Saturday, May 30, 2009

It's still raining

Gosh, if I didn't know any better I'd think that I was in Seattle! Rain, rain and more rain. I would imagine that the drought that I mentioned before is officially over. It just doesn't feel like Paraguay without strong UVB ray content sun glaring down on me. 

Clothes that I washed two days ago are still not dry because the only place free of cold air and moisture is behind my refrigerator. The Peace Corps Volunteer tactic to dry clothes is to put them there. I doubt that I would have ever learned that cool trick unless I were a Peace Corps Volunteer. 

Last night I slept in wool socks and a wool vest. I later removed the socks because I got hot, but I had to sleep in near fetal position to stay warm through the night. I set my alarm for six-thirty with the hopes of going for a run, but the thought of running in wet, cold drizzle and having no heat or place to dry off adequately afterwards made me stay inside. 

This is my last day of Internet in my house, unfortunately. Thanks to Tessa for making my short lived accessible connection possible. 

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone.

Photos, top from bottom:
Mother's Day in the Police Academy: May 12

Sunset, around May 3

Rainbow after the rain, May 3

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Surfing the Internet by candlelight

This is the sixth consecutive day of clouds, rain, or the possibility of rain. Thanks to Tessa I have temporary wireless Internet :), albeit rather slow here. 

I recently made Paraguayan style tortillas with potato slices. We put ketchup on top and had some wine mixed with Simba soda. Simba is Guarana flavored, yummy! The tortillas are more or less like funnel cakes, but salty, not sweet. Sometimes when I see someone making tortillas or I'm making them with someone I'm reminded of making funnel cakes with the powdered sugar on top with my sister Amy as a kid. 

Tomorrow I will be getting up early and possibly catching the 6:40 am bus to go to a high school. I want to publicize a scholarship for students who have outstanding grades, community service and can demonstrate financial need. I will be going to my tokaya- a girl who is also named Karen. Tonight I went to another high school to publicize the scholarship. Even though the applications won't be available until November and won't be turned in until the beginning of December, it's important to alert the kids now to keep studying and to do more community service or to keep doing the service they are doing. 

Next week I'll be starting another English class; a lot of people have been asking me to. I feel like a jerk not accepting more requests for one-on-one tutoring, but I don't want to devote all my time to being an English teacher. The difficult part to swallow is that I know I'm better at teaching English than I am at doing anything else here. Since I have studied other foreign languages and I studied Spanish for so long I can explain it better than I think an average Joe off the street could. 

Tomorrow I complete ONE YEAR in Paraguay! It seems that I should stop, look around, scream, pray, yell, party, call all of the other volunteers in my G and go on a retreat all at once. I'm glad I have a year left, because that means I have more time to do work. On the other hand, in one year I'm sure that I will transform even more than I already have. It will interesting to go home in two months, because then the ways I have changed will be more evident to me than they are now. 

My sister G (aka, the other municipal services development group that is like our little sister) just arrived today, just like we did around a year ago. I will be meeting them next Thursday when I help with a training session in Guarambare about the organization of the municipality--what are the responsibilities of the mayor, secretary general and council members. 

My house is coming together more and more all the time: yesterday an unfinished wood table, 120 cm x 76 cm if I recall correctly. It's perfect for working; the other tables I had that my friend lent me are way too small; there is no room to spread out. 

I posted more photos on my Facebook tonight; you can see more there. XO XO

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

I have a fridge!

May 18, 2009

This whole month of May is Patria Month; Paraguay’s Independence Day was last Thursday and also on Friday. It’s two days because the revolution began late on May 14th and continued until early in the morning on the 15th. The 15th is also Mother’s Day. I ate lunch with Cristina and her family that day. We had asado (grilled ribs, but with lots more fat than in the States), pork, chinchulĂ­n (cow intestines—I tried it and it was not good; suprise!) rice salad, potato salad (not like you’re thinking of), sopa paraguaya (like cornbread but more oil, egg and butter/animal fat). After eating we drank regular Coca-Cola sweetened with sugar cane rather than high fructose corn syrup. I attest that the Coke here is much better than in the States. It is custom to drink after eating rather than before. I explain to some Paraguayans that in the States the first thing the server gives you in a restaurant is your drink. Here, on the contrary, you will rarely see people drinking soda pop before eating.

This past Saturday was cold!!! I took a bus from my site to two other towns in Asuncion for two birthday parties with my friend who is in the police academy. The first party was his friend from high school and the second was for a friend of his from the academy. I think that it probably hit the low 50s if my nerves registered the temperature correctly. I even used my gloves!

On Sunday we had our area volunteer meeting in a town close to Lake Ypacarai. We had guacamole, rotisserie chicken, vegetarian quesadillas, Bloody Marys, lasagna and I brought ice cream as well. I was super full afterwards! I met the new volunteers and learned where their sites are. We also discussed having excursions in different parts of the Central Department of Paraguay (Asuncion area) with youth from our sites. We are thinking about going to the Mythological Museum. I will have to do an entire blog entry on Paraguayan myths; there are more than you would think!

Today I got my fridge, finally! Now I won’t have to get ice from my next-door neighbor. It’s not until you don’t have a fridge that you realize how much use it is! Currently I have ham, cheese, eggs, orange soda, and three containers of milk. Doesn't sound like I eat very healthy, does it? I have bananas and oranges out on my table, don't worry.

Today I went to the Junta de Saneamiento (Sanitation Council, aka the organization the runs the water wells and provides water to the majority of people in my town) one block away from my house. I spoke with the lead administrator with whom I was very impressed: she was not into small talk, or evading questions; she was serious and straightforward. For one of the first times in awhile I spoke with someone who answered my questions directly and gave me her full attention. It’s something that is much easier to find in the States. Rather than talking about where I live, where I used to live, how long I’ve been here and whether or not I like terere, she was upfront. I know that I’ve been here a long time when I’m surprised by an outright answer to my question. People here beat around the bush too much rather than just saying what they want much of the time, or maybe it’s just me trying to be too nice. For instance, if I go to wash my clothes at my friend’s house, I feel that it’s necessary to shoot the breeze with them for longer than I ever would in the same situation in the States. I don’t want to look like I’m using them simply to do my laundry, even if that isn’t the case.

I just finished watching Stranger Than Fiction. I recommend it. The day after I watched it I was still analyzing it.

I am on the verge of getting a wireless Internet modem for my computer. It will come out to be about $40 a month. I have decided that it will be very worth it.

Some random facts about Paraguay that I noted a month ago at a state-wide youth conference:
66% of youth older than 15 and younger than 29 do not attend any formal educational institution.

82% of elderly people 65 years and older have no retirement plan.

1% of property owners own 77% of all land available.

40% of cultivators that have between one and five hectares own only 1% of the land in Paraguay.

Paraguayan emigration towards Europe, particularly Spain has grown fast in the past two years.

Paraguayans in Europe and the United States send 700,000,000 USD in remittances each year, making possible the survival of 10-15% of Paraguayan families.