Sunday, March 8, 2009

Weekend Shutdown

Normally Saturday and Sunday are very busy times in the States. People flock to the stores, malls, theatres, and anywhere else they want to go because they have the time but mainly because everything is open. Stores on Saturdays generally offer extended hours to accommodate the increase in window-shopping traffic. Sundays, although generally not quite as busy as their weekend counterpart, still offer a wide variety of things to do to pass the time.

Paraguay, however, likes to take it slow on the weekend. Nothing, and I mean nothing, is open on Saturday and Sunday. Apparently, taking a day of rest is so important and cherished that Paraguayans take two. Not that I can blame them, however. It is rather nice knowing that you can relax for two straight days—whether you want to or not. In the interest of full disclosure I must mention the exceptions to the the-entire city-is-closed rule and that is the one thing directly related to the States: malls and movies. You may escape the summer heat or lack of anything else to do by visiting the mall, doing some shopping, and taking in a movie. Not a bad idea for a Saturday or Sunday afternoon.

I think a big reason nothing is open on the weekends is because it is prime assado (b.b.q.) time. Most Paraguayans will wake up early to grill what seems the equivalent of a half of a cow and spend the rest of the day eating and spending time with friends. It’s quite the tradition and quite the sight. In fact, it is ubiquitous to the point that every home comes equipped with a built-in grill specifically designed for assados. With such a strong tradition of passing weekends with friends it is no wonder that the country virtually shuts down two days out of the week.

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