Apropos of Paraguay’s victory in this morning’s world cup match against Slovakia, here’s a photo I took almost 15 years ago:
This is a local match in the Paraguayan community where I lived as a Peace Corps volunteer. Our team, from Colonia 11 de Setiembre, beat Ype Jhu 2-1.
But that’s not why I’m sharing the picture. Do you see all that dirt mounded up in the foreground? That’s a mature nest of Atta sexdens, a leafcutter ant, right on the playing field.
I guess there are two points here. First, ants are an ubiquitous presence in Paraguay, getting into just about everything. It’s a myrmecologist’s paradise. Second, soccer is even more ubiquitous in Paraguay than ants- so that even a thriving city of 8 million ants in the middle of the field doesn’t deter the Paraguayos from their Futbol.
That’s why I love seeing little Paraguay- a forgotten landlocked country with a population only half the size of New York City- do so well on the world stage.