Saturday, June 23, 2012

Paraguay ya

I can´t remember an occasion when Friday ever followed Sunday, but it happened just the last two days. We came into Resistencia last Sunday from Jujuy. Jujuy being higher up and more arid. A place where they sell coca and bica at the kioskos, where there is a lot of influence coming down from the Bolivian border, not just cultural, but geographical influence, like the Andes that life La Paz have kind of dribbled down into Argentina. Driving across the northern part of the country to Resistencia you come down into the Chaco which is something like an endless scrub plain that´s not really worth talking about. I´d be tempted to compare it with eastern Montana, a little more thorny. Driving across the Chaco the clouds set upon us. I hardly realized; they seemed to go along with the landscape. With so many leafless branches twisting around us, it seemed natural that the sky should look equally barren. We got into Resistencia after dark, a nice square and pedestrian walkway, but otherwise fairly unremarkable. I went to bed and got up early the next day, Sunday, to go skate. The park was nice, and even under the leaden sky I enjoyed talking with the curious group of kids that had meandered over and later trying to play truco with a kid of about thirteen who was pretty good, but luckily, for once, wasn´t noticeably better than me. At some point I put my headphones back on and went back to losing myself in the unusual movements of skatepark skating, movements that require an indirect kind of attention that helps to quiet customary thoughts and actions. Standing damp and out of breath I talked on the phone for a while, feeling like my lungs were too big and my skin too warm, while the kids that had since come to the park skated around and occasionally looked up at me to see if I was still the guy speaking this plosive and rubbery language so loud into a cell phone or if someone else had since taken my place. I told everyone I met that I would probably only be in Resistencia for another day. That was last Sunday. I´m still here. We did our shows here on Monday. Drove to the Paraguayan border on Tuesday. Crossed it, after paying some extra fee. I walked through downtown Asunciòn at night, not even that late. It must´ve been about 8:30, around the time when life if beginning to stir in earnest in Argentina, even in the small towns. Not so here. Prolapsed streets, with dead storefronts and somehow very antiquated-looking streetlights with too many wires attached to them skirt between little marble and crystal hotels. I imagine the early 20th century looked a lot like this in the more industrial parts of the world. Here there were the opulent outposts of the robber-barons amidst the otherwise dark and empty streets. There was nothing minatory about the place, despite what I had been repeatedly told. There were very few people walking around, but those I met seemed to have nothing more on their mind other than their destination. It was cold and the squares (Uruguaya in particular) were empty of people. A few dogs trotted around, you could hear their papery scrounging sounds coming from most recessed areas. A few pastry shops were open and a cafè that looked modest but boasted clientele that all wore suits and had shellacked-looking hair. There was nothing to do but maybe buy a chipa and sit down and eat it in one of the silent cafes. I went back to the room. The TV didn´t work so I never saw Paraguayan TV. The rest of the city almost looked like one of those new suburban cities of the US. Everything was really spread out and inconvenient distances separated complimentary businesses. Very few people seemed to be walking. Traffic cops waved the cars through red lights, according to the flow of traffic in a given area. Coca Cola ads had attacked the cityscape. It looked as if the stuff had just been introduced into Paraguay and Coke had to rush to catch these people up with the rest of the world. These ads were not of the quiet forgettable type either. They were quite often of the flashing, pouring, vertical and legion shock and awe type. It looked like all the old Coke ads from time square had been sent to Paraguay. I don´t think anyone really cared. I didn´t once see anyone drinking the stuff, not even in the mall where we stopped just before driving back down to Resistencia. Two days later Fernando Lugo, the president, had been ousted in what some say was a coup. With all the Coke ads and silent streets, I never would´ve seen it coming. Thursday, it´s raining here. It rains all day, there´s some thunder in the late afternoon. With the day off, I wander around in the rain long enough to walk to the edge of town and back. When a street ended in a sloping lawn, I followed it. There was a pond at the end of it. The rain made little silver ringlets in the dark water. A dog eyed me suspiciously from a nearby doorway. The grass was long and filled with trash. Some kind of beautiful birds flew by and there were some large fish thrashing around near the surface of the water. The serenity didn´t hold my attention long, but it was enough for such a gloomy day, a Sunday that came out of a Thursday afternoon siesta, taking me by surprise, but I doubt the rest of the Resistencia population paid it much attention. They were probably all too busy napping behind the dim windows and the shuttered store fronts. I was a ghost, haunting the last day of Lugo´s presidency. The next day was Friday.

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