Wednesday, October 22, 2008
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 Asunción.