June 18, 2011

Things I See

This past week in our treks to the hospital and back, I thought about all the things that we see regularly along the way, that we’d probably not see in the U.S. Things that I may have looked twice at a few years back, but now are just common sightings.

I couldn’t quite get my cell phone out in time to take a picture of it, but we drove alongside an interesting truck. The cargo bed was filled with raw meat--what appeared to be beef ribs, not wrapped or anything, but just piled up in the back of the truck on their way (eventually) to our tables. We often pass the little old ladies who strap wooden boxes on the sides of their donkeys, kinda like saddle bags you’d see on a big motorcycle. Sometimes the ladies also ride the donkeys, but most often they are walking alongside them selling the contents of the boxes to folks they pass on the way. What’s in there? Glad you asked. The chickens they butchered that morning, including the innards and gooey parts, which always seem to string along outside the boxes.

I couldn’t get to the phone in time to snap a shot of the tigers in cages, either, but they were being pulled behind a truck with a guy who was announcing the arriving circus. Those big cats were stalking back and forth in their cages as they passed all the people waiting at bus stops, walking along the side of the road, or waiting for the light to turn red so they can wash windshields. I wonder if anyone tried to wash THOSE windshields!

And no matter how much traffic there is on the road--even those highly congested four-lane roads that run through the middle of the business district—we’re bound to drive up on a horse cart with a driver and one or two passengers, picking up any discarded items that might be of value. Usually they find plastic, glass, and metal trash, all of which can be sold for a tiny bit of money. This one was full of small limbs and sticks, which will be used to make cooking fires. The sides of the carts are decorated with cd’s, bottle caps, or even a painted-on Nike swoosh.

You probably already know that most life in the Latino culture revolves around the Catholic church. It’s the central location of each town’s plaza, the place where you officially become “part of the human club” by getting baptized as an infant, and then check out of the club on your way to be buried. It’s the site of weddings, graduations, and community celebrations. More than the actual building, its presence is always there, in the back of the mind of practically any native South American, as the driving force behind the traditions and customs that make the culture what it is. I still found it odd to see the Ferris wheel of the latest town fair, so close to the belltower that it looks like you could jump from one to the other. I think this picture perfectly illustrates the point that what happens here happens under the mango tree or at the Catholic church.

You pass anything interesting on your commute lately?


  1. There is a never ending array of unusual things to see in Paraguay, no doubt about that. But San Francisco has its share of interesting views as well, such as the beautiful sunrises I see most mornings in my way to work, the girls dressed up in pretty clothes, ships in the ocean and junk yards that change daily. I do miss Paraguay, but I find plenty of interesting things to see here as well!

  2. Poppy fields are the most beautiful things I've seen as of late. The most unusual was a horse cart with a designer couch for the driver to sit on.


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