People in Paraguay are the nicest.

Howdy folks, long time no see. I’d like to catch you all up on what’s been happening in great detail, but that would take months and since I have little time, I’ll give you all a brief summary, starting with this post about a particular subject that has made me very happy here…

This is a typical marinera de carne (beef) and is absolutely incredible.

This is a typical marinera de carne (beef) and is absolutely incredible.

Since I last updated this page, I’ve become more accustomed to the Paraguayan culture. I take the bus most places and I drink tereré sometimes. I’ve also made some good friends that have been more welcoming than I could have possibly imagined, and my Spanish has gotten a little better. Sure my brain feels like it’s going to explode any given day, but looking at things in the perspective of the long run, this experience, however unpleasant it may be sometimes (I just want to speak English!) will no doubt reap life changing benefits. But while all those things affect my life in important ways, what I have learned recently has affected it most profoundly.

I really think Paraguay might possibly have the nicest, most laid back people in the world.

Let me illustrate my point a little better. Just the other day, my friend Marcio and I were driving back from a hike (more about that hike later, which in itself was a fantastic experience and a good story). We wanted to get something to eat, so we saw a piece of property with a sign for “chorizitos”, or little sausages. We pulled in the drive, walked up and just peeked our heads in the door with a casual “Buenas!” (which I’d translate as a very informal way of saying hello… along the lines of “Hey there”). The wrinkly old woman puttering around in the kitchen greeted us and asked how she could help us. We told her we saw her sign and were looking to buy some snacks. She responded with “Adelante” which, depending on the context, means “Come on in” or “Go ahead”. In this sense, the former applied and she led us into her backyard where her grandchildren were playing football (soccer) on a grassy uneven field with goals fashioned out of two discarded wooden beams and a piece of plywood nailed across the top to make the arch. On past the children we walked into what appeared to be a shed or extra bedroom at the far end of her property and she pulled out a few cooking sausages from a bin while another family member looked on. We paid a measly one dollar for a few links of sausage and then went back on our way, with her thanking us for stopping by.

Let me repeat the point of this story. People are so nice here. Period. They invite you into their homes without a second guess. If you are lost, “no hay problema” (No problem!). You don’t need a Garmin Nuvi or any other GPS. Just stop and roll down your window and ask anybody passing by. After all, that’s the way that things used to happen and although perhaps it’s lost its practicality back home in the States, it retains its charm here in Paraguay.

So why does this seem so profound to me?

It creates a warm and friendly context for daily life here. Think about it: If you knew that people were going to be friendly to you every day… if that perspective was the norm… how much happier would you be? It can be a cutthroat world out there. Businesses sabotaging each other, sabotaging the customers by thinking of only their own wallets and not the well-being of their customers (i.e. the food industry in the States… more on that later as well), etc. Road rage. Cold feelings to those around you. What seems to be so imperceptible back home may be one of the most insidious social norms that is poisoning our minds. If this get-out-of-my-way sense, this me-first sense could be replaced with a more Paraguayan tranquilo-sense, a no-hay-problema sense (calm, no problem), I can only speculate how things might change for the better.

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