The Only Thing to Do Is Laugh

I learned very quickly that most Paraguayans are on the hunt for a laugh. And, as a stranger here, my mere existence is inherently funny. Yes, the constant jokes can be wearing, but I’ve also realized that looking for the next laugh is a pretty nifty way to live.

Paraguay, as a place, seems to reflect the humor of its people. It was not more than a day after posting Squashing More Than Roaches, in which I boast that I’m not scared to squash roaches with my flip-flops that my claims were put to the test.

On that evening I came home from visiting a family. I was in a good mood because I got invited to two lunches, a soccer game, and a party. I turned on the light and a large roach was chilling in the middle of my floor. The occasional roach is not a surprising occurrence, so I prepare to smash it. The only option is to annihilate a roach when I see it because of the anger (maybe unjustified) that boils up in me upon the sight of one.

If you’ve never had to go after a roach yourself, you can take my word when I tell you they are quick little buggers. So, this particular roach I tried to whack several times, with a floor detergent bottle I was saving for some recycling project, before I landed a good one. During the pursuit, I discovered 2 things: 1) there was another roach on the inside of the backdoor, which I proceeded to demolish as well, and 2) these two roaches were not alone. Concealed in the corner behind my bathroom door was a nice little cavern in the brick wall that was serving as a roach condominium.

An hour or so later the roaches were mostly defeated. I’d smashed nearly 15, maybe 20, with my detergent bottle, of various sizes. I’d probably poured more than a cup of bleach in to the roach cave. Like a cat I waited for more to emerge every time I flung more bleach into the roach hole. When they were mostly gone, according to a good inspection by the light of my headlamp, I decided to seal the rest of the roaches into the hole. I thought that maybe the bleach would finish them off, though I was doubtful because I’m pretty sure roaches could survive a nuclear ambush, but I handed it to fate. Plastic from an old soda bottle and duck tape closed off the roach den. I swept the shells of the roaches I had caught out the door—the ants or some other animal would disappear them.

I noticed my neighbors were hanging out in the back of their house, an odd thing because people in my site tend to hunker down when it gets dark. I looked at my now dented and stained detergent bottle. I had to laugh. The ruckus my insistent banging created was probably alarming, and I’m sure my expression during the fight was that of a crazed fanatic. Okay, Paraguay, you win, I walked right into that one.