an auto accident and the thai people laugh. that was hard to get used to. it is so hard not to judge based on what we consider is appropriate behavior or reaction. You are learning a lot, honey, and the lessons will last a lifetime. love you and miss you, Jeri