Monday, January 30, 2012

Moving In!

Hello again!  My site presentation was last Friday, and it went GREAT!  Gloria and Kevin (the Ag Volunteer Coordinator) came to my site in the morning and we had tererè at my new house.  I was not all the way moved in at that point, but it was still good to get the OK that everything there was good.  The Site Presentation is basically a Peace Corps summary of our work, history, rules, and general information for the community.  Gloria talked about my college degree and my work with the USDA a bit, and then launched into the rest of the info.  Over 30 people showed up from San Jose!  It was nice to have that support from the community.

I have spent the last few days fixing up the house and moving all of my things into it.  I packed way too much.  If you`re thinking of joining Peace Corps, UNDERPACK.  It is easy to find things in Asuncion, and I brought way too much.  Here is a quick tour of my house-

And some photos-
Inside the house.  I am probably eventually going to get a new fridge and use this one as a pantry.

The porch is actually bigger than the inside of the house.  Provides some much needed sombra!

Yay for a bike!  No more six mile walks for a while!

I am super-happy in my new digs.  There is still some work to be done, but over all I think it is going to work out great!  It`s close enough that I can still hang out with Rodrigo and Rolando (my landlord`s nephews), and I get to use their shower and toilet, as well as their running water.  So yay for that!  Eventually I want to run a pipe down so I can have a spicket closer to the house.  It is kind of a pain to make the trip down that hill with a bucket.

In the coming weeks I am going to be building a fence for my garden.  I started my compost pile yesterday, and the soil is in desperate need of rejuvenation.  It`s like a concrete parking lot out there.

Well, gotta go do some grocery shopping!  I get to cook for myself now!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


Patience has never been a strength of mine.  I don't like to wait for things.  At home I had to wait for things all the time.  Lines at the U-Scan at Meijer made me crazy, getting every red light on Stadium Rd. between my office was torture, and the worst--traffic jams on US-23N.  Ann Arborites know what I'm talking about. The worst free-way in the world.

So I don't know why I'm surprised that I have to wait for things in Paraguay.  Waiting for my electricity to be installed, waiting to move into my own house, waiting to start projects... Everywhere we are we're always waiting for something.

This leads me to how life is really all about waiting.  Waiting with anticipation.  My entire life is spent looking toward Christ's return, when He will come establish His perfect kingdom and the suffering and pain will all disappear.  Waiting isn't always a bad thing... it's when the hope disintegrates that we're left unsatisfied.

Those of you who pray, please be in prayer for my family.  These last couple of years have hit us all pretty hard regarding health and stress.  We're waiting for some relief... for things to stabilize.  When I decided to join Peace Corps, I knew that leaving wouldn't make these stressful things go away, and I certainly wasn't trying to run from them.  But now that I'm here, I feel a little bit separated from everything, and it's frustrating to me that I can't talk with my sisters or my parents as often as I'd like.

God has His plan for what is going on in the lives of my parents, my sisters, and myself.  It's all about trusting in that perfect plan and allowing things to happen without losing faith.  My grandmother passed away around Thanksgiving, and now people at home are having serious surgeries, having babies, changing jobs, moving... there's a lot going on and I'm just here in South America, reading books and texting like a crazy person.

An added benefit of a slower schedule is that I have hours to pray every day. God has been working in my heart in huge ways just from the extra time spent together during long walks around my community.  If any of you are looking for prayer, please feel free to leave requests in the comment page or email me.  I'd consider it an honor to pray for you.  Not only does it keep me in touch with God, but it keeps me in touch with the realities of home.  I get a lot of "everything is good!" or other generalizations like that from people.  Get specific!  You're my friends and family, and I want to know what is REALLY going on with all of you.

So as I move on in this experience, I plan on trying to continue my waiting with a positive attitude--with hope.  Each new day brings new sunshine, new opportunities, and new mercy from God.  I hope you all see His blessings in your life daily, and come to trust His plan.  It's not easy, but I'm getting there! :D

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Where's Waldo?

It's a common question to ask people what celebrity they most resemble, or if they were to play a person in a movie, who would they play... I've never had a good answer for that question.  People have said I look like Harry Potter, which I think is ridiculous, and I've heard Peter Parker before, but I've never seen much of a resemblance. 

That is, until I made the final trip from Ña Lucina's house to my landlord's house, where I will be staying until I move into my house *hopefully* not long from now.  Over the last couple of months, I have managed to acquire things... way more things than I want.  But it's part of the territory.  You move somewhere for 2 years, you start to buy stuff.  So anyway, I threw my backpack on, wrapped my towel around my shoulders along with my big and bulky fan, grabbed a couple of grocery bags of stuff, my termo, and my sombrero and started across town.  I got a quick glimpse of myself in the mirror, and looked like the Paraguayan version of this:
Yikes.  Where's Waldo.  I loved all of those books as a child, but little did I know that I would follow in his steps, carrying all of my random crap all over the world leaving stuff places.  I haven't lost anything yet that I know of, but it makes you wonder if Waldo knew he was losing stuff either.  He wasn't looking for it in those books, the reader was.  But I guess I know what my next holloween costume will be.  

