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.