Thursday, February 26, 2009

Scary Clowns

In Paraguay we like to have big parties. Beginning with a baby's 1st birthday, many will go all-out to celebrate a special event.

I've noticed that most kid's birthday parties have some kind of live entertainment. Many times that entertainment is a clown.

I'm not a big fan of clowns myself, but I'm certainly not a big clown fan in Paraguay. They are a little scary.


I've seen kids terrorized and probably scarred for life by the clowns


What do you think?

Over Loaded

Paraguayans really know how to economize on space. Not only can they pack large amounts of clothes into small suitcases for traveling, but they have a knack at loading up vehicles. I thought the truck below was pretty loaded until...

I saw this one. I was driving behind this truck and kept wondering what would happen if the rope came loose.


There is a saying about 'when in Rome'...so I've tried my hand at packing. This is the back of my pickup truck with 'precious cargo' packed in it.
For all of you safety conscious people out there ... I only drove a couple of blocks...very slowly... in a quiet neighborhood. No teens were hurt during the ride.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Paraguayan Dance

Paraguay has a fascinating culture and one of my favorite aspects of Paraguayan culture are the traditional dances performed at special events.
The dresses are always beautiful and the dancers swish them around with graceful movements sometimes balancing pots or bottles on their heads.
A dance which is indiginous to Paraguay is the 'Bottle Dance'
The dancers start out with one bottle balanced on their head as they dance. Then they begin adding more bottles one at a time. Depending on the experience of the dancer there may be more than ten bottles at a time.
You can see examples of the traditional Paraguayan dances at these links.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Asado (BBQ) the Paraguay Way

There are more head of cattle in Paraguay than there are people. What that translates into is: Paraguayans eat lots of beef! An 'asado' is a cookout or BBQ, and it is a favorite meal for most Paraguayans. Asados are usually reserved for special occasions like holidays and birthdays. However if one is able they will have an asado more often, like every weekend.

Depending on who you talk to you will get various pointers on how to prepare and cook the best asado. Typical method for preparing for an asado:

1. Purchase meat, calculate 1 pound of meat per person

2. Ignite the charcoal

3. Salt the meat heavily

4. Throw meat on the grill


5. Eat up!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

3 R's in Luque

I visited a small private school in Luque with my friend the other day. It is a school where some girls I know attend. The school headmaster welcomed us warmly and allowed us to take pictures.


It was interesting to see that despite the lack of resources, the teachers were able to be creative and improvise for the lessons.


In this school, several grade levels share a room. It reminded me of the one-room school houses that existed long ago.


It really made me appreciate and be grateful for the school where I teach.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Cows

When you've lived somewhere for a few years things that were strange and out of the ordinary eventually become normal and part of everyday life. We had a group visit Paraguay awhile ago, and one of the ladies was a shutter bug. She took pictures of everything! I'm glad she did because she gave me copies and now I have lots of great photos.

During the visit we drove by the local park in my neighborhood. My friend squeeled at me to pull over. She was hysterical and I was wondering what in the world was going on!


Turns out she saw some cows wandering around and wanted me to stop so she could get a picture. It was a novelty for her to see cows hanging out in the playground.
Yea, we have cows in the playgrounds here, cool, huh?
Its always fun to see Paraguay through fresh eyes now and then and remember all of its unique features. Thanks Laura for the pics!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Made in Luque

One of the greatest natural resources Luque has is its children.


They make the most beautiful babies you have ever seen!


Statistics show that around 50% of the population of Paraguay is under the age of 18. Compare that to the USA's 27%.

Thats a lot of babies!
Aren't they adorable?

Monday, February 16, 2009

Lapachos

The blooming yellow Lapacho tree is one of the beautiful sights you will see in the spring. The color is so intense and powerful against the backdrop of the blue sky that it always amazes me.


The Lapacho comes in other colors as well. The pink lapacho is just as striking and can be seen blooming all over Asuncion.


There is aslo the white Lapacho which is not that common.


Luque's town colors are 'azul y oro' (blue and gold), so the yellow Lapacho can be seen more frequently in Luque.


The Lapacho is also a favored subject for typical Paraguayan paintings.

I could go on and on, but I'll save it for another post.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Luque's Outskirts

There are an estimated 250,000 people living in Luque with a land mass of 220 square kilometers. There are many that live in the outer lying areas of Luque in houses like the one pictured below.


Some of the outer limits of Luque give the impression of being far away from civilization.



The people are extremely friendly for the most part and welcome visitors readily. They will just have you pull up a chair under the shade tree and share their terere with you.


The roads are either cobblestone or dirt, and one has to walk long distances to catch the nearest bus.


Life in the outskirts is VERY 'tranquilo'.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Paraguayan Flower

The national flower of Paraguay is the "Mburucuj√°" flower, or the Passion Fruit flower.


Paraguayans like to use the fruit to make juice, ice cream, and desserts.


The Brazilians have a drink made from the fruit that is used to treat asthma, whooping cough, bronchitis and other tough coughs.



Other used of the Mburucuj√° fruit are:
  • Natural sedative

  • Diruetic

  • For uninary infections

  • A heart tonic

My personal favorite?



Ice cream!


Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Random Act of Kindness



I was riding the bus to work this morning and witnessed a random act of kindness. You don't see these very often and not from young men anymore. An elderly couple was getting on the bus with the wife in front. The husband stopped to pay the fare and the wife wobbled down the isle to find an empty seat. The bus driver meanwhile starts up at full force (this being the norm) while he is still counting money. This caused the elderly woman to loose her balance and begin to fall. A young man was sitting in the front and he reached out just in time to help steady the woman and keep her from falling. I leaned over to my daughter and said, "I like that boy, he is sweet. You don't see that every day" and she said, "I was thinking the same thing". It warmed my heart to see someone looking out for another stranger. I've been on many bus rides where people have fallen or nearly fallen and very few times have I seen the other passengers help out. That random act of kindness made my day!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Chipa

One of the first foods I tried when I arrived in Paraguay years ago was the Chipa. My first impression was that it tasted like cheese crackers. Chipa is mostly made from mandioca starch, cheese, eggs, pork lard, and milk.



It is baked in a special brick oven called a "tatakua" in Guarani. Most chipa is shaped like a donut or bagel, but some is oval shaped and solid. You will see chipa venders take the streets usually in the afternoons. They carry the chipa baskets on their heads as they walk along yelling out "chiiipaaa".




Delicioso!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Sights in Luque

Luque is a small town just outside of Asuncion. In the center of town there is a "plaza". This is where all the youth hang out in the afternoons or where special events are often held.


The day these pictures were taken there were military guarding I'm not sure what they were guarding, but they were nice enough to let us take their picture. We couldn't get them to smile though.


In the afternoon you will usually see a "chipa" vendor walking the streets selling this delicious cheese bread. Pretty cool how they can balance the whole basket on their head.


One block up from the plaza is the town church. This is the 'Virgen del Rosario' church which is the largest catholic church in the town. There are smaller chapels in surrounding neigborhoods.


When its very hot (which is of the time) Paraguayans will sit outside on the sidewalks to chat with neighbors and try to cool off. Terere is usually shared during these times. (I'll post later about that.)


Paraguay has one of the better volunteer fire departments. This is the fire department nearest my house.


Luquenos are very proud of their soccer team whose mascot is a pig. Fans can get pretty crazy when there is a big game.


The most prestegious landmark in paraguay is the 'Confederacion Sudamericana de Futbol'. It is located near the entrance to Luque.


There are just a few of the sights you can see in Luque. Did I say it was a great place to live?