Fun Facts: Two-Month Edition

November 17, 2011

Happy two months in Paraguay to me!

In honor of this landmark (or not) anniversary, here are some fun facts I have noted in the country so far.

+ Paraguay has the ninth most airports in the world with 798, though only 12 of those are paved and only two can receive four-engine commercial aircraft.

+ There are no freeways, highways, or expressways anywhere in the country. So next week when we missionaries drive to the Chaco region in northern Paraguay (a five-hour trip one-way), we will essentially be taking side streets and hitting stop lights all the way there. So many fun times to be had.

+ There are no right-of-way laws here at four-way intersections. Technically paved roads take precedence over cobblestone streets when that occurs, but you learn just to drive defensively at all times.

+ You cannot make left turns at most major stoplight intersections. This makes getting home from anywhere a pain in the bum bum (as the little Schell’s say amidst giggles).

+ Horse-drawn carts are still allowed on the roads alongside cars. They are generally driven by vegetable vendors who advertise their wares via megaphone.

+ Paraguayans do not like chopping down trees, so often you will see trees right in the middle of the road with asphalt paved around it.

+ Buses can be hailed anywhere, at any point as there is almost no such thing as a bus stop. Alighting is the same thing–just be on guard as bus drivers usually only slow down enough for you to jump off.

+ Conversely, taxis can only be sought at certain taxi stands.

+ You have to get all your produce and fresh bread weighed at the scale station before checking out at grocery stores.

+ You do not take your shopping cart through the checkout line. You unload your goods onto the moving belt and simply leave your cart blocking the way of the world until an employee takes it away. Boys, whose only compensation are tips, then bag your groceries and transport your goods in a separate cart to your car in the underground parking lot.

+ See this entry for Watermelon Rules.

+ When you go to someone’s house, you do not knock on the door or gate. Instead you clap to have them come let you in.

+ Women go to the salon to get their hair and make-up done just to go to the gym. This obviously also implies that shorts and t-shirts are absolutely not acceptable work-out clothes.

+ Paraguay is the continent’s largest producer of marijuana.

+ McDonald’s offers Oreo cones (I have never seen these in my life!) complete with vanilla and dulce de leche swirl ice cream.

+ They make ice by freezing filled plastic bags shaped like condoms. The day I discovered this explained so much about the scary amount of used birth control I saw littered in the streets…

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