Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Cultural Stuff, Routine, Good times.

Ha. A dog just walked by my computer at the internet cafe. Oh Paraguay.

Here´s a mixin´ of some stuff I wrote this week. Please don´t worry anyone if you don´t read it all. My mom told me to just keep it comin`, so I know I write a lot. Also, I just like to write. So enjoy what you wish.

June 19 Cultural Oops!

There are a million mistakes I could be making right now. I could be insulting someone, telling someone I love them, or inviting someone to bed without having any idea I’m doing so. This is the conundrum of cultural adaptation.

It’s amazing when you consider my humiliating history of foot-in-mouth action, making an idiot of myself on regular occasions in my own culture, using my own language, being one of the group. Here I’m bound to make endless bungles.

Example: One volunteer needed some work done on her electricity. So she had her friend tell the electrician to come to her house. He did, and she invited him in, where, as she began showing him her outlets and wires that needed work, he promptly wrapped his arms around her and gave her a kiss. She felt assaulted. He felt embarrassed.

Now children, what went wrong here?

1. In Paraguay, two people of the opposite sex are never alone together, unless some business is about to go down.

2. Nobody lives alone, so when Mr. Electrician came in and the woman was alone, he took that as a sign of her intent. (Bow-chicka-bow-bow)

So, before you all get worried that every serviceman is going to try to accost me, tranquilo. We had a class yesterday on relationships in Paraguay. To avoid this kind of situation, this volunteer should have simply invited a child to come over to accompany.

At the class, many of us found out we had already given mixed signals. For instance, there’s a culture here of having “jakares”, or man friends who climb through the window at night, nobody-has-to-know style. So, to my friend Matt’s host dad, it must have looked pretty bad that time he caught me tapping on Matt’s window. (I was trying to give him my laptop without waking the family).

Matt also realized he had led on a poor 17-year-old who has been hard-core fancying him. When you send your “saludos” to someone, that’s a sign you want to date. A few days before our class, when his little brother asked if he wanted to go to said jailbait’s house, he said no, but send his saludos, to be polite. His little brother came back with a grin and said she also sends her saludos.

Also, if you ask for a meeting on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday or Sunday, those are date days. Fridays are for your girl on the side, so it might insult a respectable lady if you ask her out that day.

And don’t make the hand sign for the motorcycle rev here, because that means something pretty vulgar as well.

So much to remember! Here I am worried about getting my words right (half of which have double slang meanings) in two languages, and there are so many other ways I could be sending the wrong message.

It’s a hard balance as well with family life. I’m used to being a free lady all about town, and momma loves that. But there are all these cultural rules here about women and what’s respectable. I shouldn’t walk alone, shouldn’t drink, shouldn’t smile too much at men or dance too much or dance that way or wear this or say that.

Last night, we decided to stay in Guarambare, the main training community, with the other group of volunteers, to watch the futbol game and drink a little brewsky. Oh, it felt so good to just chill out. However, the whole time I was wondering, was it getting too late? Was my family going to be upset that I was missing dinner? Every time I do something else, it’s more like I’m not hanging out with them. I didn’t get home until 8:30, Que tarde! It’s very hard to balance everyone you’re trying to please, along with keeping yourself sane.

There’s a big culture of “chisme” or gossip here, so one faux paus and you’re the laughing stock of the town. It’s been humbling, for sure. I’m sure more mistakes will be made, miscommunications will happen. It’s all about learning to laugh at it, and remember not to be alone with any men!

June 22 What is gross?

I was thinking about this today as the woman at the despensa, the little cement building with shelves lining the walls inside, whipped out the meat grinder. She latched on the attachment, and I saw that the screen where the meat dispensed was chock full of red circles. I presumed these were stuck little discs of old meat. Were they discs or tubes? How deep did they go? And when were they from?

I waited as she chopped off a half kilo of beef for our empanadas. Maybe she would let the red leftovers drop into a separate bag to be discarded, then switch to a perfectly clean bag for ours.

