Sunday, May 24, 2009

Leftovers and Saying Goodbye

The fam

Maria Eva and Maya

Me and Grace

Lynne and Rodney, my adopted artist parents

Natalie, Laura and Me

So I'm back in the US for just a short time, saying goodbye to everyone before I take that metaphorical bungee leap into oblivion. Coming home was a LONG process with flight delays and layovers which all added up to mean 24 hours on planes or in airports. It was a harsh reminder of the cultural difference when I tried to get something to eat and it was all breads in the airport (Donde estas, mi gallo pinto?) (Where are you, my rice and beans?). It's ok though, I'm slowly reacclimating, although I do feel decadent and wasteful each time I throw toilet paper in the toilet, which is crazy, because it's wasted no matter what, but still.

I did think of a couple things about Central America that I forgot to mention before. One is that they have these places called Auto Hotels, where they can pull their car into this hotel and there are curtains between all the parking spaces so no one can see your car there. They pay through a double-sided cubby in the wall so they have complete privacy for cheating on their spouses, so that's nice.
Another story was that the last time in San Jose, we went to this open market that's every Sunday, which was in a gigantic blacktop area and had little booths with eveything from shampoo and soap and clothes to used electronic equipment and car parts. One booth where a man was sitting on the ground had junky wires in a pile and 2 prosthetic legs displays nicely right on top. I should explain that these legs both had on a matching sock and shoe, but were 2 distinctly different sizes, with one taller and thinner than the other. That is amusing enough in itself, and Christian started to take a picture of it when we realized that the man on the ground HAD NO LEGS. Some logical questions arise from this situation - why are they 2 different sizes? Are they his? Doesn't he need them? But alas, like many of the world's greatest mysteries, I'm afraid we'll never know. We must be satisfied with the quick picture Christian took when we walked by the second time, after we had to walk away and just breathe for a minute (I'll post it ASAP).

Also, one of the very first people we met, way back in Montezuma had really interesting stories. This was Aaron, the older guy, married with 3 kids that traveled all over the world. He first met his wife in a kabutz in Israel, and they knew each other for a few months before she left and went to Thailand. A few months later, he decided he couldn't live without her and he'd have to find her, so he went to Thailand with nothing but her name and actually FOUND HER. Do you know how many people there are in Thailand? A LOT. So then they got married a few months later and when she was eight months pregnant decided to explore Mexico in a van. Shortly after their first kid was born, they came across this town where a family circus was visiting. They stayed after and met the family and then traveled with them for a while. Each family member had an act, and there was a little girl about ten who had been trained since she was a toddler to be lifted up by her hair. Her act was to be pulled up to the top of the tent where she would do acrobatic flips and stunts, all only attached by her hair. He said the skin on her head was really thick and tough.
We heard some other stories from those surfers about a trip they took to Taiwan where they visited a fine facility with what is called a Ping-Pong Show, where talented women do amazing things with their crotches. I won't go into ALL the details but some of their props included: A live goldfish in a bowl, ping-pong balls, a coke bottle, dollar bills, cigarettes, and magic scarves. Just think about all that for a second...yeah.

So after sleeping about 18 hours when I first got back to Ohio, I worked for my mom painting their house, which was fine until the rain washed it off TWICE just as I finished painting it. After that I was over the whole painting thing. It was nice to hang out with the family and say goodbye to everyone. So I spent 12 days there and then to Atlanta (after a brief night in DC and 36 hours on a Greyhound), where I spent a busy week of really intense hanging out with people and doing all the things I'm not allowed to do in the Peace Corps. Anyone reading this that I didn´t see, Sorry I couldn´t see you before I left and I still want to heart from you so please feel free to write.

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Chuchi - this is probably my new most popular word. It means snobby or fancy, but is used in the Peace Corps as anything nicer than dirt roads and shacks, or for a person, anyone who showers with hot water. Living in the city, I am super chuchi for here.

Fuerte - literally means strong, but because the culture is based on talking around everything, it´s when a person says anything they want in a direct way - it means asshole

Puede ser and otro dia - literally means "could be" or "another day", but because noone will directly blow someone off, both of them mean "never" and are the answer to a question of when something will happen

Deseas, en tus sueños, Que Arriba Perra/o and Es lo qué es - these are the terrible translations of American sayings that are not used here and don´t really translate, but we say them anyway. Literally they mean "you wish", "in your dreams", "What´s up bitch/dog?" and "it is what it is"

Qué guapa - this means "what a hard worker" and is used by Paraguayans every time I do ANYTHING manual, including carrying a dish to the sink or sweeping out my room. I don´t think they have high expectations for Americans and work.

Saludos - sending saludos by way of a mutual friend is how people tell each other they have a crush on them. The most serious kinds are given with a pinch on the arm and they mean business.

Thumbs up - this is done everywhere here and is a simple answer to pretty much any question. I will probably have carpal tunel in my thumbs when I leave here because I do this so much.

No se como comer esta - this is how one refuses food in Paraguay. Literally, it´s "I don´t know how to eat this" which creates an internal struggle for me each time it´s said because I want to be a smartass and explain that, just like any other food, you put in in your mouth and chew, but I don´t think that´s acceptable here.

No Más and Un poco - this is said after almost every phrase for no real reason other than to make everything sound like it´s not a big deal, even when it really is. Literally, it´s "No More" and "A Little", so the translations are something like "Sit down no more", "Come here a little", and "Do you want dinner no more?"

Cocido - this is a hot drink mixed by carmellizing sugar with a little yerba, adding just enough water to wet it, and then adding more sugar. It´s served by the thermos-full just before bed.

Mosto - this is to sugar what crack is to cocaine. It´s a "tradional" drink capable of putting even the sweetest tooth into a diabetic coma, and is served continuously at fun gatherings like funerals.

Ch-ch-ch-ch - this is the sound Paraguayans make to get each others´attention - like "Psst" . It´s especially used for catcalling, and they have nothing to follow it with - they just want you to look.