Change Yourself…Change The World.

The Top 10 Questions I Get Asked in Paraguay
May 20, 2012, 8:44 pm
Filed under: Paraguay

In the almost year that I’ve been down here in Paraguay, I’ve started seeing a general formula of questions that I get asked by typically every Paraguayan. Paraguayans are extremely curious people, and there’s usually a string of questions they want to know about a foreigner, ranging from whether they like Paraguay to how much they weigh. It doesn’t matter whether it’s someone I just met or someone I see almost every day- the amount of times I get asked these questions on a weekly basis is about equal to the amount I breathe.

1. Do you like Paraguay?

Any answer other than emphatic ‘Yes!’ followed by a dazzling smile effectively ends all other questions.

2. Do you speak Guaraní?

If you don’t speak Guaraní that well, always the best answer is ‘mishimí,’ which means ‘a little.’ This makes Paraguayans smile broadly.

3. Do you have a boyfriend? 

This question is usually accompanied by a wink or nudge. Any boyfriend mentioned in the United States, another country, or another town effectively does not count as a boyfriend.

4. How long have you been in Paraguay/how long until you leave? 

This question is pretty normal, though generally I’m surprised I never get asked a follow-up question such as ‘And what do you do here?’ I mean come on guys, I have a whole speech memorized about the Peace Corps and our mission! I usually have to force it on them while their eyes glaze over.

5. Where do you live in the United States?

Generally most Paraguayans have little knowledge of places in the United States, besides ‘New York,’ Los Angeles,’ or ‘Miami’ (these are locations where some popular Paraguayan soap operas are based). But if you say you live an hour north of Miami, they nod their heads approvingly.

6. Do you know how to eat mandioca/carne asado/drink tereré?

This question is to prove whether you really know Paraguay, as mandioca is the staple side dish here, carne asado (grilled meat) is the most typical meal, and tereré is the Paraguayan beverage. An interesting fact: ‘Do you know how to ______?’ in Paraguay translates to ‘Do you like ______?’

7. How much do you weigh?

A universal question asked pretty much in every country I’ve been to except the United States.

8. How much rent do you pay for your house/how big is your salary? 

As an American living in Paraguay, you learn really quickly how to avoid questions such as these which are deemed awkward in our culture. I usually alternate between a ‘Why do you want to know?’ *mischievous grin* or a ‘It’s sufficient for me.’

9. Are there dogs/motorcycles/hamburgers/flip flops in the United States?

When you live a world away, sometimes it’s hard to imagine what amenities other countries hold. I remember when I first traveled abroad and thought India didn’t have things like batteries or towels…

10. Did you bathe in _______ river? Well, now you have to stay in Paraguay forever!

If you’ve gotten to this last question, it means that you’ve passed their question test and now they will love you like their own. And besides, if you obviously love Paraguay so much, then wouldn’t you want to stay here forever?!

Congratulations! If you can cheerfully answer all of these questions in Spanish/Guaraní with a smile and a few little snarky side comments thrown in (such as cursing in Guaraní, which sends any Paraguayan into hysterics), you are an officially integrated Peace Corps Volunteer!

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