Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Let’s Get together and feel alright at Reggae Fest!

September 26th, 2009

The Wailers, Bob Marley’s band, came to Paraguay and put on a great show!

When I got a text saying there was going to be a Reggae Fest in Asunción and was asked if I wanted to come, I was like, “Yeah, why not? That sounds awesome!”

Add that to my list of great decisions. I’m sure this outdoor concert will go down as one of the coolest experiences I have as a Peace Corps Volunteer.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. First came the bus 3-hour bus ride on Friday afternoon to Asunción, which was really fun because....well I could be doing worse things than traveling through the Paraguayan countryside with two cool friends, while listening to my IPod. I just remember being so content in that moment. I remember thinking, “I have no worries, I’m a Peace Corps Volunteer, and I’m in the middle of Paraguay on a bus listening to Motion City Soundtrack headed for a weekend of fun and a Reggae concert.”

When we arrived in Asunción, we went to at this place called Quattro D. We treated ourselves to amazing chicken lasagna and some ice cream, and then Claire headed for the Peace Corps office, and Yaz tagged along with me to the mall. I wanted to buy bedding and possibly curtains, but ended up not buying them because they were really expensive and I couldn’t figure out how to pay in cash because the ATM has a small limit and was going to charge me 25,000 Gs for every transaction. If I paid in cash I was going to receive a 10% discount for being foreign. I was also trying to figure out how to meet the requirements in order to sign up for the store card, which would give me an additional 20% off. It added up to an $88 savings, which is a crap load for me at this point.

Regardless, we had a lot of fun just browsing around the mall gazing at the things we couldn’t afford.

That night I went out for dinner and drinks with several Volunteers who were in town for the concert. We went to the Brit Pub. For the first part of the night I was having a good time, but then I become tired, and that was all she wrote.

The night of the concert started outside the Alps Attic, a popular hotel for Peace Corps Volunteers in Asunción.

A fun and interesting American girl who decided to move here to write a guidebook to Paraguay picked us all up in her van. We packed in tight and headed out for the concert. Picture a minivan with about 13 people packed in. People are on each other’s laps and Will and I are crammed in the hatch. But we didn’t care. Igual no más.

I couldn’t help but think of foreshadowing as the song by The Black Eyed Peas that goes, “I’ve got a feelin’ that tonight’s gonna be a good night, that tonight’s gonna be a good night that tonight’s gonna be a good good night. I got a feelin’,” played over the radio in a van full of really cool, interesting Peace Corps Volunteers headed to a Reggae concert in Paraguay!

Many of the people in the car hate that song for it’s idiotic lyrics, but I secretly liked it, and thought it was a great kickoff for the night and foreshadowing of what was to come.

Shortly after arriving, we all scarfed down some hamburgers at a little stand outside the concert, and then jumped into the sea of people heading towards the entrance.

“Leche, Leche, Leche,” which means “milk, milk, milk,” screamed the hustlers selling beer outside the concert. Gypsies were sitting on the ground selling their hand crafted necklaces, wallets, bracelets, and other accessories. Nappy braids, Bob Marley tee shirts, psychedelic colors, and hippie chicks were everywhere. We don’t see a lot of diversity here, so it was a familiar and welcomed site.

Immediately upon entering the concert, I knew this was going to be a chill night. We stood in a circle towards the back of the crowd and talked, danced, and drank. Then we moved in closer.

As the night progressed sometimes we danced and other times we just sat in a big circle and had really interesting conversation. There was an atmosphere of friendliness and brotherhood in the air already, and the Wailers hadn’t even taken the stage yet.

People were freely sharing and interacting across their respective clicks.

Once the Wailers hit the stage, the night turned from chill to magical.

There is no way I can capture the feeling of goofily dancing around with friends to the sound of,

Singin': "don't worry 'bout a thing,
'Cause every little thing gonna be all right."
Singin': "don't worry (don't worry) 'bout a thing,
'Cause every little thing gonna be all right!"

Or to

We're jammin':
I wanna jam it wid you.
We're jammin', jammin',
And I hope you like jammin', too.

Cell phones were hoisted and waving in the air (reminiscent of Woodstock) and a Jamaican and Paraguayan flag swaying, crossing in the wind, forming a symbol of international peace as the Wailers sang:

Emancipate yourself from the mental slavery;
None but ourselves can free our minds.
Have no fear for atomic energy,
cuz none of them can stop the time.
How long shall they kill our profits?
While we stand aside and look? Ooh!
Some say it’s just a part of it:
We’ve got to fulfill de Book.

Won’t you help to sing?
These songs of freedom? -
Cause all I ever have:
Redemption songs,
Redemption songs,
Redemption songs.


I thought the following were especially relevant lyrics for Paraguay:

Get up, stand up, stand up for your rights
Get up, stand up, stand up for your rights
Get up, stand up, stand up for your rights
Get up, stand up, don't give up the fight “

And of course, the highlight of the night:

“One love, one heart,
Let’s get together and feel alright.
Hear the children cryin’, (one love)
Hear the children cryin’ (one heart)
Sayin,’ “give thanks and praise to the Lord and I will feel alright,”
Sayin,’ “let’s get together and feel alright.”

And that’s exactly what we did. We all got together and we felt all right.

Highlights from the following day include an amazing breakfast at the hotel and relaxing by the pool. Again...Livin' the Dream!

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