Sunday, July 13, 2008

A long day at the karate tourney

The day began with some old-fashioned gritty clothes washing. I scrubbed my socks so hard today that I got blisters on my hands in two places. Hopefully come August I will find someone to either wash most of my clothes or a family I´m close to that has a washing machine. My host mom Ismelda usually takes my pants and shirts to someone in town to wash or she washes them herself in the washing machine in the kitchen. Either way, my clothes are always stiff when they dry and sometimes hardly smell clean at all. I think I already talked about this...and about how much I miss fabric softener...

I had written this whole entry out on my laptop before coming here, only to find that it didn´t save on my flash drive somehow.

After washing my clothes and hanging them out in the backyard to dry, I went to my sister Addie´s karate tournament at 10:15 am. At the ripe hour of 11:30, the show finally got on the road with another hour of Paraguayan dancing and karate masters showing their skills: breaking boards, doing things one shouldn´t try at home, etc. At about 12, the tournament FINALLY started, and I didn´t get to leave until 5:30 pm. In all of that time I had to think, I realized 2 things:

1) Paraguayans have an astounding patience level for doing what seems to be absolutely nothing. No one looked restless like I was feeling. I suppose it´s because many of the spectators were family members of the participants, that were between the ages of 5 and 18. My sister got a medal for her participation in the first event called " formula" which lasts about 3 min. The kids kick, move their hands and make hissing and "HI-YAH" sounds in front of three judges who give them a score on a scale of 1-10. In reality it´s 1-7 because hardly anyone gets above a 7. The second event, at about 5 pm, was fighting with one other participant. They wear headgear and footgear for protection. My sister got third place in that, but would have gotten second if the other girl had played fair and not kicked her the second they stopped shaking hands.

2) My host family is not all that curious about me or about the "how" or "why" of anything. The "what" interests them more because that is how they have been conditioned, according to Fernando, who is going to place all of us PC trainees at the end of this month in some place in Paraguay. This drives me crazy because I´m a curious person, and they either don´t understand me when I ask why something happens/ed or just get irked with me for asking so many questions. It´s soooo annoying because a lot of the things they do seem to be illogical. For example: why does my host mom feel the need to say the same phrase three times? If I don´t take my towel off of the line in the yard the SECOND she says to, she keeps repeating it until I say, "OK OK OK OK" or I take it off right then. I just hope that my next host mom isn´t as much of a flibbertigibbet as she is. The funniest thing she´s done lately is saying, "Che Ohiogua" which means, "I´m from Ohio"; always followed by a chuckle. Next thing I´ll have to teach her is O-H-I-O, ha ha.


My friend Liam is talking on Skype on his laptop here in the ciber...which means there is WIRELESS here!! Why did I not know this before?!


I will update my blog with the logical and well-written version of what I wrote above sometime next week. I am getting bone tired and, so staying on track and mentioning the details is getting more difficult.

This week I am going to Santa Rosa in southern Paraguay for our long field practice. I´ll be playing some basketball with the Pgyans and facilitating some activities with them. Three others will be accompanying me as well as one of our language teachers from CHP. Our PC host is a Peace corps volunteer from Chicago. We won´t be staying at his place, even though his house is a former hotel. Instead, we´ll all be staying with host families--that´s right, ANOTHER host family! We are all getting so used to awkward situations that a situation isn´t normal unless we are unclear of what´s going on and occasionally miscontrue others or we make Guarani or Spanish faux paus (sp?).

Buenas noches from this Paraguayan, 80 degree, winter night.

PS - I tried to upload photos but after 20 minutes they weren´t showing up in the uploader. Game over for today. Come back later!

PPS- Thanks for your comments!

PPSS- I will try to send mail, but it is pretty expensive! Email or comments here are definitely cheaper.


  1. Girl-that sucks! I do hope that you will find a good family for your "long" stay! I miss you and am happy that you will be sworn in earlier--cuz hopefully that means I can actually call you sooner, too!!! Lots of Love, Lindsay

  2. Hey Karen,
    I really like hearing about your daily events.
    That would really annoy me too about starting events late, geez!
    Is Paraguain (sp?) spanish much diferent than other types of spanish you've studied?
    I wouldn't feel too bad about not sending us too much mail. We know you're busy and I think it's great that you're doing this blog!
    Have a good week!

  3. geezle...maybe i should just send you fabric softener. man, that's an adjustment. hopefully, the new host family doesn't prove to be too awkward. still missing you tons! hope all is well dear friend! i'm looking at plane tickets, just to see how much they are costing! i'll keep you posted!
    much love,

  4. Hey Karen,

    I hope your trip to the city where you potentially will be staying goes good and you find it more comforting to be at. It will be nice once you can move on and experience a different part of Paraguay. Hope you have a great week!!

    Love, Erin

  5. Hey Karen,

    I'm finally catching up on your blog. I'm sorry to hear that you've been having some rough times but if anyone can make it through smiling, it's you. You're one of the strongest people I know. I miss you tons.


  6. Hey Karen,
    I went home for a couple of days. The Western Reserve Museum in Cleveland had a traveling exhibit called "Vatican Splenders", which had stuff from the Vatican. My Mom and I went to it and it was really cool!
    While I went home, I got the postcard you sent! Thanks so much!
    Thanks for keeping this blog, it's so cool to hear what you're up to!

  7. Karen!!!

    i was just thinking of you and i hope you are doing well in Paraguay! i miss you!!!!

    my life has been a roller coaster in both a good and bad way. i always feel like i am playing catch up trying to balance a social life, work, and summer classes. one day the madness will end.

    you are always in my thoughts and thinking of what you are doing in Paraguay - keeps me motivated and keeps me positive that anything is possible if you put your mind to it! you are my inspiration!!!


  8. I just started reading your blog today!! I'm so behind with life these days, but I'm trying to catch up and stay current with friends....
    i hope your next host family is warmer to you, you are awesome!!!!