Sorry it has taken me so long to update you all in my adventures. Training ended the 13th of August and we had our swearing in on the 14th of August at the embassy in Asuncion.
The date that we need to be in our sites was the 17th so we had four days of free time in Asuncion. The night of the 14th we; Mary, Carrie, Mike, Brad, and Carlos, went to a Mexican restaurant for dinner, that was FANTASTIC. We basically ate the weight of our bodies, a bit uncomfortable but totally worth it. After that we met up with a bunch of other volunteers at an art gallery/ bar. After that we went dancing, and it was basically the Peace Corps show. No one else was on the dance floor but Peace Corps volunteers. There were a lot of other volunteers in town because a group swore out the day we swore in and also there was an Ahendu concert the next night. The 15th we walked around Asuncion, shopped, drank coffee, ate good food, and hung out in the hotel, and that night went to the Ahendu concert were I met a lot of other volunteers. On the 16th a Sunday, Mary and I went back to Paso de Oro for a despidido. Mary and I were in charge of buying the asado. So when we were on our way to Paso de Oro we stopped at the Super 6 a large grocery store. We knew what kind of meat, but not how much, so we told the butcher we needed asado for 8 people. He gave us 76 mil worth of meat, probably 10 kilos. And then we bought chorizo also, so we spent 100 mil on meat.
David met us at the despidido at Mary’s house, and came back with us to Asuncion for 2 days. It was really sad saying goodbye to my family, Mary’s family and even more difficult saying goodbye to David. But exciting at the same time, because I am finally starting what I came here to do.
Day 1: I got a ride from the director of my sector because she was coming up to Concepcion anyways. So I didn’t have to ride on a bus for 7 hrs, instead in a chuchi car for 5 hrs. I was able to bring my bike with me also, which is really exciting, because most of the community lives about 3 km away from where I am staying for the first month. My host family was in the process of building me a room when I arrived. I told them I needed a lock and door, which they didn’t have in the house so they built me my own room, super awesome. (Although the lock still hasn’t been put on, I have my own bed/space) The first night, well morning at about 5 am I heard the rats rummaging around the house, so I will be sleeping with my ear plugs from now on!
Day 2: I studied some Guarani in the morning, and then rode my bike out to Calle 11 where I played soccer with some kids and ate lunch with Don Ramon and his family. He is very proud of his milk, and every time I’ve gone there I drink milk. So I had some milk, and bananas. Then they insisted that I take a nap. I am still not that comfortable with everyone, so it was still a little weird to take a nap in their bed, so I insisted I was ok to ride my bike, that I wouldn’t die, and left. About 5 minutes after I returned to my house, the director stopped by to chat, and see how things were going, because she was passing by on her way back to Asuncion. Later that afternoon I busted out the jump ropes to play with my host sisters. Its crazy, every girl in the states knows how to jump rope. But it’s totally foreign to my host sisters. It is hilarious watching them try, and now that one of them has learned we’ve made it our nightly exercise and also have competitions to see who can jump the most times. That night there was a meeting with the group of jovenes to talk about fundraising activities.
Day 3: Went to Horqueta with Serafin, my host dad and also president of the coop, to meet up with George, the ex mayor who is also an agricultural engineer, and go to Concepcion with him. He drove us in his car, and we went to the local government office, where we met with the governor of Concepcion. The coop had made a pedido, request, for a motor for a machine that helps with the local black bean they grow here, 5 more computers, and something else. Serafin, and George told me that me being there made a political statement, even though I am not political its good to have a rubia around, they told me. The meeting went really well, and the governor seemed impressed with everything, and said he is going to come out and visit the coop this next week. George and I talked on the drive back, and he is going to work with the coop as well. He is very excited to help, and thinks that the coop has a lot of potential and has many ideas. Along with some other people, he told me that the coop is lacking the capacity of administration. There really isn’t anyone in the coop with a business background therefore they don’t know how to go to the next step of business. They all know how to produce their products with a high quality but lack the experience with exporting, and working in a business setting. Which is perfect for me, because I can help, but where do I begin, there is sooo much to be done. And its not my job to come in a change things, I need to find the people who have the passion to learn business techniques and teach them. It’s hard to explain because, there is so much going on right now at the coop it is hard for me to understand as well.
