Thoughts after the Paraguay trip

By Gerre Joiner | Published Saturday, October 11, 2014

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I recently returned from a mission trip to Paraguay. It was rewarding and effective in every measurable way. Find below some thoughts regarding the trip:

  • We Americans are blessed to live in a land of plenty. The “poorest” among us would be viewed as rich compared to most folks in third world countries.
  • The Paraguayans are big on fences. Every house, big or small, has a security fence.
  • My West Texas farm Spanish works just fine in Paraguay. A little iPhone English-to-Spanish app got me over several conversational humps.
  • Even the most affluent people with whom we worked and stayed had a pretty much used-up vehicle. If I lived in Paraguay, I, too, would resist the urge to spend hard earned money on a vehicle because of the following factors:
  • Most of the streets in residential areas are “cobbled.” The term “cobbled” is used to describe a place that is made of irregularly-shaped fist-sized rocks that are thrown down in the area they plan on calling a “street.”
  • I Googled “driving in Paraguay” and noted the following statements to be true:
  • Defensive driving is not the norm. Offensive driving is the norm.
  • Traffic signs and road signs are just “suggestions.”
  • Speed is controlled by the condition of the cobbled streets.
  • There’s always room to park.
  • Turn signals are a seldom-used option.
  • A person can turn any direction from any lane.
  • Driving on the sidewalk is a viable option.
  • Motorcycles are ridden by the luckiest, most fearless people on the planet.

One eats often in Paraguay. They are accustomed to eating a light meal when they awake each morning, followed by a mid-morning meal, followed by a noon snack, followed by a mid-afternoon sit-down meal, followed by a 9 o’clock evening meal.

Lots of chicken and beef is eaten in Paraguay. Not many spices are added to the meal. Salt and pepper are available if you ask.

I have discovered that I can survive being buried alive and still talk about it.

I survived a simulated “buried alive” sensation on the close-quarters airplane flight to Paraguay. It included an eight-and-a-half hour flight to Miami, then a three-and-a-half hour flight to Asunci n.

I was seated between my friend, Pastor Ken May, and a stranger. There was never a moment when my knees weren’t touching the seat in front of me. There was never a moment when my left leg wasn’t resting on Ken’s leg while I tried to keep my right leg from touching the stranger.

This is not an environment in which one can rest. I announced that I would walk home if I weren’t assigned an aisle seat for the return trip.

I wasn’t kidding. I had a much more spacious seat on the way home.

We’re home. Safe and sound. The guys at the coffee shop said they didn’t know I was gone!

Gerre Joiner is a semi-retired church musician and has lived in Decatur since 1999.

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