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Cultural Fun Facts About Paraguay
October 19, 2011, 7:18 pm
Filed under: Paraguay

Here’s some fun facts about Paraguay that are part of my everyday life. Enjoy!

– People don’t have doorbells here, so instead when someone wants to visit you, they clap outside your house to announce themselves. While this sounds weird (how can you even hear people clapping?), since it is so hot in Paraguay, pretty much everyone’s windows are open all of the time- so all can hear. Moreover, when someone comes to enter my house, they always stop outside my door and say ‘Permiso’ (May I come in?) first, where upon I say ‘Adelante!’ (Come In), which invites them to enter.

– When passing someone on the street, instead of saying ‘Hello,’ you actually say ‘Goodbye’ (Adios!) This is a form of greeting that lets people know you can’t stop to drink tereré with them since you have things to do, or as a general greeting to strangers as you’re walking down the street. I say ‘Adios’ to everyone I see when walking, whether it’s someone I know or don’t. I actually really like this cultural trait- you can just say a friendly ‘Adios’ and keep rolling! Can’t imagine this flying in NYC, however…

– It is rude to say ‘No’ in Paraguay. If someone offers you something, whether it be food or tereré, if you don’t want any you say ‘Gracias’ (thank you) instead. If someone wants to sell you something, instead of saying No you can say ‘Otra día’ (another day). If someone invites you to something you can’t attend, instead of a ‘No Thanks’ you say ‘Más tarde’ (later). It has been a big struggle for me to unlearn how to say a polite ‘No Thank You.’ Even today when offered mandioca (a staple Paraguayan food, sort of like a baked potato without the skin) with my lunch I had to stop and think about a way to say No without really saying No.

– The art of ‘En Seguida’ (in a minute): When someone tells you ‘en seguida,’ it could mean in a minute, in an hour, in six hours, or never. In fact, it can also be used as another indirect way of saying No. Initially I found this frustrating, as there’s no way to really tell a time-frame when someone tells you ‘en seguida,’ but as time goes on in Paraguay I’m finding this phrase more and more useful for my own purposes- without having to be tied down a certain hour, I can pop on over to someone’s house whenever I feel like it without them getting offended. If I’m late or stuck in a meeting or project, ‘en seguida’ is always a lifesaver. My only concern now is that I’m integrating this into my life SO much that I will probably offend people in the US when I return, since punctuality (whether in work, family, or friendship) is extremely important in our culture.

– There are a lot of phrases to learn in Paraguayan Castellano (Spanish) that are very different from English sentences. For example, instead of asking ‘Do you like mandioca?’ or ‘Do you like tereré?’ The phrase in Paraguay is ‘¿Sabes comer mandioca?’ (Do you know how to eat mandioca’) or ‘¿Sabes tomar tereré? (Do you know how to drink tereré?) Since I already spoke some level of Spanish when getting to Paraguay, my biggest hurdle hasn’t actually been the words as it’s been the different way people say things here.

– Like I said in a previous post, Paraguayans share drinks with friends, family, and strangers alike. A few funny examples: today I went to the local high school and I asked for a glass of water. I was led to a table with a pitcher of water and three glasses which were obviously used by whoever came in and felt like taking a drink, which translates to hundreds of strangers. This didn’t deter me, however (I really AM becoming Paraguayan!) Also, as I was walking down the street the other day, I noticed two Paraguayan women lazily riding down the road on two different motorcycles (they’re called motos here, and are the most common form of transportation). They were passing a beer back and forth to each other WHILE riding on the two separate motos!  The extent that people go to here to share a frosty beverage in the heat…


Hope you enjoyed just another day in the life of Paraguay.

8 Comments so far
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Wow! This is very interesting. Thanks for sharing 🙂

Comment by Hello

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You have no idea how much these information helped me with my project about Paraguay thank you a LOT!

Comment by Maria

So glad I could be of help! 🙂

Comment by brittanygoesglobal

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Comment by Freddie

Great information! Thanks for Sharing 🙂

Comment by libby

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