Friday, November 25, 2011

Future Site Visit - San José Boquerón

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!  I'm sad that I can't be with my family today, but we're having a get-together with all of the trainees at the Ambassador's house in Asunción, so that should be fun (I'm writing this on Thanksgiving).

The compañia of San José Boquerón is located roughly 10 km from the puebla of Ybycuí, which is about a 2-hour bus ride from Asunción.  Last Friday, I met my contact's 18 year-old son, Luis, during our "Encuentro" at a retreat center and we jumped on the bus and headed to site.  It's a small community of maybe 300 people, but not that many houses.  It's common for people to have 10 to 14 kids. As a follow-up volunteer, I had the benefit of having someone to talk to about things from a Peace Corps perspective, which was huge.

I lived with a family near the school, and they were extremely friendly and hospitable.  I'm grateful for their patience with my broken Guaraní and Spanish, because it was a real wake-up call for me of how little I know.  I'm coming along okay and I'm trying not to get discouraged, but learning two languages at a time is not easy.  I sometimes don't even know which one people are speaking.

The first morning, I went to a weekly book club (club de libros) with Amanda, the current volunteer.  She meets up with kids for an hour each week so they can practice their reading skills and draw.  I plan on continuing the club once I get to site permanently, because it's so important that these kids learn to develop their imaginations and creativity!  Plus, working with the kids is going to be one way that I can continue to integrate into the community and opens up doors in the future for working in the schools.
The second day I was supposed to climb the Cerro, but it rained most of the day.  The third day I was supposed to go to Ybycuí with Amanda, but it rained most of the day.  And on top of that the running water had been out of service for two weeks and the electricity went out for two days... It was difficult for me. Tranquilo, right?  However, I did get to spend some time in the afternoon walking to the fields and getting to know some families.  Most of the lowlands are wetlands, so everything flooded.  The streets turned to rivers and just about everyone stayed inside for the two days.

This town is much different from where my training location is.  The fields are about a half-hour walk from the community, so most of the men are gone all day.  They leave on their ox-carts in the morning and often don't return until late afternoon.  It presents some challenges for me as an ag volunteer because I will have to split my team between the men in the fields and the very active women's comités in town.
The final day, Amanda and I went to Ybycuí and met the DEAG extension agents (the Ministry of Agriculture), she showed me where to shop, the post office and police station, and stuff like that.  We also met a young English teacher that works in one of the schools.  He's 22 and speaks pretty good English, but wants to learn more.  I think we're going to meet often so he can practice his English and I can practice my Spanish and Guaraní.  There's also a KOICA (the South Korean version of the Peace Corps) volunteer that lives in Ybycuí, so that should be fun.  He has another year of service and speaks Spanish really well, so I'm hoping we'll work together a lot.  Maybe I'll even pick up some Korean. (HA!)

Just some notes for the future, the odds are really good that I'll have decent internet access (yay!).  Amanda has it and is able to video skype with her family without too many problems.  This means that I'll be able to chat with all of you occasionally, as well as keep this blog going for my full term of service!  Also, I will be having a change of address soon, so I'll be sure to note when that officially switches over.  If you want to continue to send things to the Peace Corps office, that works fine.  After December 9, the "PCT" will change to a "PCV" though.  And as I mentioned above, Ybycuí has a post office, so I'll post that address later on.  Regarding skype or email, my contact info is on the right sidebar above, and I also have Google voice/video(?).  I Haven't used it yet, but I recently installed it on my computer.

Please continue to pray that I will stay positive.  It's unlikely that I will have a lot of space until I move into my own house in February or March, the electricity and water problems have potential to drive me a little crazy, and working with kids is really intimidating for me.  Especially during the Christmas season I'm going to feel the isolation from my family and friends (I'm feeling it already), so I can't let any homesickness take over. I have about two weeks left of training, and then I'm officially a Peace Corps Volunteer and the adventure really begins!  Thanks to all who write to me and send me things. ;)  It's always nice to get stuff from home.

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