Friday, May 26, 2006

"no sos mi novia," dijo el cynical plasticman, "¡sos la abominable mujer de las nieves!. ¡andá a depilarte!"

In the end, nothing really came of my concerns about a loss of classes. The boss's cousin is receiving a single, paltry class twice a week and the other new recruit, a taciturn, rotund Australian with a damaged face and hostile manner, is receiving a decent enough number for the moment. I've been sick with the flu and this week has been pretty tough. It's difficult to remain motivated when all you want to do is chuck in the whiteboard duster, then curl up & die...

I finally had the opportunity to check my bank account and, after months of trepidation, I'm pleased to say that I have exactly one point seven two pounds sterling in England. Which is better than having an overdraft, I can tell you. Due to the fact that - each month end for the last four - I've not really had the cash to feed myself, the thought of a possible mounting overdraft elsewhere had been giving my ulcers ulcers.

Talking about money always makes me feel a little morose, so it segues naturally & sadly into the next topic. One of A's friends died yesterday in a car accident. It's a fairly common occurrence in this country. She was very upset and had to go spend time at the velorio - fortunately, she didn't obligate me to go with her. Tears and dead bodies rank highly on my "I scream" flavour combinations list...

On the topic of road safety, I'll say it again: the driving here is absolutely effing appalling. Buses with plate-glass windows driving down the wrong side of the road, motobikers texting as they go, babies seated on the parents' laps as they drive. And something like 50% of the cars in this country were nicked from other countries. The government's trying legalise all the existing stolen cars, but, despite the possibility of having one's car seized by the police, no-one really seems to give a shit. Christ, my girlfriend's car is stolen - it was nicked from Brazil years ago...

A and I were drinking terere in the Plaza Uruguaya the other day when a drunk man approached and started talking to us. It turns out he used to be a policeman, but he lost his job because he discovered that a high-ranking officer was stealing cars and, when he refused to forget about the incident when asked to by the Comandante, he was fired.

It's not something that we hadn't heard before - anyone here will tell you that the Paraguayan police steal more cars than do the criminals - but when an ex-policeman tells you about it, it kinda makes you feel a little bit sad & dirty inside...

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

"callate!" grito el cynical plasticman, "o te doy el Dedo de Amor!"

The weather's turned nippy and the pool at Olimpia's turned green. I'm still swimming there, despite the crippling pain caused by the frigid water and the unbearable itching afterwards from the slimy and somewhat smelly water. I don't have the huevitos to ask that the management have the pool cleaned because, firstly, it'll probably never happen and, secondly, if the pool is cleaned, it'll probably contain extremely high quantities of toxic and/or biological substances kindly provided by the underpaid and disgruntled grounds staff.

Things are fairly decent at the mo. I've been working like the only monkey at an organ-grinder's convention, but today I'm a bit worried about whether my boss is going to start messing around with my schedule all over again. I get paid per class and he's just hired two extra teachers (one of them being his cousin who hardly speaks English) and is looking for classes for them. This being Paraguay, there's an order of hierarchy in the distribution of the classes - first the boss gives himself some classes, then his best friend gets all of the well-paid off-site classes, then his second best friend gets all the classes he can handle. And then the remaining classes are dished out to the other teachers according to how much favor or disfavor they've curried with the boss of late. With the arrival of his cousin, I imagine getting classes is going to become even more difficult...

I was in his good books, recently, and working my arse off. But today's been a bit quiet and I'm a little put out. I'm sick of having money problems. I would sell my body, but I'm currently using it.

You can take your nepotism and stick it is your ear.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

"tengo la abilidad de hablar gringo," dijo el cynical plasticman, "y este tipo dice que chupas Lo Grande, vos."

This is going to be short and sweet, as the missus is waiting en casa and we just had a tiffito, so best I get back sharpish to make things good. Living with a latina is fantastic, but pretty emotionally draining - you gotta get used to every extreme of emotion each day, every day... She drives me crazy, makes me jealous and insanely insecure, and then she makes me unbelievably happy. It's a montaña rusa and it makes me feel a bit queasy occasionally, but ride's a blast.

Anyway, we went to Brazil the other day. Crossing the border was fucking traumatic, pardon my Frog, as I've overstayed my visa by about six months and I didn't really want to get denied re-entry on the return. But, fortunately, there's an open border between Paraguay and Brazil and, if you don't want to show your passport, you don't really have to... But I developed a whole new set of ulcers at the border when the Brazilian anti-narcotics police started pulling people off the bus to interrogate them.

