Life of Hardin in Paraguay

Laugh as you travel through life with Josh Hardin.

Location: Spring Hill, TN, United States

Josh Hardin began writing in high school and published his first novel when he was twenty-two. He won an EPPIE award for his mystery novel "The Pride of Peacock." His non-fiction work includes "The Prayer of Faith", a book aimed at making personal prayers both powerful and effective. He has traveled widely and taught a summer philosophy course at the International University in Vienna. Hardin grew up in Tennessee and moved to Paraguay in 2006. He moved back to Tennessee in 2008.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Life of Hardin Vol. III, No. 13

Service While You Wait

Wal-Mart. That’s where you go when you need . . . grape juice . . . or a light bulb . . . or tennis balls . . . or a last minute Christmas present . . . or a new muffler. But that’s not where you’d go here in Paraguay . Here you would go to the local stop light. That is where you get what you need. That is where you go when your weekly paycheck just came in, or you are stir crazy in the house, or it’s Saturday night and you’ve got nothing better to do but browse.

Wal-Mart has nothing on service when compared to an Asuncion stop light. At Wal-Mart you actually have to get out of your car and go in the store. But at a stop light in Asuncion the goods are brought right to your window. You can get anything you need. You just have to know which stop light to browse.

Fruits and vegetables are at the corner of Santos and Espana. Little men run up to your car window with baskets full of apples, oranges, strawberries, all sprayed down with water and arranged so that they look like the pyramids along the Nile . The vendors are very nice and concerned about your health. They know you need your daily dosage of fruit. They will insist on you buying fruit, will persevere despite your protestations, and rarely take it personal when you knock them over with a car door. At the corners of Espana and Sacremento, Mariscal Lopez and Senador Long, and most of the downtown stop lights are the electronics sections. There you can find CD’s, CD covers, cell phones, cell phone covers, and tomorrow’s DVD’s today. Also available at these fine corners as well as the corner of Espana and San Martin we have automotives. There you can find steering wheel covers, oil filters, windshield wipers, and this thing that looks like a huge rubber gasket but might be a turban, I don’t know. It has not sold for some months now and must have everyone else perplexed as well. That could be its purpose. It is a Perplexer, and it is the best I have seen.

Then there is the clearance aisle. This is at the corner of Aviadores del Chaco and Madame Lynch, although once in a while, when the tide is up, clearance items are found on every corner. One man, on this particular corner, had a spatula; a strainer; alien party favors whose antennae extended when you blew their necks; a mesh laundry bag full imitation Nerf soccer balls, volleyballs, and softballs; a CD album; car freshener that smelled vaguely of the type of incense that triggers a gag reflex; and a hot water bottle (his crown jewel). A small list of other clearance items, found at random places, is included (see Appendix A).

On every Saturday these close down and make way for the newsboys. They are quite a disappointment, however. Never once have I had an, “Extra! Extra!” shouted at me nor heard a really good lie of a headline. This is probably why I have never bought a paper here. One day I will take a young newsie under my wing and teach him to charge double for his last copy.


Other Items Found for Sale at Stop Lights

Fingernail clippers
Deflated soccer balls
A hair cutting kit complete with comb and scissors
Advertisement fliers (available for only a small donation)
Assorted candies
Map of the city
Laminated multiplication tables up to 12x12
Some kind of native Indian weaving things
Homemade bread
Homemade candy that appears to be peanut brittle but promises to taste more similar to the underside of an old shoe