Sunday, December 19, 2010

more pics from the pilgrimage

The beautiful sun set.
Cunchi and Jake

Are we there yet??

Trying to take our minds off the pain.

Myrtha fell and went boom. Getting some attention from the doctors.

All the people the in the morning.

Hanging out at camp.

Cunchi and Jake again

Pilgrimage to Itape

The Virgin of Itape

Religious pilgrimages are a big deal here in Paraguay. The biggest one is for the Virgin of Caacupe which is December 8th. People from all over the country arrive in Caacupe by walking, riding a bike or taking a bus. People from really far will take a bus to a certain point, then will walk about 7 km. The second biggest pilgrimage is to the Virgin of Itape. Well Itape happens to be semi close to San Salvador. I remember last year I had just arrived in San Salvador at this time and had no desire to go with the people to visit the Virgin. Well this year I decided to join the people and walk 32 km to Itape.

We left at 5:30 pm, the hottest time of the day, and walked directly into the sun for 2 hours. Well walking wouldn't be the correct word, running is a better description of the pace we were going. About 2 km into the journey I started to hear; my feet hurt, its so hot, i need water, etc. At one point very early into the walk one woman, Mirta, was calling all the people she knew to come and pick her up. The local doctor passed by and she asked for a ride and he said he wasn't going there. Well about 2 hrs into the walk we passed by the town where there is another volunteer and picked him and his buddies up. Oh I forgot to mention, I was walking with about 6 women who are very "chuchi" or prissy.

Cynthia, Cunchi, Noelia, Maria and Me

We picked Jake up and kept on going. By this time we were walking in the shade, the sun was going down and it was finally cooling off. My face gets very red when i work out but everyone was convinced that I was sun burnt. I was soo hot, soaking wet dripping with sweat, but my spirits were still high. I had to put my game face on because the only thing I was hearing was the complaining of the women. walking along the long dirt road

It finally got dark and the mosquitoes came out. We passed by a place to fill up our waters and one woman filled her bottle up with beer. We asked the owner how far to Itape and she said 5 km. We were close! Walking, Running, Walking, Running...5 km later, we still hadn't gotten there. We could see a town off in the distance that was at least 5 km more. By this time the people had slowed down a little but not much, and we still hadn't taken a break. My whole entire body was stiff. I could hardly bend my knees and couldn't feel my feet. But I didn't express my pain to anyone wanted to keep moving. Oh yeah since I've been in Paraguay I really haven't worked out or done much exercise.

We were 1 km away and the women wanted to sit and take a break. I said "don't sit down, keep moving we are so close." We arrived at the main street that would take us to the Virgin. It was full of vendors, food and people. I felt like I was at the state fair. Of course in large crowds people get separated. But at least we had a meeting point, the medical tent. The local doctor, who originally wasn't going there, was there and the other nurses from San Salvador. It was hilarious; every person would go up to the medical tent and ask for muscle relaxers or something for the pain from walking. We finally all met up and then looked for a place to set up camp. Imagine a huge fair ground with people sleeping on every inch of the grass. There were probably about 5,000 people sleeping.

We put all our blankets on the ground and laid down. It felt soo good. There was a party but I had no desire to go dancing. We sat there and listened to the mass at midnight meanwhile trying to sleep. But not possible. At 4 am there was another mass. And at 5:30am one of the women called her husband to come and pick us up. The main mass was at 6 am but she had no desire to stay. Neither did I to be honest. So we ended up leaving at 6 am and got home by 7 am. The other people who stayed didn't get home till 6 pm, the bus broke down along the way home and no one had the energy to walk.

All in all it was a good experience, I got to know some people from my town a lot better, I was able to see the beautiful country side and see the Virgin of Itape. But I don't think I'll walk it again!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

It's Summer Again

Melissa, me and Angelic at Thanksgiving.

The sunflowers infront of my house.

Yummy quiche that I made.

English class graduation, and their sweeet shirts

Veggies from the school garden

And summer is Hot, Humid, and Sticky. Luckily it started a little later this year. We actually had a very pleasant spring with a few hot days broken up between crazy rain storms. There is no such thing as "drizzle" here, when it rains there is a crazy show behind it all.

My summer is pretty packed with happenings so hopefully I'll stay busy enough I'll forget about how hot it is. One of the stores in town started selling ice cream, and I think I am their more frequent customer.

Ok...sense its been a long while sense I've written I do a little update of things that have passed.

-The school year ended, and our school garden was a huge success. I had them all write poems about the garden and they were super fun to read. Oh and the veggies are still growing and delicious.

-The nuns sabotaged the Halloween party at the train station. Now I am stuck with 2 bags full of decorations. By the way...thanks mom for dragging those down here from the states.

- I wrote and finished my first grant ever and it happened to be in Spanish. The grant is funded through USAID. We, the Association, are fixing up the train station, which also functions as our community and culture center. There are no chairs, so we'll buy those with the money. There is no bathroom, so we'll make that will the money, and the lighting system is going to be reinstalled, making it possible to have night events, plug in the computer, and the new printer we are buying with the grant. All in all the station will be a place where everyone in the community can go to take different courses offered there with all basic necessities met.

-Chase and Kimmy came to visit. But only after getting to brazil and realizing that to enter into Paraguay you need a visa. So their visit was cut down to 2 days. But two of the funniest days in paraguay! We went to Aregua to see the lake, and hung out around Asuncion.

- Peace Corps Paraguay thanksgiving was held in Encarnacion this year. A blast as always. Lots of good food, good people, new friends, boos, sun burns, and laughs.

- We had our 2nd year english class graduation. The girls were surprised when I presented them with the shirts that say "english class 2010" that some friends at home helped buy. Thanks again everyone, the girls started to cry.

- The first "Feria Atesanal" is going to be tomorrow. The Association with whom I work is putting on a fair for the women in town who make traditional artisanal work. We've been very busy prepping this, I hope they have success and can sell some stuff. I have a feeling I'll be one of the baggiest clients buying Christmas presents.

- Both of my cats had kittens, so at one point my house was full of 11 cats. Yes I was that crazy old cat woman. Now I'm down to 3.

Now a few things I am planning on for the future.

- I am finally going to start the business class for youth. There is A LOT of movement going on right now in San Salvador with the construction of the new road, and lots of construction going on in town, the people need to take advantage of the movement and open some sort of businesses. they would make a killing off all the workers.

- I am taking two youth to a leadership camp in January that will focus on civic education, leadership, and much much more. Our goal is to come back and start a youth group.

- We have more art fairs planned for january and march.

- Our patron saint day is january 1st so there will be a week of parties.
- Angelic, Melissa, and I are going to take a vacation in February and go to Uruguay for a week. Yes the beach finally. Its time to get out of this land locked country and see some salt water.

- Jake, the volunteer closest to me and I are planning on doing a few weekend summer camps filled with sports, geography, art and much more. The kids have NOTHING to do here in the summer so hopefully we can have some fun in the heat.

- In march there will be a business workshop that I'll hopefully take two people from San Salvador. There is such a huge need for business here and hopefully we can get some going.

Well that's about it. I am really starting to miss home. Starting to think about the future, what the heck am I going to do after Peace Corps.?? Makes me a little nervous and anxious.

I really truly miss everyone so very much. I hope everyone is doing well and has a great holiday season. Enjoy the snow while I die of heat.