Friday, May 30, 2008

Estoy aqui!

Hola todos! We´re here. We´re settled. We´re overwhelmed by the idea of learning Guarani by teachers speaking Spanish.

We´re in the town of Guarambare in an internet cafe where things seem to move the speed of Paraguay. I´m in the Rural Economic Development group, so they sent us out to live with families off a red dirt road in Avierra.

Our training grounds are beautiful, with little huts around a main building. There are many plants here that are similar to Florida= bananas, oranges, tangerines, etc. There are giant shoots of bamboo as well. It feels like paradise, but it´s still cool outside...

My family consists of a father, mother, three sisters (22, 12 and 3 of different generations which I plan to decipher later) They presented me with a bed, dresser and a nightlight, showing me how to use the last one three times.

The host sister closest to my age at first didn´t know what to think of me. We walked to the store together and to break the silence I just found myself talking to the animals. Hola vaca. Hola pollo. Hola pato. There is much vaca caca to look out for.

Things loosened up when I busted out the Frisbee and taught her and the 12 year old to throw. There was the universal laughter that happens when you look like an idiot trying new things. I think I will know that well.

We went to buy milk at the farm where one of my friends is staying. Her bathroom is outside. I lucked out with warm water, electricity, etc. However, I did not figure out the agua caliente this morning, as it was three degrees celcius.

There was much discussion of when and how I should be awoken. My host father mimed knocking on my door. Then he closed and did a dress rehearsal. We discussed the time. 6? 6 30, 7? He´ll knock. Ok? Ok.

At five a.m. I was laughing in my bed, when every rooster in Paraguay decided to have a crowing contest. They were as thick as crickets, with barely time to crow between the crows. Some were far off in the distance, some right under my window. I opened the curtains and saw them there in the dark, clucking around to destroy my sleep. A cow mooed.

I told my family I didn´t think I'd be needing an alarm clock, as there were plenty walking around outside.

If you need to send me anything, the address is
my name, PCT
Cuerpo de Paz, CHP
162 Chaco Boreal c/Mcal. Lopez
Asuncion 1580, Paraguay (South America)

Also I have to write that my opinions here are mine alone and not representative of the Peace Corps Organization.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

First day of staging

This morning, as I walked to get my Starbucks and Einsteins, I exchanged looks with all the other people who, along with myself, collectively made up the typical picture of a PC volunteer. We hadn't met yet, but it was obvious by the messenger bag slung over the shoulder, the adventurous shoes being wasted on the pavement, and the walk of a professional sprung free from the cublicle that we would all be seeing each other later at the hotel for staging. 

This morning they gave me the job of taking photos of everyone as they came in. This was not only a good way to meet everyone, but also gave me something to do. I felt like a border collie who just needed a job to do, lest I start gnawing the furniture simply as a way to release my stress. 

We learned all the first-day stuff. Safety and cultural stuff and PC facts. Did you know the Peace Corps annual budget is about the equivalent of a half-day in Iraq?

My staging leader volunteered in Paraguay and is loving and protective of her country. She helped build a library (a project I'd love to do).

We also saw a video on how to deal with unwanted attention. In the end, it showed a volunteer woman rounding the corner, holding a basket. Then behind her came a swarm of more than 100 African children, who were just there to see what she was up to. 

The wall is posted with inspirational quotes. My favorite today: "Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgement that something else is more important than fear." Spoken by Ambrose Redmoon, who I will have to Google later. Oh yeah, I won't have the internet. 

Monday, May 26, 2008

In the Jax airport

Hello everyone. I'm in the Jacksonville Airport. Everything I own is with me, in two packs weighing 33 pounds each, or contained in five plastic bins in an unused bathroom at my mother's house. I'm totally overpacked with too many gadgets and wires. My loose ends are still flying all over the place. I still haven't gathered the courage to get rid of my cell phone. 

Right now I'm realizing I won't be seeing St. Augustine again for a very long time. It's hard to keep track of the last times of each thing. 

Friday, May 23, 2008

By next week's episode of So You Think You Can Dance, I will be in Paraguay.