Day 4: Went to the school in the morning to watch my host sister, Sandra, dance in the style of traditional Paraguaya. The 21st of August is Dia de Folklore, so the school had a little show, to expo different things Paraguayan.
Day 5 (sat): The group of jovenes met early in the morning to clean the outside area of the coop. The jovenes have a workshop there as well for grinding up corn to make flour, and also an area to make wooden crates for the pina, and bananas. So we mowed the lawn, picked up trash, and drank terere. Shortly after I had the pleasure of watching my host family castrate their pig. That afternoon I rode my bike out to Calle 11 to hang out with the girls who work at the almacen out there. When I returned home, Serafin insisted that we drink wine, because it had been a productive day. The group of jovenes were over having another meeting, so they drank too. He bought some kind of wine with a girl in a thong on the plastic bottle, and was 18% alcohol. Tasted like gasoline. After 5 drinks I felt buzzed, pretty sure it might have been mixed with cana.
Day 6 (sun): At 9am the coop had a meeting with a larger coop called CREDICOOP, they are a larger coop that gives loans to smaller coops, who are their members. CREDICOOP has about 50 members. After about 3 hrs of showing the people around the chacras, and talking CREDICOOP decided to give my coop a G 56 million loan. I think that is about $10,000. A lot of responsibility the coop has now. Interestingly enough the people from CREDICOOP talked to me about the coop and how there were a lot of opportunities. They told me that the one thing they defiantly need is a place to sell the products that the members either produce or make. The coop knows this, and wants this as well. So I am excited to work with them in actualizing their, sueno. Danielle the volunteer who lives near by, came over after and we chated for a bit, ate lunch and then she left. Sandra and I then walked to Calle 11 to play some soccer. We played for about an hour, and it kicked my ass. Again when I came home Serafin said we need to drink wine and celebrate the successful day. But his wife wasn’t going to have any of that. She told me we needed to finish our mate first then I could go drink wine with him. But that didn’t happen I was exhausted by the time we were done drinking mate, I went to bed.
So I really havn’t had a bunch of free time so far, the thing that they told me I would have plenty of in my first 6 months. Monday (today) is the first day I had time to take my computer out and write this blog. I have been showering about every 3rd day. It’s been rainy and not too hot, therefore I haven’t had the drive to shower, cause I haven’t smelt too bad. It’s quite the task to shower. First I start a fire (if I can), then I boil some water, then I go outside and bucket bath. I actually like bucket bathing because it uses less water. The other day while showering I heard all these kids laughing, and I looked over the wall, yes I am a little taller then the shower walls so I can see what is going on outside if I stand up straight, I try and duck though so people don’t see me. Anyways they were laughing because two cows had gotten loose and Serafin was chasing them around the yard, and basically around the shower. Only in Paraguay.
Also I havn’t mentioned too much about the food, well that’s because I’ve eaten the same thing for practically every meal. I have been eating tortilla, which is fried pancake batter sometimes with cheese or green onion, mandioca, and lettuce. I am sooo tired of eating tortillas. Oh but the other night they mixed it up and made the tortillas with mandioca flour instead of regular flour. Tasted a bit different, and I appreciated the mix. I would cook for myself, but there are only two “burners” places to put pots or pans over the fire. So if I were to cook at the same time, my stuff would be in the way. Therefore I can wait another 3 months till I start cooking on my own.
I’ve found the place where I am going to live for the 2nd month. It’s a house on the ruta as well, so there is running water, and there is a single room, with a lock and a door. The family is very nice, one of the daughters is my age, she goes to school in Horqueta, so she is only home on the weekends, and another one of the daughters is best friends with my host sister now. The mom already told me, that we’ll be speaking nothing but Guarani when I move in. I have been trying to practice every morning, I need to make flash cards and try a little harder.
My phone number is (595) is the country code 0982 528 298. If you’d like to call that would be cool! I think my mom said it was something like 20 cents a minute to call from Skype. Miss you all so much, and I will try to update more often now. I have to go to Horqueta to use internet, until I buy the chip that is in a pen drive, that will allow me to have wireless. I think I’ll wait till I have my own place to buy this pen drive though.
I ate 5 pomellos yesterday and they were fantastic! addicted