Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Random Observations


Paraguay

The people here are different than the Venezuelans. It is a subtle difference and I am sure that in my short time here I am only aware of a few of those differences and may even have some very incorrect impressions. So these are merely put forth here as 'impressions'.

They are more casual. Especially in dress. In Venezuela, personal appearance is very important and one does not leave the house with out dressing to the nines! When leaving work, the manual laborer will change into nice clothes before catching the bus home. Even very poor people will try and have something nice that they will wear out in public and if one did not know, they would never guess they lived in a tin shack. You do not just run to the store in flip flops! But here, the people are seen at the grocery store dressed very casually. I have been asked why I am so dressed up all the time. I'm not really...

They are soft spoken and reserved.
( Except about soccer!) Which Venezuelans are not prone to be. Especially in regards to government and politics, it is very hard to get a read on the people. I try not to discuss politics while overseas as a guest in a foreign country. I know how I get annoyed by foreigners telling me how my government should be and what my country should do, so I try not to do that to them here. I have been told that this reserve was learned during the days of the last dictator when it was not wise to voice opinions as one could disappear. There are places still remembered for the torture that went on there. This was not that long ago, so people still remember personal accounts of these happenings.

Women drive motorcycles! Women in suits and high heels! Very strange for me. I do not recall ever seeing women driving motorcycles in Venezuela. Riding with a driver , yes, driving them, and in HEELS..NO!

The neighborhoods are more mixed than in Venezuela
. In Venezuela one would know the economic level of a person just by their address. Here, the rich, middle class, and poor seem to be very integrated. A large quinta will be next to a humble earth walled house. The neighbors will visit each evening by pulling chairs out and sitting on the side walk. No one seems to care if their neighbor is a have or a have not. I find this refreshing! It was pointed out to me that people also treat their maids as friends and even will hire family as house help. I never saw this in Venezuela.

Kissy, kissy! In Venezuela the traditional greeting is a kiss on the cheek, which is more a touching of the cheeks with an air kiss. Here, it is a real kiss on both cheeks. Very important for one not to forget the second kiss or you will find yourself in the awkward situation of being face to face, at close proximity, as they are turning for the second kiss. At church I start to get dizzy from so much kissy, kissy!

Paraguayans are a bit snobbish about food. They seem to not like to try new things and have a lot of strange rules about when to eat certain foods, and what foods may be eaten together and which ones can not. Apparently, avocado is only to be eaten as a sweet.

And so, I am learning! I also have seen a few things that I found rather odd.

On the way home from church Sunday, as we drove by the main gate of the Air Force base, a soldier, dressed in camo fatigues, was riding a horse and herding cows that were grazing on the air base grounds. A soldier cowboy!

Today, I watched a Hummer drive past a horse drawn cart in downtown AsunciĆ³n.

21 comments:

Liz said...

Avocado as a sweet??? you'll have to explain that better Rita!! No me cabe en la cabeza!!!

Jungle Mom said...

Helado de aguacate!!! YUCK!

Obob said...

great observations. it's sad to read that fear of the past dictator still affects their openness. that is something we take for granted here in the States.
keep up the good work

WomanHonorThyself said...

the kissing part is nice..ha

The Localmalcontent said...

It is these observations about other countries that I enjoy the most: The inside of a place, so to speak, instead of generalities, and scenic beaches or tourist destinations.
I especially liked the part about how neighbors pull out their chairs and visit at the sidewalks. My kinda place.

Thank you~!

Pinky said...

I love that the neighbors socialize regardless of socioeconomic status. I wish it were more like that in the States.

MightyMom said...

did you just say avacado ice cream?? ick.

avacados have 1 use and 1 use only

GUACAMOLE!!

Findalis said...

Each nation and sometimes regions of nations have their own customs. You never said which one you prefer better. I'd like to know.

Betty said...

You see it pretty clearly! Amazing in such short time.

firepig said...

Rita, I know in Brazil they make avocado milkshakes.

I would fit in well over there:Sandals, simple clothes,soft spoken,close and equal relationships.....I love it already.

firepig said...

In Brazil they make avocado milkshakes.

I would love it there:

sandals, casual clothes, softly spoken , simple and equal relationships...sounds fantastic!

charles said...

Interesting observations.

Betty said...

Just contacting you this way, because I don´t have your email (I´m writing from work). Is your husband coming today? Will he call me?

Jungle Mom said...

Betty,
NO, they will go up on Monday and stay over 'til Tuesday.

Brenda said...

I have a hard time with their food problems. I like to cook and it offends me when they push my food away in disgust. So I stick to asado and empanadas when entertaining :)

The Hermit said...

I never got tired of seeing how people lived in different countries. I think I counted up 34 countries I lived or worked in during my Marine career. Korea was my least favorite. I think I liked Greece best.

Brooke said...

It's so interesting when you post about culture; I love hearing the differences!

Kepler said...

Hi, JM.
I read once in a book on sociolinguistics about the different levels of language in Paraguay. What I read is that they all speak Spanish and Guarani, some better one or the other, but many tend to prefer one language to speak of certain things and the other other things...even among the same people.
I find that fascinating.
What is your experience?

Jungle Mom said...

kepler, My experiences are still very limited, but it is true that everyone speaks some Guarani. I am told that outside of AsunciĆ³n, it is more prevalent. I have noticed that many modismos are in Gauarani.
I have been very interested in noting so many 'indian' qualities to the culture and am anxious for the time to write about some of them. So far they are merely culture notes on file for later.
I will share one here. The tribal people always refer to each other by their familial relationships. Names are rarely used when in direct conversation. If you are unsure as to the relationship, you will call any one older, Aunt or Uncle. Here, the Paraguayans do the same thing.

Barbara H. said...

I can't imagine avocado as a sweet! Or high-heeled motorcyclists.

I'd have real trouble with the kissy-kissy -- I'm not a very kissy person.

Kath said...

I love reading your blog! I wanted to tell you (and Brenda too) that if you ever meet my mother-in-law, who lives in Asuncion, you can serve her anything you want and she will eat it and ask for more! :)