But no, she dropped in chunks and out they came in Playdough sqiggles, and I stared wondering where the old meat ended and the new meat began. But you couldn’t tell.

In the U.S., no doubt there are gross things going on in the beginnings of our manufacturing cycles, things we try not to think about while spraying down our kitchens with bleach. Here you`re just much closer to it.

June 23 I’m an idiot.

This happened just a few days after I got here, as I was trying to chat with my 22-year-old sister. We’re sitting there, across the table. I’ve already said the weather’s nice, and I’m looking around for something else to comment on.

I notice her looking at my shirt. Yes, that. It’s beige with a miniature picture of Milton from Office Space, you know the movie about how much working in a cubicle sucks. Needing to buy new clothes for the Peace Corps, I purchased it as a celebration of getting out of cubicle life. Ha ha, I’m free, I’m out of here.

The shirt has across it Milton’s line: Excuse me, I believe you have my stapler. (Ha! There aren’t any staplers in the Paraguyan countryside! Get it?)

So, then I start explaining the shirt to my sister, chuckling.

“See, this movie, it’s about, when you work in the U.S., we have to sit in these boxes, and, see this little thing on the guy’s shirt? We have to wear name tags --” This is where I realize that I’m explaining to a third-world country woman how much it sucks to work in an air-conditioned room while sitting on my butt in a cushioned rolling chair, drinking coffee that costs more than people make in a day here, if they can get work. I hate myself.

“um, and see, men wear, uh, ties.”

I’m not sure how to back out of the conversation as I remember that teachers here will work years without pay at new schools, before their salaries are approved, just to hold their spot. Many children go to Argentina at the age of 12 to work making shoes. Some Paraguayan towns lose half their populations as people have to go abroad, leave their children for years on end, to earn money. Here people dream of working in factories.

It’s funny that I view Paraguay as my salvation, my getting out. Getting out of what? We get to choose these things. We get to choose to not sell out. To be not only a writer, but this kind of writer, not that. I realize now how free we really are, and I can’t remember exactly why we feel trapped. Here I see how silly our stories are that we tell ourselves (or that others tell us and we believe), that our lives are so terrible and we need to escape, that we need a better car, that we need to get that better house. It`s amazing to me that I can be happy here on $3 a day. And I hope that I can always remember when I return that I have everything I need to be happy, even if I have to sit in a cubicle.

June 24 - Typical Day in the life

It’s been almost a month, and my new routine has sunk in.

Last night I went to bed at 8. Since it gets dark now at about 5:30, that feels late. As usual I woke at about 6 to the roosters. I laid in bed relaxing in my sleeping bag-comforter roll-up until 6:30, until I got the knock on my door and the voice of my Paraguayan madre, “Paulita.”

I got up in the clothes I had planned to wear today (forgot to pack pjs), put on my leather shoes I wear everywhere. My madre asked me something that included the phrase “toma cocido,” so I said “si” and went out on the patio, where she was still stirring the steaming milky concoction, my mug on a plate with coquitas, like little crispy rolls, and bread. I drank and watched the roosters walking around, with their heads like the hands of people walking like an Egyptian.

By 6:40 I’d grabbed my bag and my bottle of water and headed next door. I clapped outside the door of my buddy Matteo. Clapping is what people do instead of ringing doorbells. He and I walked the red dirt road, avoiding lava flows of cow poop, to meet the others.

Usually we have school here, in a rented house, but some days we go to Guarambare to meet up with the Muny (or municipal) volunteers. My group is the RED group, six of us who’ll be working with co-ops.

We walked three cobblestoned kilometers to the bus stop at the routa, passing others with an “Adios,” which is what people in the campo say instead of hola. We passed ox carts and cows grazing, some so thin that their skin looks like black velvet vacuum-packed over sticks.

We got on the bus for 2300 Guaranis. The bus drivers make change while they drive. They all have huge stickers of fringe going across the window, but this morning’s had impressive pom'poms.

