Sunday, September 27, 2009

First Couple of Days: Getting Oriented!


Mba’e la porte!

I’v arrived safe and sound in Guarambare, the training town an hour away from Asunsion. The plane ride to Brazil was uneventful other than my tv screen not working and me not being able to fall asleep, but that’s no big surprise. After we arrived in Asunsion, Paraguay from Brazil we got our bags and loaded it into a big van, then we all got into a different van depending on what group we were in. Only one person had lost a bag which is pretty good for a group that’s 42 people with 84 bags! Don’t worry she got hers the next day. The weather was beeaauuutiful, clear sky and around 80 degrees! During our ride to the training center in Guarambure, Richard (the environmental ed trainer) told us that 3 people die a day in motorcycle accidents! And then we saw one! Well not happen but the aftermath. Way to drive the point home!

Anyway once at the training center we had our interview for our family. They asked us how we felt about living with animals, any special diet, living with small children and whatnot. Also we had our photo ID pictures taken, yes, a picture that will haunt us for the rest of our time here since they took it after being on 2 planes with no sleep and bad hair. So it was important to have a nice change of clothes in our carry on’s and makeup (which I did not have). We had some more briefings then went to our respective areas to meet our new fam! Our group is the biggest with 13 people and our personal EE training center is very pretty and big. There’s a pool and a small soccer field and kitchen and patio for classes outside and it’s all fenced in. Driving up there were horses and cows milling about grazing and walking around, all very tranquil. Our families were inside on the patio ready to meet us as we pulled up, and when we got out we hid behind the van out of awkwardness. Finally someone walked around (prob Richard our trainer) and we all very timidly followed and stood in a group in front of all our new families. One by one our name was called out and everyone watched as that person said their saludos or kissed cheeks and stood by the their fam. My name was called second to last, waiting till the end almost felt like being the last kid picked in gym class, but really it just went by alphabetical order. My name was called and I met my host mom who took my bag (which was probably 459872435 lbs) and I took my other one and we walked across this field to my new house! Thankfully Ricardo (Richard) took my bags in his van to my house because they were 436347356754687 lbs each. (actually they were 90 lbs in total and I didn’t have to pay extra! Bonus!)

That all feels like so long ago but it was only 2 nights ago! I’m not on my third night and I’m so happy I have the family I have! It’s only mi madre y mi padre and their 20 year old daughter who helps me with my homework and everything else! And of course there’s the chickens and the 2 dogs and the cow and the cat and Jamie the parrot mi novio. The weather has been beautiful! It’s spring now so there’s not to many mosquitoes which is good because we didn’t get our nets yet. Also the we got our med kits the second day so I didn’t have repelente till then. But it’s all good because I actually don’t have one bite! Only a bee sting. That I got on purpose. For fun. Well, partly for fun partly to see if I was allergic. It was required that the beekeepers, crop extentioners and agroforestry people get stung but we had the choice. I hope to work with bees for one of the training sessions so I decided to get one too. Apparently it’s easy to set up a hive here and cheap and it’s something we can do as a side project if we’re rural enough. Back to my house…. I have a room all to myself with 2 beds and a dresser, high ceiling, 2 chairs, a desk, a night table and a picture of a drunk chimpanzee in soccer clothes with 2 bottles of wine leaning on a goalpost that that says “ no hay rivales” (there are no rivales) which is good because he helps me sleep. The house is small but the yard is big and the bathroom is outside! It’s not as bad as it sounds though because it’s like a regular bathroom with running water, a sink and toilet and heated showerhead, just outside. I’ve noticed for food they eat a lot of white bread, white bread sticks, white rice, mandioca ( a root tuber kinda like a potato) soda, and they load everything up with sugar or salt. Like the salad I had today. Lettuce, tomato and a cup of salt, not the healthiest food in this culture so I must be very conscious to … not get fat :p and people don’t really work out here so…

I have electricity and I’m glad I have my laptop because I’m able to type out this blog here in my bed, save it to my little travel stick thing, walk 15 mins toward the center of town and use the internet café quickly. The road near the town center is paved, then getting more into our area it turns into bricks and red dust, and for my road it’s a total red dust dirt road. Pretty cool. You can find lots of things on it like animal bones and flattened frogs (when I see that I know I’m close to my house). There are dogs and chickens wandering about everywhere as well.

I’m pretty sure I’ll start learning Guarani Monday but I’m so glad I knew a little before I came, one step ahead of the game! Tomorrow my family has been invited to our neighbor’s son’s first birthday party. He’s their nephew and we went there tonight actually. It’s a very tranquilo lifestyle here, it’s the weekend so there was a lot of sitting around and talking, during the day, after dinner, tonight. We talked about how expensive it is to live in the US and how the lifestyle is different and how everyone has stress up there but not here. My host dad couldn’t believe when I told him how much it costs to have a child in a hospital in the US, apparently it’s free here unless you need a c-section. The weather tonight was beautiful and on the way back to the house he showed me the different trees in the backyard like lime trees and orange trees and had me smell and chew the leaves to taste the different flavors. There was also pinapple plants growing… it’s like living in my very own real life Farmville!!!

I’ve only been here for the three days and each night it’s getting hotter. The first night was chilly and I needed to bust out the blanket I brought for the plane plus the sheets and blankets my host mom gave me, last night I wasn’t cold and right now I’m pretty warm. And all night the dogs battle it out with the roosters to see who can make the most noise, fortunately it’s not right outside my house so it doesn’t bother me but it’s different to hear! So, roosters do not crow only when the sun comes up, it’s all the time. Myth busted!

The people here are very nice and friendly and love to teach you Guarani. This town is used to Americans though since they’re always here 4 times a year training, so I don’t know what it will be like more in the interior. I’m the 4th person my host family has hosted so they know the deal which is nice. In Paraguay if you go into your bedroom with a boy even if he’s a friend it’s automatically assumed that certain things are going on in there and between you two. The other night Dan my Jersey comrade was walking me home (since they want the girls to not walk around alone in the beginning) and my host mom invited him into the house and showed him my room and told us we could go in there if we wanted. This was interesting because it means she knows what to expect from the American culture. But we steered clear of the room situation because we knew they would see it as something else, but they knew American’s were different and wanted to be culturally sensitive to us! We both were trying to be respectful to each others cultures at the same time! We went over to Jamie instead to get out of the house before the neighbors could come to any conclusions!

Water. They pretty much get us drinking the water here right away to get used to it. It’s actually not that dirty of water here it’s just there’s different microbes in it than we’re used to that we need to adapt our bodies too. So far I’m handling it well :p

This is getting way long so I’m going to, plus I have to stop myself from writing a mix of Spanish and English since my brain is thinking more and more in Spanish.. so far I’m very happy with everything! This is a great place and It’s so cool to be in a country that doesn’t really have tourists. We get to live and see the real lives of it’s people and they’re happy we’re here getting to know them.

**factoid: Paraguay grows the plant that makes Stevia**

The field I walk through to get to the training center
My bed
dresser, other bed and chimpanzee
Me armed with my new monies and Spanish dictionary
Drivin out of Asuncion

The great EE training group G31

1 comment:

  1. my mom says she is enjoying your blog & it sounds like you're making yourself at home. not as at home as on mt. brennan, but you know..