Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Labor Blossoms

27 August: Labor Blossoms
I fully acknowledge the cheesiness of this, but on my radio show, we’re discussing the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, one habit a week. I changed “Highly Effective People” to “People with Success.” I translate the highlights of every chapter, putting it into words they might actually use here. Some people here think Americans are smarter. But no, we just read books like these. If it only gets people to think about the fact that there’s education available on the topic, that there’s some kind of way out, that there's more to be done than just complain about circumstances, that’s good enough for me.

We’re on week three: Put First Things First. Mostly it’s about doing those things that are overall important, but not urgent, so you don’t do them. Maintaining your lawnmower, for instance. Flossing. Exercise. Study your flash cards. These kinds of things.

The chapter sites a study that tried to find the one thing that all successful people -- Olympic athlete successful -- have in common. It’s this. They do the menial little tasks that no one likes to do. Because they have their higher goal in mind.

So maybe that’s why today was such a good day. Besides the fact that all the orange trees are blossoming and it smells like a Yankee Candle along my walk to work, my tedious little tasks are blooming too. My flash cards have turned into little Guarani conversations. My hours of sitting there feeling like an outsider have bloomed into little friendships. My computer students are getting it, and proud of themselves, and quite competitive about the typing game I downloaded. I feel like a doin’-ok volunteer.

30 August: Fun Photo Time.

It hailed like crazy. From the way it sounded, I would have thought it was a drive-by if I wasn’t in Yataity, Paraguay.

People collected the hailies and we used them later for ice in our terere. They’re a juyo for pain. Se dice (So they say).

I was attacked by this thing! It’s dark in the corner right by my door at night. I went to open it and this thing flew in my face. I thought it was a bat. I screamed, but I think my neighbors are by now so used to my bug scream that no one was alarmed.

I’d guess this thing is about six inches long. So they say, if it lands on you and you don’t notice (not that I think that’s possible) it will lay it’s eggs in your skin. Then a big bump will form and you’ll pop it and a worm will crawl out. That is so disgusting that I just had to share it with you.

This is the cathedral in Villarrica that is about a gazillion years old. Heta ite (a lot a lot) guesses Oscar. Or about 200.

Inside the cathedral.

At a chuchi party. When the meat was ready, they brought it out on this large sticks and stuck them upright in the middle of every table. So there were all these people in suits and curls hacking away at a stick of meat.

Not that hungry? How about just half a pig’s head?

This is the road side marker for five guys who died in an accident a few years ago from Yataity. You see these a lot along the routas.

(putting ‘i on the end of things is the way to say a tiny something and I just love using it.)
Sunday we went to Salto Pa’i. Me, Oscar, Julio and his girlfriend Claudia. We brought a bunch of meat (naturally) and had an asado and swam. Good times.

Salto Pa’i is up in Independencia, where I went to help build that school. It’s actually a German Colony, so you go up in the hills and all of a sudden start to see blond people and signs in German. I even saw a VW and then, randomly, a castle.

I miss the beauty of water.

A beautiful day it was.

31 August: Progress Report
On the day I got my site assignment, learning that I would work at a crafty co-op that needed a web site, I predicted my future. After a year in site we would have an informational site up. After two, an on-line story rivaling that of The Gap.

Let me tell you why, just after that year mark, we have yet to even buy the web address.
I get things done through Auxi, mostly, the secretary of the board of the co-op. Auxi works there in the mornings, but also tutors twins while she’s there and collects payments for the electric company and makes ao poí to sell. I peek in at times to see if she’s free, remind her of that thing I needed help with like someone reminding someone else of that five bucks they loaned. Not today, not that I blame her.

She and I were going to buy this web address together. There was a time, months, that it took me to figure out how you could buy the .py addresses. And then how much it cost. I found out through a call that there are .coop.py sites, which I thought would be good marketing, and they also told me that those are free for the first six months for co-ops. I took the good news to the board with the suggestion that we go with www.aopoi.coop.py. They approved.

Probably about another month goes by until I can get me and Auxi in front of a working computer with working internet. We fill out the form. We wait.


I call and they said cooperatives need an authorization from INCOOP, the head Co-op of the co-ops. So I bug Auxi again to make a nota for me to take there on my next trip to the capital.
I get lost on the way but survive long enough to turn in the note. We wait.

Three months pass.

I call. They take down our co-op’s name and promise to look. A week and a half later I happened to be there again, turning in papers for the co-op, when I decide to ask about the authorization. I find the office and ask the man behind the desk, who is visually annoyed by my presence. He asks, “What’s the name again?” and then looks through two foot-high stacks, finds ours, stamps it, writes the date and signs and hands it to me. Victory is mine.

Auxi and I sit down again to fill out the five-step on-line form requesting the site address. We fax in the authorization. We wait. In a bout of desperation, I make our blogspot page. We wait more.


I call again. Oh, explains the man, you can’t put the product name in the web address of a .coop.py. In fact, you’re not allowed to put stores up with those addresses. They’re solely for the administration of a cooperative.

Oh, thank you. I said. I did not demand that they explained why that hadn’t been explained the last time, when we clearly put on the form that we wanted to put up an on-line store, but they just asked for the authorization.
I just moved on.

This is a long and boring story and I’m sorry you had to read it. But I want you to know what it’s like. Multiply that by five hundred and know that I wrote this story on receipts and scrap paper while waiting an hour for a bus, which never came.


When I was at Salto Pa’i, I stuck my foot in the running water. The water had not planned on my foot being there. It shattered apart, freaked out, but came back together again as fast as possible, flowed around and got to where it was going. I sat there and thought about living like water.

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