Paraguay Blog #7: Blancaflor

¿Que… chúlina?

It was a sunny, 100° afternoon, and the rest of the chores had already been doled out. So why not offer to rake the yard, amiright?

I finished off pre- and post-rake Nalgene bottles of water and my face was still dry as a bone by the time I finished. That’s– that’s not right, is it? Naw, naw that can’t be right.

And thus ended my gardening career in Paraguay.

On the plus side: I raked through a bunch of ant hills and came away with nary a bite. Am I awesome? I’m awesome. I did accidentally poke a giant toad with my plastic rake, but he seemed to take it in stride. Prolly ’cause he realized it was simply an effect of my guapa-ness.

I had to double check with Christie on the definition of “guapa” because it’s used differently in Paraguay than anywhere else. Elsewhere guapo/guapa means “good looking,” (and as I recall, that’s how it was used when I first learned it here back in the early 90s), but here- now- it means “hard working.”

I will accept either usage.

Absurdly enormous wedding party? Close. Quinceañera.

We hit up the grocery store earlier today to pick up some stuff for when some friends of the family stop over this weekend on their way home from Chile, plus a few decorations for Camille’s birthday party on Sunday. It’s her 15th, but she’s decided not to do the whole SUPER MEGA HAPPY PSEUDO-WEDDING FUN TIME QUINCEAÑERA thing. I have to say I’d probably have made the same call.

People here save for their daughters’ “quinces” from the time the girls are born, invite everyone they’ve ever met, decorate with more balloons than any one person will ever have enough air to blow up on their own, dress the girl up like a bride, and announce to the world that she’s now an adult- – so come ‘n’ get ‘er.

Christie mentioned a girl she once knew whose mother was upset because her 15 year old daughter didn’t have a boyfriend by the time of her quince. In contrast, I wasn’t allowed to have a boyfriend until I was 16. It’s just such different cultural timing that it really doesn’t seem like it would translate well for the average North American teen. Especially since our culture is all about prolonging childhood as long as possible. I’ve known some mature 15 year olds in my time, but ain’t none of ’em been “adults”!

Camille’s “quince” will include people dressed in comfortable clothing and enjoying pizza, cake, and volleyball. And to think the poor dear could’ve had all this instead:

Ergh. Watching that gave me the icky-chills. Ooh! There they were again!

Before I head out to the porch to enjoy a frozen cup of coconut yogurt (*waves to the folks back home in Wisconsin where it is currently below 0°*), I shall leave you with the following picture. May it be a reminder to us all that you are NEVER too busy baking to be awkwardly offensive:

Because nothing says “self-rising flour” quite like blackface.



  1. Ahh. I remember Blancaflor. Self-rising flour. When I taught myself to bake I also had to teach myself to account for the self-rising flour, since Blancaflor the ONLY kind my mom ever bought. In retrospect there are a whole lot of things about our life in Paraguay that seemed perfectly o.k. when I was a kid, that as an adult leave me shuddering: Blancaflor, La Negrita bakery, the creamed corn from South Africa (as in, apartheid South Africa … as in, no one else in the world would accept South Africa’s exports so they dumped a bunch of them on Paraguay), our frequent Sunday lunches at a Japanese restaurant called Hiroshima. In the past few years I’ve said to my parents more than once “Remember xyz. Uh … didn’t that bother you?” And they’d just sigh and shake their head and say “We did the best we could. And yes, we knew it was weird.”

  2. Yeah, I could only stomach 10 seconds of that Quinceanara video.

    And I’m a bad friend and a bad person and a bad blogger because I didn’t even remember you were in Paraguay until now. I will be reading the other posts for penance and for pleasure.

    1. Oh you *must* have another go at the video. Must! I couldn’t watch it straight through because it was too boring but letting it load and then skipping forward in chunks did the trick. Absolutely unreal. When I think about the “dream life” I could live on just the money they spent on that party… wow…

      And I’d prefer you read my other posts simply for pleasure, but maybe that’s hoping for too much, and so I will accept penance-viewings as well.

      Oh you! Even just seeing you online like this is such a delight for me! Do I tell you often enough how much I just really, genuinely like you? Oh you. :D

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