“Che ahakuri Rectape. La sitio michieterei. Che aikokuri otra voluntariondi héra Jonathan. Ore oikytikuri takuare’ê ha oñe’êkuri famíliakuerandi.” This was my attempt at summing up my visit to the community of Recta (I know… Insert joke here: _______) in Guaraní for my language class Saturday morning. Not too bad, but I still have a long way to go! In English: I went to Recta. The city was very small. I lived with another volunteer named Jonathan. We cut sugar cane and talked with families.
Just as a side note, Guaraní never fails to impress me as a language. The word for stream is “ysyry.” Seriously. It’s pronounced something like uh-suh-ruh. I’m still working on the y sounds, which are very prevalent in the language.
But anyway, back to Recta. I traveled with Ted (an Environmental Education trainee) for most of the trip. We rode from Guarambaré to Tres Bocas, then about two hours by bus to Ybycui where we waited for a couple more hours for a bus and met up with Jonathan, who was returning from Asunción. The three of us then traveled another hour and a half or so to Isla Naranja where Ted had to get off to meet his volunteer. Jonathan and I got off the bus in Nuahi Uno a half-hour later, and then walked about an hour to Recta. What a day, right? Busy busy.
Jonathan’s house was very small—just one room with a bed and some shelves. He had a well and latrine behind the house. We were pretty far out there to say the least! We made some dinner and just talked about what working there was like for him. Neither his shower nor his latrine had any walls, so it was definitely an interesting experience just standing in a field to shower and stuff… I’ll probably build some walls wherever I end up.
The second day was a bit rough for me because I totally lost my voice. One of the families that we visited that day (with 14 kids!) gave us some herbs that we boiled into this tea. It was supposed to clear my pipes out. It didn’t really work that well for me, but it tasted good. Later in the day we went back down to Nuahi Uno for a comité meeting about starting a bank for the area. I learned a lot about comités and how they function which was good because I’ll probably be working with one or trying to start one once I find out where my site will be. I’m sure I’ll write more about comités in the future.
By Wednesday I mostly had my voice back, so we went from house to house looking for work and observed some of the massive deforestation that is going on in the area. There is a lot of slashing and burning going on so that they can farm on the sides of the hills (opportunities for terracing, WASCOBs or contour cropping, eh NRCS?). Eventually we ended up spending some time cutting takuare’ê (sugar cane) for a little while. It’s fun to use a machete, but with my affinity for injury I definitely need to watch myself.
On Thursday, I visited a school and then walked two hours to Isla Naranja (the bus didn’t go all the way to Nuahi Uno that day). I got on the bus with Ted and headed back to Guarambaré. When I came home to Santo Domingo, I found out I had one of the most rural site visits out of everyone. It was definitely an adventure! Now that I know what a site looks like, I have a better idea of what to discuss with my program director regarding what I’m looking for in a site. I know I won’t get everything I want, but they do try to take preferences into account because volunteers have to there for two years.
Site selection is slated for week seven of training. I’m excited for it! This week and next week is a lot of technical training. On one hand, it’s hard to believe I’ve already been in Paraguay for almost a month, but on the other hand it does feel like it’s been a while. Thanks for following the blog, and I look forward to talking with you all in the future!
On Saturday afternoon, we got to go to a mall in Asuncion (It’s crazy how basically any mall in the world is the same), and I had my first good cup of coffee since I left the States. It wasn’t Starbucks (gotta go to Buenos Aires for that) and it was tiny, but it still hit the spot. Believe it or not, they don’t drink coffee here. It’s like the one country in South America, haha. I think it’s because of everyone here just drinks tereré. All they really have here is instant NesCafé.
Because some of you who have asked, I added my mailing address to the sidebar in the contact info section. Regular mail takes a while, so especially if you’re sending a package I’d recommend UPS or FedEX. Ideas of things to send? Starbucks Via would be greatly, GREATLY appreciated, and single-serving packets of Gatorade powder would be awesome as well.