Anyway, we travelled by bus and boat for 22 hours to a teeny little island off the coast of Brazil and we passed five days drinking batida do coco, eating feijão and having dirty sex in the pousada. The island was gorgeous - beaches, mountains, surf and millions and millions of kangrejos. Fantastic. The sense of happiness and relaxation that we both felt there was something that, for me at least, I haven't felt for almost a decade.

You wouldn't believe how depressed we were to get back to Asunción...

But we've been back a couple of weeks and we've re-accustomised ourselves to the gritty city-ness. We're completely broke, though, and I'm probably going to be walking the five km's to work by Wednesday. But I'll be paid on Thursday and then it'll be back to the luxuries of mandioca frita and public transport.

(Mandioca frita with mayonnaise is no subsitute for a white sand beach and palm trees, but it helps the depression a little...)

Saturday, March 04, 2006

"i hear drums..." muttered the cynical plasticman, "either the natives are restless or my tinitus is having an identity crisis..."

I met the girlfriend's dad the other day. Nice enough chap, looking a little stressed and tired as do most of the SME business owners that I've encountered in this economy. It's kinda hard to make ends meet in this country, which is why A & myself have been talking about emigrating, once married, to somewhere where we can afford to buy a new pair of shoes at the end of the month if we need to...

The options are a little limited. A wants to go to Ireland or England and I want to go to Spain or Australia. Frankly, the thought of returning to England makes me want to hurt myself (or, on days when I'm thinking a little more clearly, to hurt small animals, orphans and mimes). I did my time and I don't want to go back, except maybe to visit some of the inmates.

We're spending the weekend in a hotel in Ciudad del Este all over again, as A's producing a commercial that's being filmed at the Cataratas de Iguazu. She's been hired by a Uruguayan production company, so she's being paid bugger all for the priv, but at least it gets us out of Asunción for a bit. The humidity's absolutely killer at the mo. I spend my days feeling like one big, sweaty testicle in the environmental equivalent of an underwashed & overused jock strap.

Clearly, my sense of humor is running a little strange at the mo. Money's been a bit tight and the missus has been unduly cranky due to her work & a number of known known, known unknown and unknown unknown factors, to misquote Donald Rumsfeld. Fortunately, after the closure of the swimming pool near my house last week, I managed to locate a decent, Olympic-sized pool at the Olimpia football club grounds about three kms down the road. It's a medio-fastidio to get to, but it's cheap and outdoors. I'll freeze my nuts off during winter, but at least I'll be in a good mood when I'm speaking in falsetto.

I rocked up at the club yesterday, pouring with sweat in the blazing heat and found my way to the Secretaria. The pool's for members only, they said to me, and you need a certificado médico to join. A lesser man might have wilted against such intractable unsouciance, but I stood my ground. "There isn't any way," I asked them, doing my best Christopher Walken, "that I could use the pool today. I'm dying, you see. The heat is killing me. I've come a long way. They took... (and here I choked up a little, tears in my eyes)... they took my pool away from me. A beautiful pool, with no roof. Blue, like the sky. A beatiful pool."

Anyway, that was more or less what I said, though I think what really convinced them was the fact that I clearly wasn't going to leave until I had swum, so in the end they relented and let me use the pool on the condition that I then left them alone.

I swam and it felt good.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

"holy shit, skippy," said the cynical bushranger, "they took yer leg..."

The heat right now is getting kinda oppressive. I like it, but, at the same time, it saps your energy and makes it hard to think. Of course, what with the fact that I haven't had a good night's sleep since about... (hmm, let me think) ... 1996, it means that I'm even more retarded than ever.

But I had a moment of clarity, yesterday. I was thinking about how happy I am at the moment (even though I'm poorer & more sunburnt than I've ever been in my life), and it kinda struck me that I haven't been putting in sufficient effort to make sure that I remain happy. So, this morning, I sat down with a pen & paper and wrote myself a list of things that I need to get sorted to ensure that, down the road a ways, things don't get difficult. Mostly boring administrative stuff, like sorting out my student loan from university, but also slightly more profound themes, such as establishing my personal goals for the next couple of years.

The irony of the moment is that the idea of returning to England at some point no longer fills me with the desire to end my life under the wheels of the nearest colectivo. I want to see my friends. But I guess that, if I make to Barcelona in nine months' time, the possibility of seeing them all again will be that much closer. The thought of seeing them all again fills me with joy, as does the prospect of earning in a currency that will allow me to travel & eat chocolate without resorting to selling other people's body parts.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

"dame lengua, nena," dijó el Cynical Plasticman, "y no me pongas el dedo ahí porque me duele un poco"

It's been a long while since I last wrote in this here blog. I've been busy, but having a good time whilst I've been at it. I guess that I'm picking up writing again for lack of anything better to do. As I always say, the people who don't have blogs are the ones who are having the really interesting lives...

