Change Yourself…Change The World.


Pros and Cons
March 21, 2012, 11:03 pm
Filed under: Paraguay

Tonight my fridge broke down.

For no apparent reason, my fridge suddenly turned off, and it won’t turn back on again. Coming to this realization at 10:40 PM at night, I realized there’s not really a whole lot I can do in this situation. No one is awake to come fix my fridge at my beck and call. My neighbors are asleep, so I can’t put my food in their fridge, meaning that everything I cooked for the week will now spoil before tomorrow, which also means all the money I spent for those ingredients the past week were for nothing. On top of that, who knows how much fixing this fridge could cost me? Fixing fridges are expensive. And what if my fridge is un-repairable? It’s certainly possible, considering I bought my fridge at a pawn shop five months ago; I don’t have the ‘guaranteed’ stamp of a new fridge, meaning it can be replaced for free. While before I thought I was super clever buying a used (but brand-new looking) fridge for $100 less than a new one, now I’m kicking myself since I’ll have to spend $300 to get a new one. Oh, did I mention I have about $9 in my Paraguayan bank account right now?

This major inconvenience is merely a part of a series of setbacks that has plagued me over the past couple of weeks. It started with finding unidentifiable green chunks in my drinking water, followed by being charged 5 times the amount for my electricity bill (because apparently the electricity company in Paraguay doesn’t actually check anyone’s meter and makes up random prices- I guess they finally realized a foreigner is living in this house), realizing I was allergic to a whole slew of fruits, getting blisters on my heels the size of Africa (it hurts to walk), having my good American-made kitchen knife stolen from my outside sink (in lieu of all the other utensils, plates, and pans sitting out there… funnily enough, this bothered me the most), and the usual spiders-as-big-as-my-hand popping up in my poorly insulated house.

These things can put a damper on your spirits- I mean, who wants to deal with green chunks in their drinking water? But I find it interesting that the more these things happen, the less it bothers me. A couple months ago, sewage coming up through my shower drain and mold creeping through my walls crippled me, leading to expensive investment fix-it-alls that really lead to nowhere except empty promises and throwing money down the drain. Today, I still get frustrated with all of these utter inconveniences, but it also gives me a deeper perspective. So, my fridge broke. So, it’s the end of the month and I don’t have the money to fix it because I live on a local salary and live month-to-month without being able to save anything (how ironic that this morning I gave a presentation on live TV about ways families can save). So, I can rage and scream bloody murder and rail against an unjust world that would make my fridge break two days before I’m supposed to leave for the capital and work on the Peace Corps tri-annual magazine for a week. Why can’t life just be EASY?

However, stepping back and looking at the bigger picture makes me realize that while my life down here in Paraguay is chock full of inconveniences and frustrations that I NEVER experience in the blissful United States (from huge issues like a full septic tank in my backyard, to minor ones like having to cook every single meal from scratch, or spending six hours doing my laundry by hand), this is a life so commonly lived by millions of people around the world. People who, like me, buy used fridges because it’s cheaper, and then have no option when it breaks down since they have no money to pay for a new one. People who, in emergency situations, don’t have the money to buy medication when they get sick (lucky for me the Peace Corps pays for all of my medical necessities), or to buy food at the end of the month for their family. In fact, by Paraguayan living standards I’m given a modest but fixed and dependable salary every month, and I certainly can’t say that for other Caazapeños, many who make their living in retail sales, or jobs on-commission.

So at the end of the day, what do I really have to complain about? I can get frustrated that the life here isn’t as easy and comforting as it is in the United States, or I can realize and accept that hundreds of millions of people around the world don’t have access to the luxuries and conveniences we do, and that I am living and understanding that very life through the daily frustrations I experience here. Through those frustrations come perspective, empathy, understanding, and new ideas. However endlessly annoying it is, my fridge breaking down builds character and reinforces one of the major reasons why I’m here: to learn.

With all of that being said, I’m praying that tomorrow a repairman will skip on over to my house at a reasonable hour, tighten a screw, and my fridge will magically start working again. Here’s hoping.


1 Comment so far
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I don’t own a ridge. It’s not that bad. You’re goal of cooking for the week will go out the window however. I’ve got a few tips on the no fridge life if it comes to that. No worries.

Comment by Taylor




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