Archive | September, 2011

Odds and ends

11 Sep

As I sit and veg out today with some fantasy/sci-fi books, I feel like I’ve had an eventful, yet uneventful couple of weeks. After our Fiesta Patronal wrapped up, things finally fell into place for me to move. Due to a series of unfortunate events, I was previously living in a hotel (picture a “seen better days” 50’s U.S. motel in your head). This was convenient in a few ways: cable tv, my own bathroom, lots of privacy.

hotel room

However it was completely inconvenient in others: way on one side of town, occasional inconsiderate guests, weird smell from the drain, washing machine that was constantly in use, lots of privacy (which meant, not a lot of opportunity to practice my Spanish after it got dark out), the reaction of some men when you tell them you live in a hotel.

Since the day I got to town I was asking around about possibility moving in with a family, but had little success. After almost a month of searching I finally found Petrona, a very nice lady who works at the hospital and happened to have 1) an extra room 2) no problems with cooking for vegetarians and 3) experience housing volunteers in the past. Score! I moved about a week ago and things are going swimmingly. The house has a great porch, where I spend a ton of time reading, and the yard is full of plants (including a fabulous garden and a ton of fruit trees).

My new porch

The Veggie Garden

Plus, I still get my own bathroom and get to chill out in my own little corner of the house. It also turns out Petrona is a very talented cook, so I find myself well fed and with good conversation from her and family at every meal. It’s been a good week.

I also made my first excursion to Encarnación, one of the largest cities in Paraguay, which is about 2 hours from my town. Encarnación is situated on the river that forms the southern border between Paraguay and Argentina. It’s a pleasant place, with lots of shopping and some nice buildings and parks.

Encarnacion cathedral

I visited to stock up on peanut butter, visit the book fair, meet with a local tourism agency and quench my wanderlust a bit. There was success on all fronts. Some of my fellow volunteers also were in town for the book fair, so that made the day extra fantastic. They also all knew about this ice cream buffet place called Mako’s, which also contributed greatly to making the day excellent.

Ice Cream from Mako's

When I returned I spent the rest of the week continuing to work on getting to know the community, developing some proposals for some local organizations, and prepping for my upcoming site presentation. The site presentation is when my boss at Peace Corps comes out and gives a talk about what Peace Corps is all about, who I am, and the type of stuff I’m here to do. My contact and I are both supposed to say a few words at this event too. Prepping for this has been a bit odd for me because Paraguayans appear more casual about planning events than Americans. You can invite someone a day or two before an event here. In fact, if you want people to actually come, that tends to work better (less time to forget?). I plan to spend my Monday delivering invitations on my new bicycle (I have a new bicycle!) and trying to think up something to say to everyone who comes. Just to keep me on my feet for this presentation Paraguay has also thrown some bizarro soap-opera-style developments my way with my contact, who resigned as director of the Cultural Center on Friday, only to have his resignation (politely) refused on Saturday. As to who will be speaking as my community contact, I have no idea. I’m amused by the fact that I’m not worried about any of this. I think I’m starting to get a little tranquilopa in my veins. Let’s hope it coasts me through the week.