What it’s like to be 87 in Paraguay

I live with a family here in Asunción. That family consists of Fatima, the most well-known biologist in Paraguay (and likely South America,) who is a resident of WWF, and her 87-year old mother.

Fatima pretty much works all the time and is rarely around the home, but for Sunday Family Lunch, and occasionally for a short period of time in the evenings. This means that her mother, let’s call her Abuela to make things easier, is home alone most of the time. Oh wait, except that I am home with her.

Image thanks to Creations by Artisans with Disabilities at Craftworks

Hello, Abuela!

Abuela started to leave her impressions on me from early on. She is 87. She loves to travel and most recently returned home from a trip to Israel. She has a very active social calendar, meeting friends at Confiterias (bakeries), going to church, and sitting outside on the front sidewalk with all her friends in the neighborhood, (usually about 4-5 other women from the olden days.) She exercises multiple times a week, taking half hour walks around the neighborhood, usually with her friends and neighbors. And every Saturday morning she cooks a huge meal for her family, myself included.

This is not a woman who is “old” or frail in any way. She still has the same zip I would imagine she had 10 years ago. Only maybe a little more set in her ways than she might have previously been.

Living with Abuela has been a true learning experience, partially in learning how to cook with a gas oven and stove, but primarily in patience. I am beginning to understand what it means to live with other people, as for three years I had my very own studio apartment in NYC. And I am learning what it means to hold back annoyance and frustration.

Abuela does not like when someone cooks “too much” as it wastes gas, which was recently in short supply in Paraguay, (you can read about that here), uses two different lights within the kitchen at the same time, doesn’t unplug the washing machine after using it, accidentally leaves their air conditioning unit on when out at a play, and lastly, when she doesn’t trust that you will know how to properly lock up the house when going out for a while.

Yes, living in this house has taught me many things. I am grateful to have my own casita (little house), but I must admit that entering the Abuela zone at mealtimes is an experience all it’s own, where I will likely hear about the wrong-doings of the day over a cup of yogurt, or a hot stove.


29 responses to “What it’s like to be 87 in Paraguay

  1. Life in Paraguay is “easier”…I’m from Paraguay, but living in Chile…and I miss almost everything. From living in an apartment, to having your own casita…I’m guessing it’s more like an upgrade, isn’t it?

    Abuelas in Paraguay are very important, I never had one, but I’ve met all my friend’s abuelas. They rule, they cook, and they love.

    Enjoy all those meals, all that “green”, and all that kind people 🙂

  2. My Suegra lives with me. I think she and Abuela would get along. Shall I send her down to Paraguay? 😉

    (Congrats on being on the WordPress dashboard, which is how I found you.)

  3. Thanks for the insight. I wonder if my grandmother would have been like that. Of course she’s not from Paraguay.


  4. I guess “abuelas” are pretty much the same everywhere! 🙂

  5. Im from puerto rico and mi abuela is a lot like your abuela 🙂 Busier than all her children and grandchildren combined and cooking large meals on sunday for the family.

  6. Latina grandmothers rule the house, family…maybe even world. 🙂

  7. There is no substitute for life experience. One of the best things about the elderly is how they are stuck in their ways.

  8. What an awesome experience! I had an abuela in Costa Rica, and she was sassy, determined, and social. Everyone had parties at our house, but abuela’s were the biggest.

  9. I love abuelas! Especially in Paraguay. I lived there for 2 years in 1977 and 1978. It was a long time ago, but I met many abuelas and I loved all of them. They were so unique, full of life, and full of experience.

    I live in Utah and have my mother and father-in-law living with my family. I love them too. Especially days like today when I ate homemade bread made by none other than my mother-in-law! Thanks for sharing your experience.

  10. I’m a single child and I live in NYC. I practically incapable of living with other people. Maybe I need some aburela training 😀

  11. Sounds like fun! I envy these people their spunk! Good for her! Congrats on being Freshly Pressed, everyone needs an Abuela!


  12. I would like to see an abuela. No it’s not that I don’t have grandmothers or parents, just that you have put this in such a way that it is IRRESISTIBLE!! My mind is literally chanting Abuela.. Abuela right now 😀
    P.S. Congrats on Freshly Pressed!


  13. Well, I’m only 22 but I;m felling older than Abuela! I don’t do half os the stuff she does and I really don’t have her patience. Great live experience!

  14. Oh I would love to have my own abuela!

  15. I am (almost) 87 in the USA ((9/30/23) and I cannot imagine what it is like to b that old in some other countr.

  16. Aww.. I just miss my lola (that’s how we call abuelas in our place). Nothing beats the grandmother-grandchild relationship. they share a common enemy – parents. 😉

  17. Such a funny way to describe the intricacies of living with an Abuela! I guess there’s always two sides to an experience. As you’ve figured out, living with Abuela helps you learn to be patient. What a virtue to acquire in life! 🙂

  18. Always wanted to go there.

  19. with me there, there’d be no such thing as cooking “too much.”

  20. I miss my grandma so much! I grew up with her and for many years we shared the same bed (we did not have a large house). So we were very close and I am such a better person because I had such a woman in my life for 25 years. I would do anything to feel her soft skin, taste her meals, see her smile, hear her sing just once more. Cherish each moment dearly.

  21. We can always learn so much from the elder generation. We just need to spend time with them in order to do so. Great post! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  22. I think I like abuela… ^^

  23. It amazes me how spritely old people are in certain countries. I live in South Africa and most people I know don’t seem to live to be 87, let alone have the social life of someone in their prime. I wonder what it is – less stress? a healthier diet?

  24. Not sure how i feel about her and her rules. But if she resembles that little piece of felt in the photo at all, who cares, shes adorable!

  25. amandasperspective

    Thanks for all the comments, love hearing people’s stories about families – particularly those with similar “Abuela” experiences to mine!

  26. “Abuelas” are the best! Unfortunately my one is not here anymore, but this post made me remember her today, thanks!

  27. she sounds amazing!! made me think of my old grandma who was an iron woman to me when she was alive. wish i could be more like her.

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