We have to stop off at an intersection called Tres Bocas to catch the next bus. Then it’s to the school.

Today at school the group was crowded around Julie’s injured hand. It’s the San Juan festival, celebrating the saint of fire. As part of the celebration, some people walk on fire, they burn a stuffed guy hanging from a tree, and the kids kick around a flaming ball. What could go wrong? Well, poor Julie was at the wrong place during the wrong flame-ball kicking, and she caught one right to the shoulder. She knocked it off with her hand, which is now slightly 3rd-degree burned.

They ring a bell when we have to go inside. Our schooling is handled by a company called CHP. Many of our teachers are Paraguyans or former volunteers who married Pyns. Our classes are increasingly in Spanish only.

They’re teaching us to be teachers, really. As they teach us, they’re having us pay attention to the manner in which they do so, so we can copy their skills to build the capacity of the people we serve, help them help themselves. Teach a man to fish and all that.

We get to get out a lot. Yesterday we went to a plant nursery. Today we traveled in partners, and this other girl and I went to the house of a local to learn how to cook with soy. Working in Spanish, we make soy empanadas and soy tortillas. And, after learning how soy is a healthier alternative to meat, we fried those suckers up. Other trainees came over to join us, and we ate the fried goodness along with salad, mandioca and soy-pineapple juice.

Afterward, we drew up our directions on big “charla” paper and presented our instructions to the class in Spanish.

In the afternoon we learned more about methods of talking with people. You could do a survey and map out (very informally) the town to meet all the neighbors. You could do a needs assessment or you could do a feasibility study on an idea.

This is all very developmenty talk that makes me wonder what I’m doing here at times. However, when you talk to the actual volunteers, they do so many cool creative projects that it gives me hope that I will find my place once I get to site. People have started internet cafes, libraries, photography projects, craft co-ops, all kinds of stuff.

During the break we usually throw the frisbee or sneak off the the despensa to buy cookies or cheese puffs and coke.

Afterward we take the bus back. At Tres Bocas there’s a stand to buy meat on a stick. My buddy Tim is an avid meat-lover, and having had to eat soy all day, he was dying for some asadito action today. We all stood waiting and gnawing on the sticks.

Today we started reminiscing about cereal. “Who ate Raisin Nut Bran?” “Oh hell Yeah!” “No, Honey Bunches of Oats is where it’s at.” “Oh yeah, with bananas.”

High fives were exchanged over the love of Lucky Charms.

Then it was on to ice cream, and my buddy Pooja was cruel enough to describe in detail her favorite mix at Cold Stone. Oh coffee ice cream, wait for me my love.

We crammed onto to a bus already packed. I was the last one to get one, and the driver started taking off before I had two feet in. The guy behind me just grabbed on and pulled himself in, and kind of pushed me in as well. We rode in the stairwell.

One time on the bus I was the last one packed in the back door, and I rode with the door open, standing on the bottom step, just hanging on with the road whizzing right by my feet.

The walk back from the bus stop is long, but it gives us all a chance to talk. Tonight we were planning our first night out in Asuncion. It’s 40000 Gs for the hotel room! Then I think, oh, that’s only $10. Then, oh, I make $3 a day.

The walk home is extra long because, it being dark, we walk Pooja to her house, then back to our place. I sat down to some more cocido and my Spanish books. At some point I’ll have to shower, or maybe tomorrow.

Saturday, June 21, 2008


The view from atop a 80 foot radio tower, which we climbed like super heroes.


The group on our first time getting our in the main town, to watch a futbol game. There were no other women in the bar. Here, when people go out, there are only one or two glasses passed around.

Across the street from our school.

(Note. I´m at a new internet cafe and the speed is so much better. I can actually upload photos, hooray! More to come!)

Some pictures

Teaching computers in Spanish!

Cow butts.

Sugar cane and palm trees

My Paraguayan dad with tomato fields

Random stuff.

Hi everyone. We´re in an internet cafe near the school. I saved a posting to a thumb drive, but in the tradition of none of my technology working here, I couldn´t open it.

