Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Past 2 weeks

Things have been a little hectic so I have not written in a little while. My apologies, although I honestly have no idea if anyone is reading this haha. I will try and work my way backwards recounting some of the more momentous events since I last posted.

This morning my host mom Alicia taught me how to kill a chicken (Some background: one of the family’s chickens decided to try and jump out of a tree and broke her leg and my mom said the right thing to do was kill it since it wasn’t going to live a normal life). She just grabbed the chicken by the neck and twisted it and there it went to bird heaven.. For those of you who know my hatred/fear of birds this was quite a happy moment. (don’t know if that is the word I mean haha). Its just one less of those stupid things to try and fly up on my chair, poop near my feet during dinner, or wake me up at 2 am. She then proceeded to dip the fresh killed chicken in hot water and the feathers came off much easier than I thought. Then she cleaned it up, cutting off its head and taking out all the internal organs. Once again I awake in the campo to some animal mutilation. I guess I’m just gunna have to get used to it.

We had a field trip to a farm in Asuncion yesterday where we learned some more about composting techniques, wormaculture and biogas. It was pretty interesting stuff and if you are interested I can supply you with some info. They also gave us some samples of food they make there and I had some of the best yogurt I’ve ever had. We were all drinking it by the cup full. The marble cake, ice cream, and chipa I ate were delicious as well. I hope we get to visit there again.

Last night a group of us went to the discoteca in Ypane (pronounced oo-pa-nay) about a 20 min walk away. We had a Paraguayan pregame in the plaza passing around glasses of beer and chatting. Then around 11 we headed over to the disco for the first of several Halloween parties this next few weeks. It was nice to dance around and hang out with everyone outside of class. This week’s disco adventure was much different than the previous week in which 20 of us piled into the back of a pickup truck with no brake line haha.

Those of some of the big things from the past few weeks. We attempted another trasiego (wild hive capture) but once again it failed and they swarmed before we could find the queen. Next week we have our tech excursion in a town about 2 hours away so I’m looking forward to that.

Yesterday marked one month in Paraguay which is strange to think about, only 26 more to go haha. Although the allure of everything shiny and new has faded away I am learning more and more about this country and becoming more comfortable with the idea of calling this place home for the next 2+ years.

PCV Visit..a little late

Sorry I have not written in a while. Training has gotten a bit hectic and it has been difficult to find time to post. However this has caused me to pre-write this post so hopefully is it slightly more well-written and longer than those prior.

Where to begin….
Last weekend were our volunteer visits. I went to this volunteer Mitra’s site up in a town called Sagrada Familia near Concepcion about 6 hrs away. There were about 5 other trainees heading up that way on the overnight bus on Friday so we headed into Asuncion that evening to catch dinner before our bus left at midnight. We headed from Guarambare to the Peace Corps office (where I got to use the internet for a brief moment) and then went to this super chuchi (fancy) Mexican restaurant where I ate fajitas, drank some beer, and had a brownie and ice cream for desert. I was quite content after this meal since I have only been dining on fried everything and mandioca (sort of like a potato that Paraguayans eat with everything). After dinner we went on to the bus terminal to buy our tickets. Almost every bus we tried was sold out until the following morning and it looked like we were staying the night until Norte Poty pulled through and had the 6 or so seats we needed. This wasn’t one of the chuchier companies we had originally planned to take but it would have to do since we needed to get up there. Mitra, my volunteer was traveling with us because she had been our volunteer visit on Friday afternoon so I was not worried however the others had already made plans to meet their volunteers at specific time so we needed to stick to the schedule.

After almost 8 hours of restless bus sleep we arrive in Concepcion safely and go our separately ways to begin our weekend of experience volunteer life. Sagrada Familia was still another 30 min bus ride from the big city and then a 5km walk from the main highway so my journey was far from over. The bus eventually arrived and we boarded. Mitra made plans for one of the senoras, Na Maria, in her town to come pick us up on horse cart so we didn’t have to walk all the way with our stuff which I was extremely thankful for, although a horse cart only goes about 2km/hr I was happy not to be walking in that heat.

After about an hour on horse and carriage we arrived at good old Sagrada Familia. Mitra’s house is located on the property of a family so we of course met them first and then placed our stuff inside and took a rest, me on the hammock outside and Mitra in her room. After our nap that was supposed to last an hour (ended up being 4) we made some pizza from scratch using some veggies from Mitra’s huerta (garden) and then got ready for the party in the campo we were attending with Mitra’s host sister of sorts Adriana. This was quite an interesting time. Unlike in the U.S., the mothers accompany their daughters to these fiestas to make sure nothing naughty happens so both of Mitra’s host mom’s (her former and current), attended the fiesta with us and patiently sat on the side until we were ready to leave which ended up being around 12:00 which was a late night for me.

I woke up at around 8 the next day and we had some omelettes and got ready for the family reunion/birthday party we were attending with her family that day in a town about an hour walk away. They left a little ways before we did on motorbike (which we are forbidden to ride by PC law) and we followed on foot sipping terere along the way. That evening I fell asleep in the hammock once again and awoke to Thai food Mitra had made which was extremely tasty. I also should mention we made a carrot cake that afternoon which was super delicious and budin (sort of like bread pudding) that evening which was also very yummy.

