Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Che ro'yhina! (I'm cold!)

2 junio 2009

The temperature at 6 pm was 12 degrees C and I was cold! That’s only about 51 degrees F! What a baby I am, ha ha. If it were 50 degrees after the winter in Ohio I would be breaking out the shorts and going for a run outside.

Today was sunny, but with the cold southern wind blowing enough to merit a warm fleece and layers. Fortunately Mario, the head of the environmental department, told me that two gentlemen from PAS-PY (Proyecto de Aguas Subterráneas – Paraguay- Paraguayan Subterranean Water Project) were coming to continue their study of the fresh water in my town this morning. One of the men is Paraguayan but his mother is German and the other man is a German geophysicist. The latter is retired and is in Paraguay for one week to continue the fresh water study that his other German colleagues started. He is here through a German technical assistance program (BGR) that works in cooperation with the Environmental Department of the Paraguayan government. He speaks Spanish, English and obviously German. It was so cool to hear him speaking to Norman in German, to me in English, and amongst the three of us Spanish. Then, when Mario was around, Norman and I threw in some Guarani, ha ha.

I went with him and the Paraguayan gentleman, Norman, to a rural area of my site to see how to measure basalt deposits. The German gentleman, we’ll call him Johann, showed me how his electromagnetic apparatus works to measure the basalt. If there is a lot of basalt present, then there is no fresh water present. Sometimes there was “noise” in the readings: if a bus passed us, or if we walked past a building with a zinc roof, it interfered with the reading. The apparatus connected with eight satellites, but the satellites did not know that it connected with them. It also had GPS (relation to equator and Greenwich). Every ten meters Johann stopped to take a reading. On the screen it made curves. The curve lowered when there was metal present with high magnetism and rose when there was less magnetic material. I hope that I remember that correctly. It was all clear to me at the time that Johann was explaining it to me.

As we walked down the road, he asked me if I was still studying to receive a degree. He asked me why I didn’t consider pursue further study regarding what we were doing in that moment: water or something of that nature. I told him that I figured that in order to pursue study in any environmental field would require more chemistry and biology than I have in background. He told me that that was not true necessarily and really encouraged me to pursue the field if I was interested in it. Johann has traveled to every country in South America except Venezuela and French Guyana doing water studies. He has also been to Thailand. Other colleagues of his even went to Namibia in Africa. He recommended that I speak to his colleague Jorge of PAS-PY regarding further education and job opportunities with water management and/or waste management. In addition, he said that the experience I’m having here is very unique and could be a possible thesis topic if I end up getting my masters. He asked me if I was getting my masters as though he couldn’t believe that I wasn’t thinking about getting it. And I realized that he is totally right: being here in Paraguay surrounded by a lower proportion of people who have higher education can make you lower your personal standards! I feel adequate with just with a bachelor’s degree. I can’t explain to you how fantastic it was for him to give me some advice and contacts about the field of work and study. I may be 25, but I too have always wanted a mentor to tell me what it’s like to work in certain fields and to encourage me to keep studying and working.

During the course of the measurement I saw one of the three quarries in my town. It was so quiet there, with only the wind and the far-off sound of water trickling into the quarry. In the distance we could see the wetland that led to the river that we hope to make a nature preserve. I saw monarch butterflies and yellow birds. The owner of the quarry told us that people leave their unwanted dogs there; so there were five different emaciated dogs running around. Not long ago the dogs killed a baby leopard that entered from the forest that borders the quarry. The stupid mutt dogs killed the beautiful, endangered leopard, those rascals! Grrrr. The owner showed us the photo on his cell phone. As we were exiting the quarry property, he gestured to the baby leopard’s hide hanging from the edge of his thin zinc roof. So Paraguayan ha ha. Johann mentioned that as he was measuring around the quarry he saw two pairs of new paw prints, so most likely there are more leopards! Yay. Out of all of the animals in this world my favorites are primates, manatees, turtles and leopards.


Problemas y plata no tenemos.” – A certain Mrs. González.

“We don’t have any problems or money.” LoL


  1. YES! Karen-jobs in the sciences rock (and not just geology)! You should totally get a higher degree in water or environmental management. And don't worry, if you knew everything about chem/bio there would be no reason to go back to school. And the only thing you lack is confidence to study something scientific-you are a smart chica. Plus I have heard foreign language students have a much greater chance at being sucessful chemistry students-no lie! I look forward to seeing what will happen with this.

    Your sister in science,

  2. Thanks, Christine! You make me feel so good :)!!! What do people who work in water and environmental management study? Do you have any friends that are studying to work in those fields? Would I have to take remedial bio and chem courses to be able to apply for such a masters program? It all just depends how badly I want it; that will determine how much work I will put in, right? He he.

    I can't believe that it's said that foreign language students have a greater chance of being successful chemistry students. How loco!

    Thanks, my sister in science :)