But while I have a computer at hand, I wanted to tell you guys about some of the aspects of Paraguayan life in an easily scannable format:

I can't imagine I'm not getting fatter. It's all bread, sugar, meat, starch. Few vegetables are served, but the ones available are awesome, fresh and many organic. Maybe it's that I'm so much closer to the food source here, but I've been thinking a lot more about what I put in my body. I've never been closer to being a vegetarian. Meat just suddenly grosses me out. Maybe it´s because I have to gnaw it off the bone, avoiding large white giggly chunks.

There's lots of fruit, which few people seem interested in. So much of it just rots on the ground. I can't wait for avocado and mango season!

In my house in Aveiro, where I'm training, the shower has been both friend and foe. Here you buy a shower head that has a heater in it. The more water that comes out, the weaker the heater is. For the first few freezing days, I could not figure this thing out. I took some cold ones, with my breath steaming in the air.

Now I know to turn the knob until the bathroom light, a bulb hanging out of a hole in the wall, dims. The pressure is about that of a few toddlers peeing on your head. Then you get under and scrub fast. If the light bulb brightens, you'd better move, because here comes the freezing cold water. Then you turn it off and start again. It's tough when I have to wash my face. I open my eyes and it's like -- Was that how bright the lightbulb was? Did it undim??? So I was my face fast and hard, and have you ever gotten Dr. Bronner's Tea Tree Soap up your nose?

The shower is just an area in the floor, no curtain unless you live with the rich folks. So after you've shiveringly put on your clothes, and their clinging to your body because you didn't really have time to dry off with your tiny camping towel, you have to squeegie the floor. You take this long-handled squeegie and pull all the water into the shower, then dry it off with a towel.

My house has a flushing toilet in the bathroom, as well as a beday (SP?). Those seem to be popular here. The toilet paper is kind of stretchy and off-white with swiss cheese holes and no perforations. Also, the septic systems can't handle the paper, so you have to put it in a trash can right next to the toilet.

Things here are rough. Nails are yellow, short, rimmed by dirt. Shoes hang on to the soles, the fabric stripping away, until one day they break and the two parts are left in the field somewhere. Teeth are older, barely scraping by, or gone.

Although my internet and phone use is super-limited right now, there is hope! When I become a volunteer, I get to use a cell phone, and it's pretty cheap to call from the states if you have Skype, so look into that. (Also: Everyone here just says "the states," so excuse me if I sound too cool for the pool.) And someone else told me that their parents have a Verizon landline with 3000 minutes for $10 a month, and that it includes great rates to Paraguay. And there's some other site where I can get free text messages.

Kids fly kites, play futbol or volley ball. Families watch a lot of tv. (Check out the telenovela Marina) And I study, a lot. Fellow classmates of mine can attest that I was one of the laziest students to sneak through the public education system. But here, I`m at the table for hours almost every night, studying Spanish. And meanwhile, everyone around me speaks Guarani, so at times it feels worthless. But depending on my site, we´ll see how much I need of either.

We talk a lot with other volunteers who have trouble remembering english words. A group is about to leave in August, when we swear in. But to date I haven´t met anyone who wasn´t excited about the time they´ve spent here.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

My first PCV Visit

Hi all! I´m in the bus terminal in Asuncion, on my way back from a trip to visit a real life Peace Corps volunteer. Using my Spanish, I had to navigate my way across the country. 3km walk, hour and a half bus, six hour bus next to a woman who had no concept of the border controls of the arm rest. (Or is that just an American thing?) (But seriously, when I had my arm folded over my head to sleep, her elbow was digging into my rib cage, for miles on end.)

The bathroom in the bus had a swashing pool of brown liquid. Thank you waterproof boots. On rainy days here, you´ll often see people with plastic bags sticking out from between their shoes and socks, around their feet. It´s whatever works.

