Thursday, 22 February 2007

Description of the robber

I would like to put the internet on alert for a Paraguayan male, slightly shorter than 5'11, brown eyes, black hair, dark skin.
If you see him, be aware he is a seasoned street robber, do not approach. Or, if you do appraoch, kindly ask him for my watch back.

I am not cut out for city life

Street vendors in Asuncion aren’t usually very pushy, so yesterday when my friend and I were having a walk around the Capitol building here and a man ran up to me and said “cellular, cellular,” I was a bit put off.
However, not being a seasoned Asunceno, I assumed he was a particularly irritating vendor and waved him away, murmuring ‘no thanks,’ then turned my eyes steadfastly away from this man, to let him know I really wasn’t going to buy anything.
He turned his attention to my companion, and, out of the corner of my eye, I saw Auchi, who was much quicker on the up take than I, hand over her purse.
He then came back to me. I, being almost mind bogglingly slow to understand things, still thought he was a street vender to whom Auchi had now, for some inscrutable reason, given her purse. “No thanks,” I said, but this time as I waved my hand he grabbed my wrist with one hand, and ripped the watch off it with the other. By the time I realized I had been robbed the bastard had already sprinted away.
I want to point out that I was well within shouting distance of the front of the Palacio Legislativo. If a Senator or someone had been leaving work just then I could have called “excuse me,” in a very polite voice and he would have heard. One would think that this incident would underline the larger story I had wanted to tell today about the tragic hilarity of the part of Asuncion that contains the Capitol, and in all honesty it will, with some intervening days between happening and writing. But for now let me leave you with this: some motherfucker stole my watch less than 50 paces from the front of the seat of this nation’s legislative branch. Welcome to Paraguay.

Wednesday, 21 February 2007

Villa Morra

Walking down Cruz del Chaco in Villa Morra (my barrio of Asuncion) is like waking down a corridor in an open-air prison. The residents of the neighborhood have seen fit to separate their property from the street by all manner of protection devices. The result for a pedestrian is to be hemmed in from all sides by walls or bars.
What do these people possess that merits such absurd protection? Or what possesses these people to believe they merit such absurd protection? One excuse is money laundering. A lot of the more prominent residents of Villa Morra have businesses that deal almost exclusively with cash, and therefore must find a place to put it all. But why do they make their homes into obscene castles? (No hyperbole here, one home has a turret at the wall, including slits in the side that could have no other purpose than to facilitate boiling oil pouring). Surely there are other ways to indulge in completely tasteless wealth (fifty on the pinky ring just to make my fists glow, for example).
The answer, I believe, is the same reason gangsta rap doesn’t have the same foothold here as it does back home. The elites are terrified. To a suburban Fifty Cent fan "Many Men" feels the same as a suburban nerd feels about Lord of the Rings; gangsta-ism is a fantasy for the most of us. But to in the back of these Paraguayan’s minds they genuinely believe that these hideous chateaus are completely necessary to keep out the unwashed hordes.

Monday, 19 February 2007


Not to run down the Iowa Agricultural College or anything, but a school website that has "tips on giving speech" on the faculty page wouldnt fill a prospective student with confidence.

Monday, 12 February 2007

Look, a blog!

If there's one thing the internet needs, it's an adolescent sharing his experiences, thoughts, theories, feelings and other things which really ought to be kept private.
'But where shall we find such an adolescent?' I hear you ask. Look no further.

To my mind this serves two purposes: staying in touch with everyone I know (y'all happen to be on the other side of the world), and keeping some sort of record for myself.

That's it for now, I will write something about Paraguay when I get back from the jungle on Wednesday.