So yeah, I'm crossing my fingers that the move in will be at the end of the month.  My site presentation is the 27th, and my APCD is bringing all of my other luggage from the PC Office in Asuncion, so I'd like to be able to put it somewhere.  The house still needs electricity, and we need to fix part of the roof and add a window.  Once I get into my house, I feel like I'll be able to concentrate more on work.  I've been really stressed out for the last few weeks, as moving around means a lot of awkward silence every day because it's kind of impossible to get to know someone in one week, especially when you speak different languages.  

Once I have my own space, I can relax and enjoy this Peace Corps experience so much more easily.  Until then, I head to Asuncion (or "Brunchmo," as the predictive text on my phone wants to call it for some reason) tomorrow, and return here on Friday evening.  Busy week ahead!  Enjoy the cold at home... it's blistering hot here!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Rain, Coffee, and 1 Month Completed at Site!

Just taking some time to enjoy some coffee and the rain.  When it rains, everything stops and cools down. It´s amazing!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Elusive "Nde Guapo!"

There's one phrase every PCV wants to hear from their community.  Whether you're in Africa, Eastern Europe, or South America, you want to hear people saying you're hard working.  When in site, you know your language is terrible, you know you generally have no idea what is happening around you, you don't get to choose your food, etc etc etc... You just think to yourself "As long as they think I'm a hard worker, I'll survive this."

Up until today I hadn't heard how people viewed my work ethic.  I knew that I read a lot of books, sent a lot of text messages, and took some long naps.  This, of course, had me worried.  But today I FINALLY made it out into the field to do some kapi'i-ing (cleaning) in a cotton field, and then heard the phrase I'd been waiting 5 weeks to hear.  "Nde guapo!"  This phrase means something entirely different in Spanish, but in Guarani it means "you're a hard worker!"  Finally.

Some Paraguayans have the perception that getting up between 5 and 6 in the morning makes you guapo.  Others think that walking a lot, or studying a lot, means you're guapo.  In San Jose Boqueron, it has everything to do with physical labor.

Even as I was working along side two other people, I couldn't help but revert to my conventional large-scale agriculture line of thought and thought "What do you mean this isn't round-up ready?  Let's hop in that air-conditioned tractor and blast this kokue with some glyphosate!"  Haha, that is NOT how things work here.  In Paraguay, you grab a hoe, put on your sombrero (recently tied with string), hike out, and start chopping.  It was hard work, but well worth it for the result.

I spent the rest of the day talking with my contact and met up with Jose, the KOICA volunteer that works out of Ybycui that I think I mentioned in an earlier post.  The afternoon gave me a chance to practice both my Guarani and my Spanish.  Overall, a very productive day!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

I could really use a bike...

I have a bike coming at the end of the month when my Program Director comes for my site presentation, but until then, it's lots and lots of walking.  Here's the video update I promised!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Dang it Roger, we should have worked on my forearms

Back in May I decided I was going to make some life changes.  I stopped buying ELFudge cookies, started walking and running more, and hired a personal trainer at my gym.  I wanted to get in shape.  HA!  Now I eat chipa guasu and sopa paraguaya every day, often made with pig fat, and am onto my last hole in my belt.  I´m losing the weight, but I think it´s more muscle loss than anything... because all I eat is salt and fat.

Why should I have built up my forearms?  Because milking cows takes grip strength for long periods of time.  Grip strength that I don´t have.  I´m sure Ña Gregoria gets a kick out of watching me sweat, but man... milking cows is rough stuff, haha.  I´m such a weakling, it´s not even funny.  I´m looking forward to setting up my own mini-gym on my huge porch at my new house.  And who knows, RunBryceRun may make a come-back as a Paraguay edition!
Life has been pretty good for me so far this week.  I´ve been attempting to help milk the cows, and yesterday I even did a little cleaning near the house I will be living in for my service.  I´m hoping to be able to move in after my Site Presentation on the 27th.  The house is great!  It´s a wooden building on the side of a hill opposite the Cerro, right next to a banana field.

I´ll have space for a garden, but it´s right next to the house so I´ll need to do something about roof run-off.  I´m not so sure how practical a french drain would be in the Paraguayan campo, haha.  Any of you NRCSers have a suggestion?  As I type this, I´m actually in the electronic Field Office Tech Guide right now looking at the roof run-off spec, haha.  Ehhh... I´ll probably just built an eaves trough out of scrap metal.  Who ever would have thought someone would access the eFOTG from an internet cafe in South America?  My life is ridiculous.  I am definitely having a garden though... gotta eat my veggies!

Things are definitely improving here for me!  My language is still rough, but as I stay active and continue to meet people I am starting to feel more comfortable at site.  Going to Asuncion was good for me, I think.  Every once in a while I just need a couple of days to re-focus.  Hope all is well in the States!  Warm... from what I´m seeing through my facebook feed of WILX.  You people need to get some snow so you can start skiing (Sob!).

I promise to get a video done sometime in the next couple of weeks.  It´s been a long time since I gave you a face-to-face update!  Please notice that I´ve changed the address on the side bar to include my address for mailing things to Ybycui.  The PC Office one is still fine, but I don´t have to go all the way into Asuncion to pick up stuff sent to the new address.  My phone number is listed as well. If you have an iPhone, you can download the TextFree app, and then text me for free.  I don´t pay for received texts, so it´s a great way to communicate with me!  I get charged about 400 Gs for every text I send to the states... but I think that´s only about 10 cents off my saldo... I don´t know, we´ll see how this month goes with my phone, haha!

Also, I´ve continued to add new books to the book reviews page.  Lots of reading time for us PCVs!