Friday, August 28, 2009

Zoo and Cancha

July 27th, 2009

Yesterday almost my entire family went to the Zoo in Asunción. My brother, Hector, drove everyone in his truck. He used a tarp to make a tent-like structure in the back of the truck, which everyone sat under. I had to sit in the front with my brother and his wife since it is prohibited for me to ride on main roads in the backs of trucks.

On the way to the zoo, we passed some interesting sites. One of those sites was the former house of Alfredo Stroessner, who was dictator in Paraguay from 1954 until 1989.

The other site was the location where 400 people were burned alive inside a supermarket because the owners ordered the doors locked so that the customers would not leave without paying. There was a massive public outcry, but in the end no one was held responsible for any substantial amount of time. I’ll talk about it later, but that’s a good example of how justice is hard to come by in Paraguay.

When we arrived at the zoo, everyone crowded around a pile of meat and bread and made cold meat sandwiches for brunch. I think this was to avoid paying the high zoo prices, and fill the kids up so they wouldn’t beg for snacks in the zoo.

We walked around the zoo for a while looking at different animals. Though I like going to the zoo, and think it is very educational, there is a part of me that finds it sad that animals are caged up for our amusement. They lead miserable lives. Tigers weren’t made to be caged up...they were made to roam free, to hunt, to conquer and to mate. I imagine those animals sense something is wrong about their environment Imagine having instincts and not being able to act on them! How frustrating and depressing it must be to lead the life of a zoo animal.

Some of the animals we saw were tigers, various tropical birds such as toucans and parakeets, a hippopotamus, a puma, monkeys, a baby anaconda, an elephant, ostrich, guinea pigs, turkeys, turtles, and bunnies.

The chimpanzees intrigued me the most. I spent a bit of time just observing. I was standing on one side of the cage, facing one of the chimps that was sitting on top of a tire. When I walked over to the other side of the cage, he jumped down, rolled his tire over to the other side of the cage, positioned it perfectly, then climbed on top and continued his observation of me. Sometimes you wonder if maybe they think we’re the strange attraction, instead of the other way around. I talked with my niece about how intelligent and human-like chimps are. They experience emotion, wage wars, make tools, methodically teach their young how to use tools to access food, communicate, have opposable thumbs, and sometimes walk upright. It’s not a big stretch to see how Homo Sapiens evolved from a common descendent as the chimpanzee.

After the zoo, we went to the cancha to watch Paso de Oro play. The previous week the goalkeeper was ejected from the game, and thus suspended for two games. Paulo, my nephew, stepped in to fill the position, so we arrived especially early so that he could dress and then prepare with the team. Poor Paulo...the opposing team scored goal after goal against him. He hadn’t practice in a while and was noticeably nervous. The cancha is always fun regardless, and if the adult team wins, we celebrate in the back of the truck on the way home, and at my house once we get there. When the weather is good, my Mom racks up because people buy a lot of alcohol, other drinks, hamburgers, and empanadas.

Check out these pictures from the Cancha and make sure to watch the video at the bottom.

This is how to celebrate a win at the cancha:


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