Sunday, November 1, 2009

Updates, tech excursion and dia de practica. Holloween

Kinda long, get comfy, turn off the phone, here we gooo…….

So after my food post we were thinking about, even though they don’t eat the best or exercise really, how do they end up living so long? I’ve seen examples of people living into their 90s. We figured that even though it’s a bad diet they don’t do some of the things we do back home, like snake between meals; and if they do it’s usually a fruit like an orange. They do a lot more physical work in general than many people back in the states, a lot of walking around too. And there are not a lot of processed foods getting shoved down their throats by commercials and ads, so what they are eating is more natural. If they don’t eat the fat on their meat (in fact if they just don’t eat as much of it in general) and cut way down on their table sugar intake and upped the wheat bread and ate more veggies and fruits they would be pretty healthy! Not so much to ask no? :p

Ok this weekend we went on our tech excursion to a couple places. One was a tree nursery called Reforpar. It’s owned by a Dutch man who retired down here with his wife, there’s about 7 or 8 Paraguayan workers and they work a lot with Peace Corps volunteers. The Dutch dude funds it himself and the company pretty much raises trees and gives them away for free to help reforest Paraguay. All you need to do is write them a nice letter telling them what you want to do and how many trees you want and that the people you’re going to work with show initiative to care for the trees. On the way to his tree nursary I saw a cow in a yard and something was weird with her...she deff had two little hoooves comin out the backend! She was havin a calf! we really wanted to watch but we had to get to the nursary, so of course when we passed by after there was a little wobbly calf trying to walk! It was v cute! After we went to Caacupe where the Dutch man lives and also there is a church that people make a huge pilgrimage to for the Virgin, kinda like people in Mexico traveling to see the Virgin of Guadalupe. It’s a religious tourism place. I didn’t find her, but there were a lot of kids receiving communion that day.

That night I stayed at a house that Lindsey, who’s site we went to visit after Caacupe, had set up. It was a young fam, a 29 year old teacher with a 8 month old son, her husband who didn’t talk to me really and the girl who watched the kid while they work. I slept in the room with the girl and the fan was soooo noisy all night and they left the lights on so the bugs go to them during the night. I didn’t sleep very well. Next day Ricardo picked us up and we went to Lindsey’s house so he could tell us about his experience as a volunteer in a campo (country) site. He’s extending one year to work with Reforpar. We left him and met up with the other half of our group (they stayed near Caaucape at Dan, another volunteer, his site).

After we went to a national park that Dan had planned a trip with a group of jovenes (youths) about 40 of them plus us. The park is called Cerro Kavaju and it’s really pretty. It has rock formations and we actually had to climb up and slide down some pretty tricky paths. And to get there we all climbed into the back of this truck, kinda like a dump truck, and then put a huge tarp over us, so we were squished in this random truck going who knows where in the dark with a bunch of teenage Paraguayans and Dan’s dog. It was fun and there were beautiful views and it was worth it even though it was raining and I got my pants dirty. We didn’t realize that we would be practically rock climbing so no one was prepared. It went well, the jovenes had fun. Then we returned home.

That brings us to Monday, I had my language interview meant to gauge where we are with our Spanish and if we can move into Guarani yet… and Tuesday we all learned that our group can! That means we all hit mid intermediate Spanish! We started with the Guarani alphabet. It’s hilarious. There are very different sounds than our mouths are used to making. Every vowel has a double, one is pronounced regularly and the other is pronounced nasaly, using the noise. And the Y sounds like some sound you make when you lift heavy objects. Here’s what the alphabet looks like:

A, Ã, CH, E, Ẽ, G, G̃, H, I, Ĩ, J, K, L, M, MB, N, ND, NG, NT, Ñ, O, Õ, P, R, RR, S, T, U, Ũ, V, Y, Ỹ, and ' (puso or glottal stop)

weeeeeeee! So why learn this language? Because here we are a bilingual country, Guarani is their mother tongue. Here’s what my language book says:

“97 % of the Paraguayan population speak the Guarani language…. (the rest is prob the ppl who live in Asuncion who only speak Spanish or immigrants. Or German. Since there are a lot of Mennonites)… This is especially true in the countryside, where most of the rural population uses Guarani to express themselves within the family, community, and at work. The language originated with the Guaranies, an indigenous tribe who lived a long time ago in Py. These days, some portions of ethnic Guarani speak the pure Guarani form”
The rest speak Jopara, a mix of Guarani and Spanish, although a couple years ago when the school reform act was passed they are now teaching pure Guarani in the schools to revitalize the original language.

Never the less, it makes my throat hurt but I’m determined to learn it because it shows the people that you’re willing to learn their language and they’ll respect you more, and keep learning Spanish. And when I return to the US I’m headin to NYC to find little Paraguay (it’s there I’ve heard about it) and I’m gonna go in and speak some Guarani!! I should be studying it now!!! OPA!

But first, today. It was our third dia de practica and Leah my partner and I had to go to the school to teach a class!! Our class was on why we need trees and we were going to present it to 4th graders. We had a newspaper article to talk about, a story to read, questions for them to answer and trees for them to plant. We wrote up the questions all lindo (pretty) on this big paper and the answers on others so we could tape them up after we had them guess.
So we get to school with our stuff and our tree and find out that the teacher was sick that day, which was actually better because we had full run of the class. The directora even said we could stay and teach all day if we wanted. We turned that one down though. The sub was in the class and told the kids to listen and we went in and introduced ourselves. Laura, our language teacher, also was there to watch us and help just in case we couldn’t get our point across. But I had written out what I wanted to say about the newspaper article and then I read the story to them, after Leah asked the questions and put up the answerers. Kids here aren’t used to really having questions asked to them, they pretty much just copy stuff off the board, no critical thinking, so they weren’t really answering our questions but toward the end they started too. After we had them copy the questions into their notebook since apparently doing that makes things more official. Copying is very important to them. Then we went outside to plant our trees! The gardener had already dug us holes and everything since the sub teacher went out and told him what was going on. It went really well actually. What we would have done differently was before we had them head outside to plant, we should have went over what kind of trees we had and how to actually plant and put them in groups inside the classroom. Because once you get 25 4th graders outside you lose their full attention! But other than that it went very well.

Yesterday was halloween. first, my 15 year old ASPCA poster dog decided to take the long sleep. He passed away, thank god, because he was a mess looking. Was not having a good end of life so I was happy he finally decided to die. It was 95 degrees so it didnt´feel very halloweeny since it wasn´t fall. Didn´t do much actually, had class then had many naps because the heat just drains you! But Emmy and I went to this discoteque in Guaramabare that night with her brothers. It was a very pretty venu with an outside dance floor and DJ and bar and really chuchi bathrooms. apparently people stay till 6 am but we peaced out at 1:30 am because we were gonna walk back and not ride with anyone who was drunk!

Today is Dia de Los Muertos where families go to the cemetary to celebrate a dearly departed´s life. it´s two days long and today is for anyone who had a child who died, tomorrow is for everyone else. unfortunatly we have to go today :(

on that note here are some fotos!

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