Wednesday, November 7, 2007

My favorite word

"ikatu" means yes, no, and maybe. It means possibly, and if you add a "pa" to the end you can ask somebody to please do something. For example "Ikatupa get me some nachos."

This word can also be very dangerous. Last weekend I discovered why.

Sunday morning started like a lot of Sunday mornings for me here, I slept in (till about 9) and when I got up my host mom gave me some breakfast. This is a big Sunday treat because in most of Paraguay they don´t have anything substantial for breakfast most of the time. So I was enjoying my delicious hot plate of tortillas and cafè con lèche when my host dad says he´s going off the the field. I had no idea why he was going to the field because he was all dressed up and had a binder with papers in it. He doubled my confusion by saying "jaha" which means "we go" or "lets go" more literally, but apparently (I didn´t learn this until two days later) that word can also mean "see you later." Paraguayans are very indirect and lots of words have double meanings. I suppose english is the same way, but this is a part of the culture that will take some time to pick up. I am telling you all of this to tell you how confused I was right at the start of the day.

So later on the rest of the family (and I) head off to the party that I had no idea was taking place. Maybe they didn´t tell me because they thought I wouldn´t understand, or more likely they DID tell me and I didn´t understand. So I am sitting at the party (I will describe Paraguayan parties in another post) sitting back and checking out what´s going on. My language isn´t super strong yet in big social situations because there is more noise and confusion. I wasn´t looking to get into a big conversation. My host mom had other plans.

So interactions between guys and girls can be very different than they are in the US. I could spend a long time writing about what very little information I do know. So if this is confusing, welcome to my world.

My host mom comes over and tells me that this blond (very rare) Paraguayan girl is sending me "saludos" which is their way of saying i´m interested in you and would like to get to know you - sent through another person. I thought it couldn´t hurt talking to her and practicing my language a little bit so I brought my chair over and said hello. We talked for a while and despite my limited vocabulary we were able to communcate a decent amount. The problem with being able to communicate a little bit in a foreign language, is that they assume you know more than you do. This is where things started to get crazy.

This girl decided to make me her boyfriend.

I know some of you guys reading this might be thinking "congrats!" Like everything, it is more complicated than that here. In many parts of this country, if you are dating somebody you are already engaged in the minds of both families - and the families are very involved. By the end of the party both my host mom and the mom of this girl were there along with a bunch of other people. By now you may be wondering how I got into this hole.

I "ikatu´d" myself into it. I had been using that word to fall back on when she asked me something and I wasn´t quite sure of the meaning. Here is an example:

Her: ***** my house **** drink **** some time ***
Me: ... ikatu...
Her: Do you think paraguayan women are pretty?
Me: Sure I do
Her: ***** ** **** ***** *** *...?
Me: ... ikatu...

It went on like that for a while and after a while she started talking about things that I won´t repeat here. In a 1 on 1 conversation I could have held my own, but the situation turned into 6 people machinegunning questions at me in a language I barely understand.

Is the story over? We will see next week!

5 comments:

Adam Durr said...

Lol, this was pretty funny. I havent laughed this hard in awhile. I apologize for laughing. If this gets serious I will fly down there and come get you.

kalie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
kalie said...

I think we've all already heard this plot line on Family Guy, Austin... real creative.

Flip said...

Thanks alot for ruining the story Kalie... I didn´t even get to write about them making me their king. I had it all planned out...

Time for a plot twist!

Jaime said...

dude the suspense is killing me...are you married yet??? if so then you proved both david and me right in our canada predictions...