I got my first case of the BIG D, which I am at this point attributing to the room-temp fried chicken sandwich I ate on the bus. There were two other volunteers visiting the same girl, so we all had a little slumber party while I laid on the bed in the fetal position, laughing at their tales of bowel situations. I hear it´s a rare thing to get through two years of Paraguay without crapping your pants at least once.

The girl I visited was a beekeeper who lived in a perfect little Walden cabin across from a field of sugar cane. She had a few chairs outside and a hammock, a space heater and floor fan and fridge and a bed with a mosquito net, a table and armoir and tiny gas stove. Out back was a heated shower and a bathroom, or more correctly a teepee of coconut palm barks over a concrete hole with Bienvenido scraped into the cement.

I helped her teach some locals how to use their new computer. The first step was just to have them draw in Paint, to learn how to use the mouse. I helped, in Spanish! It was like, wow, look, this really works. To watch them use the mouse for the first time was so weird. There are so many things I´m discovering here that I hadn´t even considered as something I took for granted before.

On the bus ride back the kids next to me were puking in a plastic bag, then they just laid the bag on the floor.

Ok, I´m off to get some more refrigerated, packaged food. The yogurt here is yummy, and they drink it instead of eating it with a spoon.

Below check out another post I wrote at my site. I was having kind of a tough day, and I´m more able to laugh about it now. We are the sideshow freaks here, especially with all our gadgets.

June 9 - Paraguayan learning environment

It’s difficult to concentrate. In school, the children poke their heads around the window sills, lean their shoulders in the doorframes, watch.
(As I sit down to write this, in my room on my laptop, my Paraguayan padre is standing over me.)
(He leaves, in comes the next door neighbor kids to ask me if I danced with a futbolista last night. Yep, sure did.)
My alone time...
(Now my little sister’s in here.)
My alone time is when I wake up at about 5 or 6 a.m.
(Here’s my other little sister, in my room and leaning over to see the screen. Looking as I type. Have you ever had someone just watch you, like while you’re eating?)
In the mornings I read, listen to a song or two on my iPod, write.
The trainee next door and I meet up to be at school by 7:45. The school is really just a rented house.
(My little sister has brought in a chair. She is sitting in front of me, looking and drinking cocido.)
I have language class in the morning.
(My little sister has called in my other little sister, then hid behind the door.)
(The littler comes in, picks up the chair and moves it closer to me.)
We have a few breaks at school, when we play frisbee in the yard, eat popcorn with hot sauce or whatever food someone has brought. My hands often smell like tangerines when I rest my chin on them in class.

Today, the football team stopped by to see if they could slaughter a pig in the yard, to celebrate their win yesterday. The woman who owns the house where we study is one of their supporters, so it’s where they do their celebrating of victories, wine drinking, pig killing.
While we tried to write objectives and challenges in supporting small business, motorcycles of futbol players rolled up our driveway, children ran in our gate to watch, dogs smelled blood.
We went outside to see, our teacher sitting there with our papers, resigned.
A black band ran from a tree, around the pig’s stomach, then knotted on one of its legs. Someone held the hose over it, cleaning it off, and it thrashed to the point that the rope would let it.
The kids played on the swingset. Some women cleaned mandioca.
The pig squealed a bit. It rooted a brown hole.
We gathered ourselves back in class.
We discussed economic challenges of business people working on credit.
(Leaning over the screen again. Standing. Scooting closer. Bending down, hands pinched between her knees. “You’re not drinking your coffee.” says my sister, in spanish.)
We tried to give our presentations while right next to our heads, through the window, the pig’s nose became brown, building its new home in the dirt.
(The little one is back. “Paulita. Paulita. She’s picked up my flashlight. She’s talking in her little spanish.)
So, where was I? (As beams of light flash around my room) Ok, yes, the other group was presenting their idea to have a one-chair hairdresser examine her pricing schedule as it was time when on presenter looked out the window.
“They’re gonna kill it!”
They ran outside.
(Strange neighborhood child, right on spot, to my right, looking at my screen. Now four children in my room.)
I stayed in the class with the vegetarians. When I eat pork, I don’t picture a pig having its throat slit, and I’d like to continue that pattern. We had some nearly-finished volunteers visiting, and I tried to ask one about her work with a women’s artistry group.
“Is there a lot of {“SQQQUUUEEEEAAALLLL”} {“AAAHH! EEEEW!”} craft culture in Paraguay?”
She’s covering her ears but answers. “Yeah, at first {“SQQQQQEEEAAAAL!”} you don’t think there is but then {“OH DAMN!”} you find it in small pockets.”
They’re bleeding the pig. It’s slow.
But then my friends return, shaking their heads and if coming out of the door of a theater where an the credit are rolling on an especially gruesome movie.
And right back up to the board they went and continued their discussion of the marketing tools available to small Paraguayan businesses.
Through the open door, we could two men carrying a huge silver bowl of meat, being followed by a dog with its nose to the rim.
Oh, and I started writing this to tell you about how the school is here, about how great it is, really, but maybe another time. Sometimes in Paraguay, you get distracted.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

