Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The People I Meet

Everyone in this city has a story. I hear  of the most amazing things and the people seemingly take it for granted as if it is normal. When I meet someone, I just never know what their story will be!

For instance, the other night at a home Bible study I over hear my son in law in conversation with a young man who was speaking Spanish and sipping his mate. One would assume he was a typical Paraguayan, whatever that is, until he throws out an English word. Perfect English.

My son in law asks, "Where did you learn your English?"

Young man answers, "Zimbabwe."

I am sure I heard that incorrectly! Then my son in law asks, "What were you doing in Zimbabwe?"

"I was born there."

OK then...

So the young man continues, "My father is Australian so we grew up speaking English at home, and various African languages. Swahili, Zulu... then we moved to Paraguay and lived in the Chaco and I learned Spanish and some Guarani. I decided to go to school in Brazil so I had to learn Portuguese. I met my wife in Brazil! Here let me introduce you."

And he calls over a lovely young lady with a small daughter and new born son.

"This is my wife," he says, "She's Brazilian." 

I used to think I had an interesting pedigree . Cherokee great grandma married to a German whose son married a Scotch - Irish, but now it sounds a little lame.

But then again, I made it to Ciudad del Este myself! That must count for something, kinda like an international MISFITS Merit Badge!


Gringo said...

IIRC, I once sat next to someone from Zimbabwe/Rhodesia on a flight to/from Buenos Aires. Most likely BA-Salta. It stuck in my mind because it was so unexpected. This was around the time that Rhodesia reverted back to British colony status before becoming Zimbabwe several months later.

In my week or two in Asuncion at the home of a family friend-an American who had a spider's web worth of connections in the city- I was told of a friend of his in Asuncion, a Ukrainian who had survived the Stalin-induced famine in the 1930s. Paraguay definitely has people with interesting histories who turn up there. But I am not telling you anything you didn't already know. [Moverover, as I knew people with such a background back home, it wasn't exotic for me as much as it was just like home. Just interesting to have it in Paraguay.]

From what you relate, Ciudad del Este most likely would beat out Asuncion for the exotic background prize. Someone who speaks both Zulu and Guarani, married to someone who speaks Portuguese but is of Indian [South Asia] origin. The odds of that combination are exceedingly small. Interesting the family from Zimbabwe would end up in the Chaco, as both are subtropical savannas.

Have you read Graham Greene’s Travels With My Aunt, which involves a trip to Paraguay?

Betty said...

That is some story. Amazing how some people love to move from one country to the next and learn so many languages. I am just happy I don´t have to and cherish my home.

Linda said...

People around the world learn many languages...Americans learn English.

Brenda said...

It sounds like such an interesting place to live. And in some way easier than Asuncion because everyone is a little foreign!

Brooke said...

Wow! That guy must have been really smart to keep so many languages straight!

I don't know how YOU do it!

Steve n Vickie said...

People who have been many places deffinately have an intrigue all their own.

firepigette said...

Do they also have a lot in common or is it everyman with their own thing?

My husband is from Curacao where they speak many languages.His mother is a dutch Jew whose family immigrated to Curacao many years ago.His father was a Catholic from Costa Rica whose mother was of Spanish extraction and father a protestant from England.Brian speaks English, Papimento, Dutch, French , and German.He gets by in Italian, and reads Tibetan

The more languages you know the easier it is to learn them.I have a Hungarian friend who speaks a mixture of Brazilian Portuguese, German, Spanish and English all in the same sentences.I got used to understanding her but I don't know how.

Z said...

the richness of living out of the country. I loved it, I'm so happy to hear your stories...this is a really good one!