A week or so ago Elijah (boyfriend) came to visit me in my site. When I told my mom some of the different stories about his visit she said that I needed to put it in my blog. So here it is, the adventures of Elijah in Valois Riverola:
I had almost been in site for 3 months when Elijah finally came to visit. In his defense, I was living with different host families for the first 2 months so he really couldn’t visit me for those 2. My host sister, Lourdes, is 26 and has been giving me a lot of grief about the fact that her boyfriend (who is 53) visits every weekend and mine never comes. She went so far as to imply that he didn’t exist. However, when she and some of the other younger women in town found out that I was dating a ‘rubio’ (blond in Spanish but they use it more to describe fair skin here), she said that I should watch my back. When she first said this it was in a playful tone and I wasn’t too concerned. I should have realized how serious she was.
The appeal of an American boyfriend for a Paraguayan woman goes past their love of fair skin and blue eyes. The reason for this is that Paraguayan men are worthless around the house. Seriously, it is sad to watch. For example, my host brother Marcus lives in Asuncion. Marcus is 23 and recently started dating Lorena who is 17 (not illegal in Paraguay, and fairly normal). They come visit Marcus’ family about every weekend. When they come Marcus brings all of his dirty laundry from Asuncion. Lourdes used to wash all of his clothes but now since he is dating Lorena it is her job. Lourdes’ boyfriend, Alejo, also brings all of his dirty clothes for Lourdes to wash. Keep in mind that we are in the middle of a huge drought and have to bring up buckets of water to put in a little machine that covers the clothes in soap. We then carry the clothes in buckets on our heads and bring them down to the well (it belongs to Don Louis, but he lets us use it since ours is dry) to rinse about 3 times. It probably takes an hour and a half for me to wash all of my dirty clothes. This is usually only 4 days worth of clothes because we wash them twice a week. So these guys bring a week worth of dirty clothes for their girlfriends to wash. While the women are washing clothes they are also cooking lunch. What are the men doing during all of this you ask? They are drinking terere in the shade!
Back to Elijah’s visit: Elijah came to see me on a Friday. I had planned on washing my clothes on Thursday before he got there because I had missed the last 2 laundry days and had a ton of dirty clothes. The problem is that it rained on Thursday so I couldn’t wash my clothes (they have to dry on the barbed wire, which yes does leave a ton of holes in my clothes). I told Elijah this and he said not to worry, we could just do laundry together on Friday. When I told Lourdes on Friday that Elijah was going to help me carry water from the well to put in the machine she was absolutely outraged. She said that he needed to sit and drink terere while I brought the water up. The water buckets are really heavy, 40 pounds when full. Elijah told her he wanted to help and proceeded to help me bring water up, wash my clothes, rinse my clothes, and put them on the line. The women of the family were mesmerized.
Then that Sunday, Elijah and I ate lunch with Lourdes’ family. She told him to go sit down while we prepared lunch but he said he didn’t want to. She then caught him going down to the well with my water buckets to fill them up and wash the dishes we had used the night before. Her jaw fell open. She then yelled at me and said he would never come back the way that I treated him. By this point Lourdes’ has begun paying more and more attention to Elijah. Telling him to sit with her and drink terere while I go fill the water buckets. She also starts telling me how she thinks he is really good looking. Finally on the day Elijah is going to leave, Lourdes tells him he has to come say bye to her personally. She told him he was always welcome and she’d try not to let me over work him the next time he came.
For the week after he left Lourdes has asked me questions about him and constantly made comments. “I am sure Elijah helps his family make dinner” then, “I bet Elijah knows how to dig out mandioca”, it goes on and on. Then last week she went so far as to ask me if my parents minded that I was dating him. I at first assumed she meant because he has a lot of tattoos, or maybe because he doesn’t have a left hand (I didn’t mention this earlier, but this adds to his ‘guapo’ hard working affect in the eyes of the Paraguayan women). She then continues by asking if it would bother my parents that I am bigger than him. I turn to face her with my jaw hanging down and see that she has a very smug smile on her face. Sassy Lourdes. Also, I feel like it should be noted that I am not actually bigger than Elijah.
It was a very interesting experience seeing the way that Paraguayans view relationships. Lourdes has been dating her boyfriend for 5 years but she is currently looking for a new, younger boyfriend because she thinks Alejo is too old for her to marry. She also thinks that any one else’s boyfriend is fair game. She considers herself lucky because she thinks her boyfriend is too old for anyone to want to steal. Hopefully her infatuation with Elijah will pass but for now it is pretty entertaining to watch.