Months ago, while at chuchi (super fancy) coffee stand in an even more chuchi mall in Asunción, I decided to splurge on a 12,000 Guarani cup of coffee. This decision did not come easy. After almost five full minutes staring at the menu, weighing the pros and cons of consuming such an extravagant treat, I went for it. Oh the sweet relief when the price tag matched my dreams for this drink. It had vanilla and chocolate and a little cream and I think I may have briefly left my body while consuming it. Whatever I gave up in exchange for blowing my budget for a hot beverage on a 90 degree day did not matter. This concoction hit the spot.
|I heart coffee.|
Did I mention that at today’s exchange rate 12,000 Guaranis converts to two dollars and seventy-one cents in US currency?
I knew getting into this that we would live differently, radically differently. Although I never had lavish tastes, pre-Peace Corps I usually did not think twice about buying anything under twenty dollars. Now, I give pause to every item priced over ten mil- $2.26. Yet, despite this dramatic shift in tax brackets, I don’t particularly feel a loss. The things we can’t afford, we don’t need.
I’ve always tried to live simply. When we packed our home into storage before leaving for Paraguay, I realized that I may have been fooling myself. In lieu of knickknacks and brand name clothing, we indulged in music, books, and kitchen gadgets. In site, we had two bowls, four plates, three spoons, and used an empty wine bottle for a rolling pin. This is living simply. The Viking food processor waiting for me in my parent’s basement is not.
Of course, sometimes I forget we have a budget. Some days, for example while drinking wine in a restaurant in the capital, I may order a second glass without checking how much cash I have left in my wallet. The thought, though, never strays far.
People adapt to situations and surroundings. Our fundamental design pushes us adjust to our immediate circumstance. We got used to Paraguay and, in just a matter of weeks, we’ll have to re-acclimate to life in the United States. The farther we get from earlier incarnations of ourselves, the more likely we forget the ways we used to live. While I have no intention of giving up the aforementioned food processor upon our return to the States, I hope we don’t lose everything we’ve learned from these frugal days. Because really, who needs more than one whisk?