Sunday, September 27, 2009
Friday, September 18, 2009
Saturday, September 12, 2009
The cab driver told me that I still owed him 1000 pesos. Wanting to make sure I understood him correctly, I asked him to repeat what he just said? He said again that I owed him 1000 pesos. Surprised, I asked why I owed the extra money? He told me that the freeways were in fact toll roads and that I owed him for those tolls. I asked why he did not tell me this beforehand so I could decide whether to take said toll roads (and incur the extra charges) or stick to the surface streets. Instead of answering my question he pointed to the bill and told me that I owed him more money. Refusing to yield, I kept asking him why he didn't tell me about the extra charge. To which he again pointed to the 1000 peso bill and told me that I owed him more money. Finally, after he realized that I wouldn't pay until he answered my question, he relented. He told me that he didn't tell me about the extra charge because he thought I knew about it. Laughing out of disbelief, I asked him how I could possibly know about it when I am from the United States. Oddly enough the driver could offer no explanation. By this time my dad came over and asked me what was going on. I explained everything and my dad said to just walk away and not pay. Taking his advice, I told the driver that I was not going to pay. I shut the passenger door and started walking toward the hotel entrance. The driver got out of the car and yelled something inaudible. Obviously my dad understood what he said because he told him that he had his number and was going to report him. Upon hearing this, the driver immediately got back into his car and drove off.
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
A few Sundays ago Cat and I visited this vacation town. We were invited to spend the day there with one of my students, Mati, and her family. Naturally, an asado (Paraguayan barbeque) was the meal of choice. And, true to Paraguayan form, the family was incredibly welcoming, generous, and treated us as if we were long lost friends.
It started with Mati and her husband driving 25 minutes back into Asunción to pick us up after they had spent the entire morning at their youngest daughter’s golf tournament. On the way to San Bernardino, we stopped twice on the side of the road to buy strawberries and chipa just so we would have a snack while waiting for the asado. Once we arrived at the house the grandmother talked us up and down, asking questions, telling stories, sharing her ‘love’ for the military government that she grew up with, regaling us with her crazy protesting and subversive, anti-establishment days, explaining the joys of orgasms, and predicting when Cat and I were going to have children. She even predicted the exact day we would conceive (this September 21st). In other words, she was the crazy, old, loving, still young at heart grandmother that exists in all families. As she told us story after story, her husband just smiled and shook his head slightly. It was quiet acknowledgement that he’s heard it all before and, yes, his wife is crazy but he still loves her dearly.
After eating, Mati and her husband drove us all around town showing us the historic San Bernardino hotel (where Cat and I are supposed to conceive), the club on the lakefront, the downtown area, and the small ice cream stand where we stopped for a delicious strawberry smoothie-type creation. On the way back to Asunción we stopped at a mall to pick up yet more food. Cat and I mentioned that we never tried a quintessentially Paraguayan food, whose Guarani name escapes me at the moment. It was flat and thin, made of cheese and bread, and served hot. Despite being sufficiently full and not hungry at all from a day of non-stop eating, it was delicious. Of course Cat and I ate every last bite.
A day complete with wonderful company, tasty food, intriguing stories, and great memoires—what more could Cat and I ask for?