If you were to look up the word “guapo” or “guapa” (the “o” ending for men and the “a” ending for women) in a Spanish dictionary you would likely find a definition like, “beautiful, cute, or physically attractive.” And, while that definition will serve you well in most places, it won’t in Paraguay.
In Paraguay, guapo or guapa means hard working. It is a complement that is lightly tossed around, but I think it has a greater weight than the joking way it’s delivered may imply.
If people think you’re guapa you’ll go far. Respect is given to people who work and especially those who work hard. Why? I don’t know yet, but I have some guesses.
- As you will hear many times, it is hot in Paraguay. Have you ever tried to do anything when it’s over 100 degrees and humid? It’s like trying to do calculus after staying up all night. You deserve brownie points for just staying awake.
- Things just take longer here (generally). Many people wash their clothes by hand and hang their clothes to dry. Some communities don’t have running water or modern stoves so people have to haul water, bucket bathe, and cook with a wood-burning stove. Paved roads are in the minority and newer to the scene.
- Paraguayan culture is laid-back. One of the main free time activities is sitting and drinking terere.