photo is here...

Ok, low tech version. Here´s the site of my photo:


Wow. I can´t believe my blog worked. It´s happened several times that we´ve paid thousands of Guaranis (ok, a few dollars) for a half hour of frustration on the internet and nothing working.

Today has been a great day so far. We learned about gardening, which involved hacking down some huge bamboo shoots and spliting them with machetes to make a fence. What´s the most important thing when working with a machete? Knowing where your other hand is.

I´m enjoying the new life. I like the little things, such as that the handles on the sink say C and F instead of H and C. Those little things that it never occured to you would be different.

I study a lot, but for once I´m motivated so it´s not so bad. I want to know what everyone is saying for the love! I definitely have to get on it, they do speak two languages here. Sometimes when I use a new word my Paraguayan dad laughs and laughs and repeats it, tells other family members. I laugh with them. Then sometimes people will say the same word to me in the street. I wonder if I´m using it correctly.

Yesterday we visited a housing co op and climbed their radio tower. Scary but fun. Paraguay was beautiful from up there.

I finally was able to upload a photo. Here goes:

The long lost post of June 3

In the morning, I wake up inside my sleeping bag if it is cold (it was tres grados just the other day). The roosters are outside my window, and my madre and sisters shuffle on the other side of my door that closes with a sliding lock. There's the sound of a spoon sliding around a pot as they warm cocido, a milky concoction, or cafe con leche.

Sometimes I walk out of my room and my padre just starts talkin'. Even if you're a morning person, Guarani is to your ears like the bright sun is to your eyes.

mba'eichapa is how are you

mooguapa nde is where are you from.

When I actually memorize this, I can say: Che cherera Paulita. Che aspirante Cuerpo de Pazpegua. Che Estado Unidogua.

I am Paulette. I am a Peace Corps trainee. I am from the United States.

I didn't plan on becoming Paulita, but I was told that if I try Paulette, I'm going to become Paula, which brings up a lifetime of awkward memories of people getting my name wrong. So we kind of invented Paulita in the van on the way to meet my family. My friend Matt, who is right next door with my uncle and his impossibly adorable sons, is now Matteo.

When there is food ready, I hear "Paulita!" I poke my head out and see someone placing something on a table on our patio, where we eat and study. I eat first, usually looking down at a bowl of rice in liquid with chunks of meat. There might be small, minty pieces of bread with hard crust, or rolls or pieces of mandioca, the local potato-like substance. Paraguayans don't drink with their meals, but an arm with usually reach from behind me to place a glass of water by my plate. They have been educated on the odd habits of Americans.

Paraguayans have their own special drink, which is closer to their heart than the frappachino is to mine. When it's warm it's called mate (ma-tay), and when it's cold it's terere (te with a machine gun blast of r's). It's served in a guamba, which is like the mug in the U.S. They look like mini barrels, and they can be decorated with your name, the logo of your favorite team, or some cutesy message. Next door, which teaching the children some English and watching Jurrasic Park 3 en espanol, Matteo and I drank from a promotional guamba for the local hospital, with it's logo and phone numbers. Everywhere you go you see people carrying these with a thermos of hot water under their arm.

