Thursday, November 17, 2011

Areguá and Site Selection Day!

Hello friends!  Things are really picking up the pace here in Paraguay.  Yesterday we all found out where we would be stationed during our two years of service!  But I'll get into that a little bit later.

Yesterday we had our "Viaje Cultural" in Areguá, a town not too far out of Asunción.  They had a lake!  It feels like forever since I've seen any real water bodies.  Being from Michigan, where no one is ever more than an hour and a half away from an enormous lake, water is noticeably lacking.  Areguá is a beautiful area, and we got to spend time climbing around on a rare rock formation, visiting a church and pottery-making store, and some people even went swimming in the lake.  It was a little brown for my taste. ;)

After arriving back at the Training Center in Guarambaré, we had a quick session where we learned some songs in Guaraní and how to dance to Paraguayan music.  Sorry guys, there's no way I'm posting a video of that part, haha.  Rhythm is not my forte, and certainly neither is dancing in general.

But honestly, now on to the good stuff.  The staff brought out a huge map of Paraguay with the 34 locations marked on the map.  Then, they drew one of our ID pictures out of a basket and stuck it on the map where our locations were.  Due to political turmoil in the north, all of the trainees are placed in the southeast portion of the country.  When they called my name, I walked up to the front and received my folder from Gloria (our program director) and went over to see where I would be living and working.  It felt like getting my diploma and then finding out where I was going to go to college all over again.

My location is called San José Boquerón, which is a compañia about 10 km outside of the pueblo of Ybycuí, which is in the Department (state) of Paraguarí.  Ted and I stopped in Ybycuí on the way to our volunteer visits back in October, so I'm fairly familiar with at least what the town looks like.  I'm going to be what Peace Corp refers to as a Follow-Up Volunteer, meaning that there is currently a volunteer stationed at that site until December, and I will be taking her place.  The volunteer that I'm replacing ran one of our training sessions, and she's also from Michigan and went to MSU!  So that means I won't have to describe where I'm from, which takes away like half of the Guaraní that I know, haha.

I'll be meeting my community contact and heading down for a visit starting on Friday, and I'm really pumped about it!  According to the info packet I was given, the volunteer currently working there has spent a lot of time with the womens' comité and with the kids in the school.  I'm hoping to be able to continue her work, while adding some soil recuperation and natural resources conservation tecniques.  This is getting exciting!  I'm just eager to get to the site, see what it looks like, and try to get a feeling where I might get started.

The info says that the farmers in this community plant on the hillsides because the flat ground is mostly wetland.  I'm going to stay away from wetland determinations (I've had enough of those for a LONG time), but it looks like I'll get to do plenty regarding contour farming and maybe some other options.  Any of you NRCSers, please feel free to share some ideas!

Overall, my Peace Corps experience continues to get more and more exciting.  I'm having a great time here with the other trainees, the staff, and the Paraguayans that I've met so far.  My swear-in ceremony is coming up on December 9, and very soon after that I'll be moving to my site.  There's a chance I may have access to internet at my new house (eventually?), but there is also a café in Ybycui, so keeping up the blog shouldn't be a problem.  Hopefully I will continue to have new and exciting experiences to share with all of you on a weekly basis!

I'll be sure to give a solid update after my return from my first week at site, and of course, expect more photos and videos!

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