Backseat Conversations.

July 24, 2013

Lauren: Big [Lo], did you know that my sister’s name is Poophead and mine is Toilet?

Kate: Hey! That means I get to sit on you. And POOP ON YOUR FACE.

*uncontrollable giggles for the rest of the ride home*


What delightful little ladies.


IMAG0011Lo’s laundry on the line. Or a Target promo.

I appreciate my washing machine. I really do. I love not having to lug my foul-smelling wardrobe to a lavanderia every week. I love not having to deal with laundry leering.  And I love that if I am missing key undergarments, it is because they are still in my laundry basket and not because somebody stole them (ew). I realize its luxury and I appreciate it.

But my washing machine is not the most industrious. Sometimes after a whole wash cycle, my clothes will look no cleaner for the wear, and worse, after hanging on the line, they are smellier than when they went in. Considering how incredibly much I sweat here, the after stench is really quite a feat.

As I cruise into the homestretch, my clothes are especially reflective of how far along I am in my two-year commitment in Paraguay. With the excessive bodily perspiration, bug spray showers, and lack of rigorous washing (um, who has the discipline to scrub each article of clothing by hand every week? Not me…), it is clear I am nearly home as I am looking rough these days. Stains, holes, stretched out threadbare fabric—I feel like a walking thrift store…and not the cool vintage hipster kind.

I anticipated this. I purposely brought an endless stash of cheap Target essentials and an assortment of other older items that I intend to wear out (and boy, have I) and leave here. But somewhere along the line, I got attached to one certain grey v-neck. It was soft, comfortable, matched with everything…and apparently was part security blanket? Ahem, anyway. Even if it made me look scrummy, I wore it every chance I had.

That is until it marched into battle against one of my many cooking frenzies. It emerged unvictorious with a large oil stain prominently where girls should especially not have oil stains. Although I tried every home remedy–dish soap, baking soda, Windex, vinegar–no solution was successful in removing the unsightly splotch. So with a heavy heart, I dumped it into a bag for future donations, where it sat for many weeks.

Then someone alerted me to coconut something or other; the common Paraguayan remedy for laundry woes and tarnished duds. I hunted down the unmarked brown bar of soap at my local grocery store and excavated the grey tee from what I hoped was premature extinction.

I tore off the plastic wrapping, removed the caramel-colored bar, and because it was soap and I was curious of its scent, took a huge whiff.

And just about PASSED OUT. By the beard of Zeus, that thing was rank! When I managed to stop gagging, I set to work scrubbing and trying to breathe into my armpit (I know, what an alternative). Though now dubious of its cleaning prowess (how could something so putrid actually sanitize my clothes?), I nonetheless attacked long-standing stains on my jeans as well. I tossed the vestments into the washing machine and attempted to remove the stink from my hands.

When Washy McWasherton completed the cycle, I pulled out the clothing and lo and be told indeed, miracles from the heavens! Aghast avast ahoy. NO STAINS.

Well played, turd soap, well played.

Lora bday 018Dude. This towel is “clean,” fresh out of the washer. But pre-miracle soap.

You’ve Got Mail.

April 7, 2013

[Must remember these moments when I am back in the States.]

I trudged up the ramp, crossing my fingers that the box from my mom was awaiting me in the post office. Paraguay does not have a national postal system, so all post offices are individual, private businesses. Therefore both incoming and outgoing mail deliveries are unpredictable and certainly not prompt. I know these discrepancies well by now, but the excitement of packages often has me optimistically hoping against instinct anyway.

As I approached the tiny office, I could see through the tinted glass that a large ladder was blocking the door. My heart immediately sank thinking they had closed spontaneously for maintenance as businesses are apt do, regardless of working hours, in Paraguay. I did not give up all hope though as I observed an employee at the counter. Unsure if the office was open, I hesitated at the door and made inquiring gestures at the lady. She shrugged her shoulders unapologetically and halfheartedly waved me in.

I slowly pushed in the door until it was flush against the ladder. There was an exceedingly small gap, and I dubiously considered entering. But the tantalizing promise of brand-new (and much needed) v-neck t-shirts and jars of Cookie Butter (also much needed?) were enough to spur me forward. I inhaled sharply, sucked in my stomach, and proceeded to clumsily cram myself into a space more adequately suited for newborn babies. Singular.

The counter jammed into my hip and my bulky shoulder bag did not help the situation. Still, those were small inconveniences compared to the moment when I noticed the wet, brown splotches on the counter. Perplexed and disconcerted, I dared myself to glance up. Immediately over my head, perched on the ladder, was a maintenance man fiddling with a half assembled air conditioning unit that was dripping the muddy goo I was now also trying to evade in my already tight niche.

Side note: in Paraguay, for every guy on a ladder, there is sure to be another ‘earning’ a day’s wage by holding the base of the ladder secure. Except most of the time, that individual is more about nap time than vigilance.

As was the case with this particular dude as well. His arm dangled casually over a middle rung as if were the resulting dead weight that occurs when one is fast asleep. Were an accident to happen, the personage on top would surely have died, and this one on the bottom left undoubtedly sans appendage and then some.

Add his creepy, close-range leering to the cubbyhole mix. He sure had some serious x-ray vision for someone who was half asleep.

I nervously and rather impatiently waited for the mail lady to check on the arrival of a package (yay! it came) and then to of course take her sweet time gathering the paperwork necessary to release the box to me. An eternity passed before I could hastily scrawl out a signature and make off with my treasure to a safe haven free of raining poop and predators.

It took a few attempts to wrangle my way out of that otherworldly vortex newly armed with a large box. I felt like those birds that mistakenly fly into houses and then proceed to slam into the glass windows repeatedly before they discover a more effective strategy to escaping. Eventually, I was liberated.

Then they moved the ladder.


Animal Planet.

March 16, 2013

It was a dark and stormy night…just kidding.

Actually, a patch of exceptional weather hit Asuncion on Wednesday, and being one to obviously delight in reasonable temperatures, I threw open every window in the house to let all the goodness pervade my humble abode. Then I sat down at my desk to attack a pile of work and many cups of coffee. A normal day with the added bonus of a cool breeze.

Suddenly, a flutter of wings behind me caught my attention and as I turned around to identify the source of the sound, I saw, to my chagrin, that the Justin Sudekis of common sparrows had lumbered its way into my bedroom via my extra large window. It was immediately evident that this feathered fellow was no Weight Watchers’ spokesbird and he certainly wasn’t surviving on Lean Cuisines.

But before I could even rise from my chair to return him to the real world, I watched in further horror as he swooped to snatch up something brown and wiggly and make like a bandit back out the window. Turns out it was live action National Geographic, and the lizard I slammed my window on the previous night when I caught it trying to sneak in was about to have a really crappy day. Or maybe it was his brother? Either way, I have reason to suspect it didn’t end well.

But happily ever after to me!

Until I walked outside and discovered that my front yard is apparently the communal toilet for all the stray dogs of Paraguay. My day ended up being pretty “crappy” too.

Poop: the great equalizer.