As it turns out, whatever it was that the lady at the Paraguayan consulate said to me the other day, apparently, was important after all. She was asking me to wait one more minute as I needed to sign a paper. In my defense, all I heard was "Come back in twenty-four hours...indecipherable Spanish...maybe a bit more indecipherable Spanish," right before she walked away. So what was I supposed to conclude, other than that I had been dismissed? The point of this being that I had to go back again today. ¡Ay, Dios mio! But at last I do have in my possession a bona fide Paraguayan visa, at the cost of USD$65 and good until 2014, bringing my dreams of revisiting Paraguay every year just one step closer.
The weekend, the weekend. On Friday night I went to Chabad for services, which was quite an experience as for the first hour and a half I was the only woman. And as women and men sit seperately, and the women's side was basically a tiny corner, I had to sit and listen to the men wax philisophic in Spanish and Hebrew on something about Yitzhak, only I couldn't really hear because there was, like, a big wall in the way. Finally, at nearly nine, all these girls pour in and we start services, and thankfully all the services are the same so I could follow along nicely. Except that the tunes were different, and the Chazan had the worst Ashkenazi accent I have ever heard. It was all Ado-nooooii and Emeeessss and all that. And yes, I realize maybe one of you knows what I'm talking about, but that one stands firmly with me on the side of extreme annoyance.
Afterwards the rabbi, who invited me, had me follow him upstairs (it wasn't creepy; everyone was going upstairs) to this room where two tables were set for food, one for the boys and one for the girls. I was pretty unsure what was going on, but I went with it. You know, whatever. Then he gives a little d'var torah, in which he's talking about Shidduchim (how proper Jews date!) and meeting the one you're supposed to marry and all that, and I realize that everyone there is young and, presumably, single. It's like speed-dating, only you can't actually sit next to/speak with/meet anyone of the opposite sex. Interesting. Then, he leaves. Yes, he just leaves, abandoning me. At this point, I am on one side of the table, and four girls are on the other side. Could they sense I was a convert? Could they (the horror!) smell the pork on my breath? I was deflated, and felt horribly out of place. But, in the interest of cultural rapport and empathy everywhere, I decided to make a fool out of myself and act like I was interesting and fun and, most importantly, ardently religious. I scooted my chair up to one of the girls and dove in with all the Spanish gusto I could muster, filling in with Hebrew when necessary since they all knew it anyway, and by the end of the night I had them convinced of my genuine Jewiness. One of them, the only married one, told me the story of how she had met and married her husband, which consisted of a set-up, two weeks of talking on the phone, one date and that's it: They were engaged. Beautiful, some might say, really really weird I would protest. But still, they seemed happy enough for a couple who were sitting on opposite sides of the room and not talking to each other.
So that was Friday night. Next time, I will bring Kati, since she's a Real Jew. Lets just hope we can get her to take off her cross for a night, cover up her....eh, dozen or so tattoos, and refrain from talking about her wife for an evening. Wish me luck, as I have the feeling not everybody gets a kick out pretending to be something they're not the way I do.