March 14, 2014

An American in Paraguay

You know, it's funny. I think most of us try to live our lives with the big picture in mind. We try to take the long view. That's how you're supposed to do it, right? Yet it is never more clear than when you are out of place that details make all the difference. As much as I try to lay in bed at night and picture the cosmos and realize that the minutia of my daily life is completely irrelevant, I still find myself battling stress, anxiety and discomfort. Yet, at the same time, the smallest of gestures can change the dynamic in a relationship. The tiniest unexpected moment of joy can turn your day around for the better. Details make a difference.

That's how I want to open my story about living in Paraguay. Because everything that I like and dislike about living here boils down to details. At times I'm sure this story will seem more like a log of "first-world" complaints to anyone who has not truly lived in another culture, but I can't believe that I'm alone in realizing the details are what color every experience. Sometimes those details are just feelings. It's hard to describe. It's really not that strange here, after all. Sure, there are key natural and cultural differences. But at the end of the day, a table is a table and a chair is a chair. Many day-to-day objects look the same. In fact, there are a number of similarities. But when you put all the small differences together and take a step back, the picture is askew. There's a very slight but palpable distinction in everything that makes you're not in Kansas anymore.

Corralling cattle for their vaccinations. Barefoot and wearing a typical Paraguayan sombrero.

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