August 22nd, 2009
My host sister, who had been living in Washington D.C. as part of a live-in Nanny and English study program, was rather enthusiastically welcomed back home the moment she stepped off the bus. The family wasn’t expecting her for a few more days so they were surprised to see her. She came early in an attempt to avoid them picking her up at the airport and a big, extravagant welcome (which she didn’t avoid anyway). A few people found out she was back and within a matter of minutes, family and friends starting pouring into the house, where they all sat in a circle yelling over each other.
It was pretty hectic so I couldn’t make out much of the conversations. Before too much longer, my host mom decided an asado (barbeque) was in order, and a rather benevolent lady offered to have it at her house, which is just a few houses down from mine.
Within minutes, I found myself in an environment that had me questioning whether or not I was really in the Peace Corps. The benevolent woman who offered to have the asado at her house is the owner of Kurupí and Te Guarani, probably the two biggest national brands in Paraguay. Kurupí is my favorite brand of yerba for t-ray and mate, the traditional drinks in Paraguay, and Te Guarani is a family of tea brands. Needless to say, I was amazed to find myself in a mansion (by Paraguayan standards at least). They have a glass building in the middle of their patio, which is complete with luxurious couches, a big flat screen TV, a nice dining table, a bar, a massive grill, bathroom, and kitchen. It’s like a mini house apart from the larger house. They have a full time staff consisting of a cocinero (grill man), maid/chef, and security guard.
Within an hour of so of arrival, I was chowing down on the best asado I had eaten up to this point as well as salads and sausages. Oh and did I forget to mention, they had an open bar where you could have your choice of beer, liquor, or wine. I took a stroll around the place and found a really nice truck, a 7 series BMW, a four-wheeler, 2 jet-skis, and a belowground pool.
I felt really good and REALLY GUILTY at the same time. Here I am a Peace Corps Volunteer, and while some of my colleagues are out in the campo squatting in outhouses and bringing in water from their well, I’m chatting it up with Paraguayan Millionaires, eating great food that was prepared and served to me by a professional staff, and generally just living lavishly.
After everyone had finished eating, we sat around drinking, joking, and having a good time. I received a text from a fellow Volunteer, Claire, asking what I was up to. I replied that I was chillin’ at a Millionaire’s house to which she replied that she was doing the same thing, also at a Millionaire’s house, to which I replied, “We are awful Peace Corps Volunteers.”
After a string of texts and a few more calls, she and her Paraguayan friends picked me up in front of the house, and I went back to another very nice house, where we proceeded to sing songs in Spanish Karaoke style. After a few hours of this I was tired and ready to call it a night, but Claire dragged me to the club despite my efforts to convince her otherwise. I danced a bit but then escaped unnoticed and headed home to pass out.
Living the life... Paraguayan style!
7 years ago