The next day we woke up and had a pretty tranquilo morning performed a trasiego (capture) of a wild hive located in a fallen tree on the land of her host uncle. It was by far one of the coolest things I have done since I’ve gotten here. We hacked open the trunk and found the queen within the first 2 minutes which is usually one of the most difficult parts. We grabbed an empty matchbox and placed her in there. After that we could begin to work more comfortably and we began cutting off the good parts of the comb and tying them to the hive. This whole process took about an hour and then the bees slowly filed into the hive and we left them to chill. I was leaving that afternoon so I do not know if it was successful but all signs point to yes.

I made plans to leave on the 7:15 bus on Tuesday morning with some other trainees so we went into Concepcion that evening to spend the night so I would have no problems catching the bus. We went to dinner at a Lebanese restaurant and I had some delicious sharawarma. Then we sat around playing kings and drinking some beer to prep for karaoke-ing. After a long night of singing and dodging creepy drunkards I went to bed for a few hours before I headed back towards Guarambare with the other trainees in the morning.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

first full week in training

¡Mbaechapa! ¡Hola todos!
Once again, I write to you from an Internet café in Paraguay, this time it is not blaring reggaeton, rather Shakira. First, a minor disclaimer….I have passed my days here speaking not only English and Spanish but Guarani so if my sentences don´t make much sense, that could be why. Also, from here on out I promise to try and pre-write these entries so they are not just me rambling on about random things. No what I really came here to write…..
I´ve only been gone a week but it definitely feels like much longer. Today´s activities included watching a cow get castrated and making a garden with the 8 other volunteers in my group, and this was all by lunch time. I guess this is life in the campo (country).
My host family continues to be super awesome. I love the little ones and my padres are super chill. We just sit around the dinner table and talk about life and drink terere which is a cold tea that usually has Jujuy (medicinal herbs like mint) in it. Monday to Friday I spend my mornings in language class from 745-11:30 when we break for lunch and a siesta. Some days we have another hour of language from 1-2 and then technical classes on beekeeping and agricuture. On Wednesday, instead of technical class we head on into our main training center for health, safety, and educational sessions. Saturdays are spent in technical class in the morning and free time in the afternoon until Sunday and the week begins again on Monday with language class.
On Thursday we had our first session out in the apiary where the bees are….let´s just say it did not go as I imagined. Let me preface this next portion with this note: we received typhoid and yellow fever vaccinations on Wednesday afternoon. We arrived at the apiary at around 2 and proceded to put on our gear, fire up our smokers, and get down to business. About 30 minutes after we got to work, I start to feel lightheaded and go sit down on a nearby log. I begin to feel a bit better so i try and go back so I can keep up with the lesson but realize i really do not feel well so i run to the woods where i proceed to relieve myself from both ends to say things nicely haha. I feel completely fine now and can at least say i´ve gotten that first illness out of the way.
Thats all for now…hate to end a post on Duch a frightening note but if you could´ve been there and seen this it was hilarious, in hindsight.

Love and miss you all and i hope to hear from you soon!


Friday, September 25, 2009

Bienvendos a Paraguay!

This post is kinda rushed because I need to catch the bus home before dark so I apologize for the lack of fluidity. I write to you with reggaeton playing in the background from an internet cafe near our main training center in Guarambare. Today´s activities consisted of being stung by a
bee (on purpose, fyi I am not allergic), a Spanish language evaluation (even though I will be speaking mainly Guarani, we have to be pretty good at it because we are going to be sent to the boonies), and various medical and cultural discussions.

The 41 other people in my training group are all pretty cool. They vary in age from fresh out of college (like me) to an older woman of about 67 and are from all across the USA. 4 sectors make up my training group, I am in beekeeping extension and there is also environmental education, agroforestry, and crop extension. Of the 4 groups, mine is by far in the most in the campo.

My host family consists of a husband and wife (both around 30), 2 daughters (8 and 1), and a son (3). They are really great and so far everything is going well with them. My house has both electricity and running water (I got lucky). The family has a cow (which we drink fresh milk from in the morning), a bunch of chickens, and some roosters who crow at 2am and confuse me. We have mango trees in our backyard, as well as others I have yet to identify. My house is located about 4.5km from the main city, which is by no means a city, therefore a quick bus ride or 40 min walk.

I´m feeling really good about Paraguay and the PC thus far. Everything is going great, the people are super friendly, the food is pretty good as well.

Well, that´s all for now. I should let some of the other eager trainees use the internet.


Saturday, September 19, 2009

First post

So, I leave for staging in Miami in 2 days and then after a brief introduction to the Peace Corps, Paraguay, etc I am off to first Sao Paolo, Brazil and then Paraguay where I will be for the next 2 years and 3 months of my life. The easiest way for me to keep contact with everyone will be this blog (which I will do my best to update), however, I would love some letters (see address on the side), and of course I will respond to emails (as long as I have internet). I don't have much to say as of yet. I am pretty much completely packed and probably really close to the PC imposed weight limit of 80 lbs and 107 inches total for my luggage.

Until Paraguay!