Still working illegally as an English teacher in the sweaty heat of Paraguay. My earnings, thanks to the festive period & holiday season, have dropped to about a quarter of what they were a few months ago and, I'm pleased to say, this month I shall earn roughly motherf**k all. Just about enough to pay the rent, but not enough to keep me in chocolate to the standard to which I've become accustomed.

I've said goodbye, thank God, praise the Lord & hale-fucking-lujah, to the adolescents whom I was teaching a while back. We had a heart-to-heart chat a few weeks before the end of term when they asked if I would be coming back this year.

"Possibly," I said, gazing at them with my usual expression of fear & loathing. (They really were a very difficult bunch of malcriados.) "Why do you ask?"

"Because every other teacher has hated us and left."

"Really?" I said, in a tone of genuine surprise. I had expected to hear: "Because every other teacher has been apprehended trying to bring high-powered automatic weapons into the class..."

At which point I suggested that they seriously consider whether they should continue studying English or whether they might be better off at a different school with a different style of teaching. Little bastards.

Life is pretty sweet, though. I'm getting cravings for material things, due to the fact that I can hardly afford to buy a new t-shirt at the mo with the cash I'm earning. To give an example, a copy of Dan Brown's El Codigo Da Vinci costs around G100.000 here. This month I'll earn enough to buy seven copies of his book... So let's just say that I'm kinda re-living the cash-strapped existence I had when I first moved to London. Of course, I'm greatly helped this time 'round by the fact that I have a great job, great girlfriend & I'm living in a place I like. In London, I had a series of jobs that I hated, a strong right arm & overwhelming depression caused by the general miserableness of the place.

Enough about that. Things are going well with the missus, I'm still going to the gym & attempting to maintain relatively firm breasts, & I'm swimming a great deal & turning an ever-more delightful shade of nut-brown under the baking Paraguayan sunshine. In the months since I last wrote in this blog, I've matured as a person, learned more about myself & the truths of human relations and had a lot of really dirty sex. I spent Christmas at home with my girlfriend, in the hammock on our balcony watching thousands of fireworks go off across the city. Incredible. I've never seen anything like it before and it certainly beats Guy Fawkes' Day on Primrose Hill hands down.

And New Year's Eve was passed in the Hotel del Paraguay, an overpriced but comfortable hotel just outside the centre of town. That was buena honda, I can tell you. We spent New Year's Eve eating ice cream, swimming & seeing exactly how dirty we could make the sheets on the bed. (Which was pretty dirty, I can tell you. We're probably going to go to hell.) The best New Year's I've ever had.

As for my plans for this year... I don't know. I ain't got money to do shit right now, but the missus has said that she'll pay for us to go spend a week on a beach somewhere. Which appeals very much. And we've tentatively decided to head off to Barcelona at the end of the year. It's a little bit earlier than I expected - my plan was to see more of South America before heading to Spain, but I figure that the money we'll be earning in Europe will afford us the luxury of returning to South America at some point... Anyway, we'll see. Life has a funny habit of changing one's plans, so talk to me in nine months' time and we'll see what's happening.

And we're talking tentatively about getting married. This is something potentially very frightening & traumatic for your average male, but fortunately sunshine, exercise & chocolate are keeping me on an even keel. Though the dairy does give me wicked mean farts, though...

Paul out.

Friday, October 14, 2005

"i'm terribly sorry, m'dear," drawled the cynical plasticman, "your car is a little, well, hecho puta."

Things are going grand. Sleeping better, teaching hard, and living with the girlfriend's turning out to be quite good fun. Went to the Botanical Gardens the other day and, being a pasty rubio, I had to take my shirt off and keep it off until the smell of burnt bacon became all but overpowering... I'm still a little raw, but I'm glad to say that I'm finally getting some semblance of a suntan. Praise the Lord, as they say, and pass the Aloe Vera...

The weather's great - absolutely roasting. By 8am, the temperature's already hit 30 degrees and by lunchtime things are cooking nicely. Step outside and it's like being slapped in the face with a hot towel. I love it. Of course, the Paraguayans, who've had ample experience of this sort of weather during their lives, are less than enamoured with it. Perhaps my enthusiasm might wane as the temperature increases - after all, we've not had a day that's exceeded 37 degrees C yet, but it's going to be hitting about 44 in a couple of months' time.

For the moment, though, I am both pleased and without underwear.