It's been interesting to see so many American brands, and hear so much American music while living in Paraguay. It's true that you really can't escape the north American culture, no matter how far you travel. The irony of all this being that the people here know everything about our country, and we know nothing about theirs. They can pronounce all our brands and quote all our music (which is all sung in a foreign language to them), but I challenge you to name 1 Paraguayan singer, brand, actress or company. I can even broaden the spectrum to the whole of south America and still have full confidence that nobody will be able to answer the question. Globally, north Americans are know to be ignorant and un educated. We carry a natural ignorance about us, due to the fact that our culture is known worldwide and no matter where we go, we'll be able to find something familiar. English is the international language and is spoken in all countrys. But thinking realistically, it would be nearly impossible to flag down someone on a Canadian street that speaks the Spanish language. I am not ashamed to be a part of such an ignorant culture, but more so disappointed that the people of north America will never strive to adapt to a new culture, because there is no need to do so. My understanding of other nations has grown so much, for being out of Canada for only 3 months. The world is such a diverse, humbling place if you are willing to open your eyes to a new lifestyle. One lesson that I learned today? You have to let go of what you're used to, in order to move forward in a new country.
Sunday, October 21, 2012
I spent this past weekend in the nearby town of Ypane. It's a small, older town. A place where everyone is acquainted with one another and everything is within walking distance. It opened my eyes to a different side of the Paraguayan culture. Large gatherings of people all over the town, just sitting and enjoying eachothers presence. It was really refreshing for me to be in a place where the people could have a good time while being relaxed and calm. On Saturday night an intense rainstorm, which I referred to as a monsoon, destroyed the town for the night. Here in Paraguay, extreme weather generally leads to powerouts and the indoor plumbing to stop working. During this alleged monsoon, I was outdoors at a fiesta with my friend from Ypane. It was like nothing I have ever experienced before. The streets flooded and the sky turned into a light display due to the constant lightening strikes. To a certain extent, it was beautiful. A whole town without power, listening to the rainstorm and watching the lightening together. The other not so beautiful highlight of my weekend in Ypane, the scorpion next to my bed. I have never seen a scorpion and at first glance I didn't completely register that it was a real scorpion crawling on my wall. Just moments later the reality sank in and the family I was staying with in Ypane, was highly amused by my scorpion reaction. I love my home in Luque, but my weekend in Ypane was one to remember.
Saturday, October 13, 2012
As the two official languages of Canada are English and French, I knew virtually no Spanish before coming to Paraguay. In any situation, language barriers are a challenging obstacle. I realized very quickly that I had a lot to learn and that becoming a fluent Spanish speaker would be a long process. The thing about learning a second language, is it requires effort on both ends, the speaker and the listener. It took only a few days for me to see that the effort would have to come 90% from me, and 10% from the people around me. To this day I have many problems with people telling me "I can not understand you", no matter how many times I repeat myself or try to rephrase my sentence. It seemed that the only person looking to help me was my Paraguayan brother, who speaks English and Spanish. The more I converse with my brother, the more I notice that we speak our own dialect... Spanglish. We switch languages mid sentence and answer questions in English, then Spanish. Often times, I will say something and not be entirely sure which language is coming out of my mouth. It sounds bizarre, but this has helped to improve my Spanish as well as my brother's English. This is not to say that I have stopped trying to learn and perfect my Spanish, but I am proud to say that I am a fluent Spanglish speaker.