Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Aliens in Paraguay

So I came into Asuncion for the weekend. It’s a long bus ride, six to eight hours. Six hours on a good day when there are not people getting on and off the bus every 200 feet, and eight hours if the bus gets two flat tires and the engine breaks and another bus has to come to pick up the people on the broken bus. That happened. The best bus to take is the one that leaves around 1:30 AM from my town and gets into Asuncion around 7:30 AM. This is the best bus because the weather is cool, the bus doesn’t stop a lot because there are not many people waiting by the side of the road in the middle of the night, and you can sleep on the bus to begin work early in the morning once you hit Asuncion.

That is if you can fall asleep.

For the first hour of this particular bus ride I could not fall asleep. So I begin thinking about stuff, really I thought about one thing. As I passed by miles and miles of unpopulated Paraguayan countryside I began to think that if I were an alien visiting Earth and wanted to remain unseen, Paraguay would not be a bad place to land. Might be better to land in Alaska where the population density is about 1 person per square mile but Alaska is cold. Paraguay would be pretty good, it’s warm and sparsely populated. Really for miles and miles by bus there are 5 towns, the rest is just deep dark humid campo, perfect for an alien. Furthermore Paraguay has a variety of legends about things that go bump in the night, so there is already a way to explain the presence of a thing like an alien if you were to be seen by a human. Here are some examples of the myths in Paraguay that would go a long way to rationalizing the presence of an alien(this is taken verbatim from Project Paraguay):

The Kurupi is a very interesting legendary monster, and is still believed today by many people. The Kurupi is a very short, ugly, and hairy being. He lives in the forests and takes care of the animals. Another characteristic that makes the Kurupi stand out was that he is said to have an enormous penis that is wound around his waste several times, and for this reason he was said to be the god of fertility. As being the god of fertility, the Kurupi is blamed for unwanted or unexpected pregnancies. The Kurupi was said to be able to impregnate girls without even entering the house because his long penis would go through windows, doors, or other openings in a house. The Kurupi was used as someone who the women would blame on for cheating on their husbands. He was also said to take women at night, and take them to the forest to satisfy his desires.

Here's a picture of Kurupi:

Pombero's original name in the Guaraní language is Kuarahy Jára, literally "Owner of the Sun", though he is said to be a primarily nocturnal creature. In some parts of Argentina he is known primarily by the Spanish translation of his name, "Dueño del Sol". Although accounts of the Pombero's appearance and nature vary slightly from one community to the next, he is usually described as being short and ugly, with hairy hands and feet. His hairy feet are said to give him the ability to walk without being heard. He is also often described as wearing a large hat and carrying a knapsack over his shoulder. It is also said that the Pombero generally dwells in rural areas, living in the forest, although he will sometimes choose to inhabit an abandoned house. The Pombero is generally viewed as a harmless troublemaker. Owing to his preferred habitat of rural forests, the targets of his mischief tend to be rural farmers. Among his favourite activities are setting loose cattle, stealing eggs, chicken and honey, frightening horses and causing them to throw their riders off, as well as scattering corn, rice, or other provisions. The Pombero is also often accused of impregnating single women either by a mere touch of his hand or by raping them in the night, and it is said that babies who are born ugly and hairy are likely the result of a visit from the Pombero. Another character from Guaraní mythology, the Kurupi, is blamed in a similar manner for unexpected or unexplained pregnancies. The Pombero is difficult, if not impossible, to detect due to his silent movements as well as other supernatural abilities, such as being able to turn invisible, squeeze through impossibly narrow spaces, or other such feats. It is said that one can keep the Pombero from engaging in such mischief by leaving gifts out for him, most specifically cigars and rum, though honey is also an acceptable offering. Thus appeased, the Pombero will abstain from wreaking havoc upon one's home and possessions. In some areas it is believed that repeated giving of these gifts can cause the Pombero to become friendly, to the point where he will guard over one's home, animals, and possessions, and sometimes even leave gifts in return.

Here's a picture of Pombero:

There are many more myths in Paraguay but those are two of my favorites. My favorite part about these myths is that as the descriptions point out many people in Paraguay really believe that these things exist. My host dad insists that Pombero exists and that when I smoke a cigar late at night it is prudent to leave the still burning end of the cigar on the ground so that Pombero can come and smoke it and won't hit me but will instead make friends with me. He also says that if hear something in the middle of the night that sounds like baby chickens chirping it is most defintely Pombero. That's exactly what he says. I think in this particular case he is just messing with me, but it's always fun to think that he's not and he actually believes these monsters roam around in the night.

So if you were an alien, and people saw you they would just say you're one of these mythical creatures.

Not much else to report. It’s so hot here. It takes forever to get anything done. I'm super pooped tired. I’m having the time of my life. More later.

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