They grind local plants to put in the cup, then they pour water over it and drink it through a straw with a filter. Everyone drinks one glass full, and they passes it. And yes, my germaphobic comrades, we all drink from the same straw.

I got the chance to play some games Sunday. After my siesta , my host sister Yessica, 12, took me over to where my other host sister, Mariela, 22, was playing loteria, kind of like bingo. We sat outside, a group of women surrounded by toddlers and kids leaning on their bikes. The hand-written cards lay on the table, and someone shakes a hollow coconut and drops out a small wood cylinder with a number on it. Then you place a piece of dried corn on that number, and hope to get a row so you can win the pile of Guaranis in the middle. Chickens clucked underneath us, hoping we'd drop our markers.

This was good practice for me, seeing that I'm so weak on my numbers. I hit my stride until it was my turn to call numbers from the coconut. When I called 99, the ladies nearly fell over laughing. (Anything worth laughing at in Paraguay is worth laughing at until you fall over, especially the Americans.) The card only go up to 90, and I was holding the 66.

Afterward we played volleyball, and thank God I took a class in college, or I would have made a total idiot of myself. My sisters held my jacket for me while I played. When I looked over later, the little one was wearing my sunglasses, and the older one was holding up the money I had in my pocket and smiling. (Of course, she put it back) Privacy is as foreign as I am here.

At times, I forget that I have not communicated one thing to my Paraguayan family in English. All we know of each other is through our actions, our foreigners sign language, and my Spanish. I have only a few verbs I am comfortable with, and I pull them out like blades in my Leatherman. I either need something, want something, know something, wish something, or have to do something. When we can't understand each other, we laugh, and I say "con tiempo" or "poco a poco". With time. Little by little.

The other night I busted out my laptop and my sister asked me to teach it to her. We sat on my bed, with Yessica on one side and Mariela on the other, with my padre peeking in ever so often. After showing her a few things, I decided I should assess how much she's seen computers.

Nunca. Never.

Just being there, bringing here her first encounter with a computer. Seeing that she wanted to learn this so much. For me, I realized it was the feeling that I had come for.

We played with the effects of Mac's photobook, squishing our faces in it lens and laughing, laughing so hard. Rolling on the bed as each photo came out, all of us together. Then we quieted, and there was the silence of remembering that we don't speak the same language.

The next day, while I was burning my family a cd of random American music, Yessica came in with the little three-year-old. She sat next to her and held her fingers to poke out her name: Sophia. Later some family friends came over to with their little boys. They walked in my room, with Sophia leading the way. She pointed at my bed, where my macbook sat, and told them: "computadora."


Other odds and ends: I still haven't quite figured out the phone situation and am at this moment dying to talk to my mother, other family and a few friends with whom I can discuss details that are too lurid to be posted on the giant permanent record that is the internet. Speaking of, a word about this blog. Though I am a journalist in my usual life, this blog isn't exactly journalism. I have a duty to respect the culture of Paraguayans and the reputation of the Peace Corps. So please know that some information is slightly censored, so as not to cause some sort of international incident.

And as a supplement to the last entry, the one that included my address, I'd like to add that I am running dangerous low on Smarties candies, and that I enjoy Skittles as much as the next person.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Ahh' hi!

Hi guys. I´m on my lunch break on my only day this week to use the internet. I wrote out a whole blog entry then forgot my jump drive. The internet here is amazingly slow. Like US 1991 slow.

Everything´s good. I think I might have a chance to post some more on Saturday. I will have a chance to use a phone that day as well, midday. We´ll see how difficult it is.

I can´t check my emails right now. Feeling a bit rough about that. But, I´ll post more soon. I have to get back and eat. Sorry. Love you guys and thinking of everyone. I´m really happy here and all is well.