Sunday, November 29, 2009

Future site visit

I better get this started before I get to far behind!
Last week we got our site, which means we now know why we are here. As well as where we’re going to be living, what we’re going to be doing and who is going to be around us. For weeks on end we had been speculating where we would be and what kind of site we would get. Many a language class was used to talk about where we would be, mostly in English. Finally the day dramatically arrived, we all were in Guarambare but wouldn’t find out where we would live until 3:45 pm. Torture! I think we had a language class in the morning and that afternoon we did some Paraguayan polka and listened to some Paraguayan harp and guitar playin. Finally at 3:45 we broke into our respective groups, the environmental sector and the crop sector, meaning environmental ed and agroforestry and beekeeping and agrocultura. We all sat in a circle and Holly our person in charge of finding our sites came in with a bunch of folders in her hand. Without further ado she just jumped right into it, very anticlimactic like after weeks of talking and thinking about it. She picked up a folder and handed it to the person, on the folder it said where your site was, and then Robin, her sidekick, put up a sticky note on a big map of Paraguay that was in the room. My name was called, I was handed a folder, a post it note was stuck on a map, and the next name was called. That was it. I looked down at my folder and…. Carapegua. All right! No clue where that is or anything about it. I soon learned it was the hammock capitol of Paraguay and there are a lot of artisens there. It’s a city with about 15,000 people and actually kinda close to La Colmena, where I went for my volunteer visit (with the Japanese food!). I will be living in the center and will be mainly working in the schools. I will also be directly following up 2 EE volunteers, preeessure! The last volunteer who just left, Scott, was very guapo (hard working) and did lotsa projects, so I have a lot to follow up on! I’m down with that. So the next day we were to meet our contacts who would take us to our new site and present us to the community. They would arrive in our towns and would eat and sleep in our houses. How…awkward. But, as we all know, it’s not PC Paraguay if it’s not awkward.
The next day we were ready to meet our contacts. We were sitting in our CHP and a van pulled up full of Paraguayans, they were probably as nervous as we were. They got out of the van and some of them were taking pictures of everything. They filed in and we formally met our contacts. My contacts name is Paula and she was very…very.. .happy to meet me. She was hugging me and everything, taking pictures, talking, talking…more talking. She’s a talker! She’s also from Argentina but moved here when she was 21, she’s 34 now and is married to a Paraguayan and has 3 kids and teaches at a school in Carapegua. She was very excited to be part of this and was into all the activities we had to do. That night she slept in the other room in my bed and talked to my h mom, and the next morning we left for Carapegua. Oh, and I changed my name to Lola, so as not to be confused with a parrot anymore since lora in Spanish means female parrot.
Carapegua: the main plaza is very pretty. It has a bunch of old trees and a statue in the middle. There are some vines and mosses hanging from the trees that gives it that old time feel. On one side of the plaza is a big church, and close by is the fire house with 2 fire trucks (not the big red ones we’re used too). Branching out from the plaza are streets set up in a typical city block fashion. Looking out into the distance you can see hills and at night a beautiful sunset. Getting further out of the city center the land becomes campo very fast. There are more fields and the houses are spaced further apart so it’s very easy to ride a bike to the outskirts and see some nice views. Very beautiful sunsets too.
Everyone and their mom drives a motorcycle here…and I mean that. No one really has cars unless you’re rich. Motos (as they’re called) are much cheaper and easy to get. I’m not even sure what kind of license you need, I’ve definitely seen a 12 year old riding one. They actually really annoying though, very loud and I’m always getting out of the way for them. Not to mention that we are not allowed to get on one unless we want a quick one way ticket back to the US, it’s a little disheartening walking down the road in 100 degree weather as people zoom by on motos. But not to worry, I’ll have my bike soon (bici).
My week: ok. The first night I spent at Paula’s mom’s house. Very nice woman, yummy food, chuchi bathroom…. and a bedroom that makes me cry thinking I have to go back to it!!! It smells of mold and the floor is cement, the bed and dresser take up most of one part of the room. The mattress was probably 30 years old and an inch thick in the middle. The pillows smelled pretty funky. But this is the Peace Corps right? So I happily took it. The next day I met up with Rebecca, another volunteer who lives in the city with me (it’s not that common to have 2 in one place). She showed me Scott’s house where I will be living in the future and met 2 other guys who were in town at the house (it’s kinda used as a hotel at the moment for volunteers passing by). These guys kinda close, which means they are in my VAT group. The VAT group is all the volunteers close by you, we meet every other month to talk about stuff then one person goes to Asuncion and tells Peace Corps how things are going.
The next day I went to a town near by with those people plus some others. I have 2 people from my group (a beekeeper and an agroforester) in my VAT group, we went to the town where the agroforester is now going to be for a goodbye party for the volunteer who is leaving that town (she’s gonna be taking over his spot). He had been raising a pig for this occasion and the day before he had killed it and today was the eating of it, thank god he killed it yesterday. Not something I want to see. But it was fun and good to meet other volunteers and watch them have a jam session with guitars and a banjo. While at the site I started to get itchy on my stomach, I looked to see where the mosquito bite was and saw two, then three, then four, they were all over my stomach and I realized they weren’t mosquito bites. They were bedbug bites! That damn 30 year old mattress was infested with bedbugs! I guess I didn’t sleep tight since I was bitten everywhere! So uncomfortable (though not as bad as poison ivy).
I didn’t want to go back to that bed the next night so I slept in Scott’s old house (my future house) but knew I had to go back at some point. When I did I told Paula and her mom that I think we should put the mattress in the sun to kill the bugs, they said I was allergic to the dust in the mattress and just put a blanket over the mattress then the sheets. No no no. that’s not gonna keep them away! But I don’t want to be disrespectful! Ugh. So I had to sleep three more nights in the cave room with the bugs. I don’t know what I’ll do when I go back in 2 weeks because I don’t want to disrespect Paula and her mom by moving out of the house but…let’s be honest it’s gotta happen! Very nice people though.
Anyway Paula and Rabecca took me around and I got to meet my other contacts and teachers in other schools I will be working in. But I was really happy to be going home to my nice room that is only plagued by giant spiders and the cat. On a fluffier note Rebecca has a rabbit who just had bunnies and she’s gonna make her have more and I’m gonna get one. Pet bunny for my house. Do you think I can have a kitten and bunny and have them get along? Perhaps we’ll find out.

P.S. Advice for anyone who wants to join the Peace Corps, we’re card playin people so brush up on you’re card games, especially yuker and hearts. And rummy. My VAT group says I better learn how to play hearts in the next two weeks because that’s all they do at meetings. Good thing it’s on my computer!

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