Monday, June 25, 2012


It was a cold, damp night.  I was sitting in my usual chair watching Saturday Night Live, just like I do every Saturday night.  The popcorn had cooled off, and my coffee mug needed a refill.  I got up to put some water on the stove, and then I heard it.

The sound of snapping branches and slurping citrus.

Little did I know, but the chickens have convinced the cows to join their personal vendetta against me.  They must have some secret agreement to torture the Norte.  The chickens attack early in the morning and last for the afternoon, followed by a 2 hour cease-fire between 6 and 8PM, and then the cows start their assault in the dark.

I wouldn't mind if they were just eating the grass, but not only are the cows really loud eaters, they are destroying the kumanda yvyra'i by my house and constantly brushing up against my garden fence, which I spent (as you all know) a lot of time and effort on.  If they knock it over, believe me--it's on.  I will not hesitate to #StabACow. "Stabbing a cow" is a term we PCVs use to describe losing it or going crazy.  Our trainers told us a story in PST about a PCV that lost it because a cow kept eating her underwear off of her clothes line, so she stabbed and killed it, and then had to change sites.  In training I thought it was a crazy story... but now I totally get it.  I dream of it often, and it takes a good amount of self-control to keep myself from going after them with my machete.

War has become a routine for me.  In this seemingly endless battle against the Farm Animals, I am constantly forced to remind myself what I am fighting for.  What that is... well, it has yet to be identified.  Sanity?  If anyone has any ideas let me know.

Monday, June 11, 2012

10 Bad Habits Picked Up By Peace Corps Volunteers

I'm pretty sure this video says it all.  I highly doubt much of this is Paraguay-specific.  I would be willing to bet that PCVs all over the world develop these same habits.

On a happy note, it's warm today, so I'm actually going to bathe, wash my hair... you know, things that normal people do.  It's been... 5 days.  Yeesh... Not a proud number for me to put out there.

But it's been so cold!!  I haven't even wanted to dunk my hands into water to do dishes, let alone pour a bucket over my head.  But today, and maybe even tomorrow, I'll take care of that problem, haha.  It's supposed to be mid-70s all week, so who knows?  It might actually feel good!

Thanks to my friends Maggie, Emily, and Kristen for their ideas to complete this video.  They all have blogs that I've linked to on the right, but only two of them update regularly.  Emily!  Your mom says to update your blog! =D 

Friday, June 8, 2012

Winter has arrived...

Remember how I always complained during the summer that it felt like I was living in hell because it was 115F outside and everything I touched was hot?  Well, that's certainly not a problem anymore... Winter is here!  And now I'm forced to dress like this at night:
Ok, not really.  But it gets very, very cold.  I'm certainly not complaining though.  The cold weather means wearing clothes longer without sweating, which means less laundry.   It means less bathing, also, which probably shouldn't be a plus... But it means like two less trips up the hill with buckets to get water.

The weather change has slowed me down a bit though.  I've acquired the gripe, or a cold, that I can't seem to shake.  I mentioned it to one of my senoras, Nora, that I wasn't feeling great and she provided me with some jujos to make a remedio, which I talk about in this video:

It did the job, if only for that evening.  I might have to see if I can find more malva and I'm pretty sure I have a guayava tree in my yard.  Between all the mate, hot cider, hot chocolate, and coffee I'm drinking, I'm definitely staying well-hydrated!

Things are coming along with my demo-plot.   I've worked with Luis for a few hours the last couple of days on clearing out a small portion of the field.  I wish I had a brush-hog!  Sometimes I really miss modern technology!
So far we've had nothing but shovels to remove all this brush
Luis and I are going to try to use a rolo-cuchillo on Monday to cut down what we can't get with a shovel.  Honestly, I'm not sure what a rolo-cuchillo is, or how it works, but it will be interesting to see.  A cuchillo is a knife, so it must be some kind of rolling knife thing... I don't know if I'm going to have to pull it or if we can get a cow to do it.  Luis is the 19 year-old son of my community contact that went with me to the Peace Corps sponsored workshop on Permaculture and Climate Change.  He's excited to put some of the permaculture techniques that we discussed into practice in the demo-plot.   I'm just excited to have someone to work with!

Other than being sick and working on the demo-plot, I don't have that much else going on right now.  Things in the garden are looking pretty feo... I have to figure out what is wrong.  I would post a picture, but it's really ugly.  I think it's just bad soil.  My friends Elijah and Maggie are coming to my site next Thursday, and I'm going to rely on Elijah's expert gardening knowledge to help me out.  I do currently have my worm bin completed (I'll  do a video about that for my next blog), as well as two compost piles, so I'm well on my way to recuperating my soil!

I had a great birthday celebration in Asuncion.  I'll  probably do a blog on that later in the week.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Permaculture, my birthday, and some salmon.

Hi friends!  It's already June!  A lot has happened since my last blog post, but I ran out of saldo earlier this month and due to some traveling I didn't have a chance to spend time in Ybycui to write a blog post.  But with the new month comes a new load of saldo.  Huzzah!

A couple of weeks ago I took one of my friends from site with me to a permaculture workshop in Villarrica.  It was a great day of learning about climate change in Paraguay and its potential impact on agricultural systems.  My friend, who is going to be helping with my demoplot starting this week, is very excited about all of the things he learned.  I'm hoping that we will be able to work together to use this demoplot to show my community examples of conservation practices like mulching, cover crops, crop rotation, and companion plantings. 

I'm really excited to get  back into the agricultural side of my work.  I got so used to talking about all of these conservation practices with farmers when I worked for USDA-NRCS, and it's crazy to me that the only real agricultural work I've done in the last 8 months (!!!!) is put together my garden, which sadly is pretty hideous right now.  The soil is in desperate need of some help, so I'm not sure how much produce I'm going to get from it this time around.  Maybe with some heavy composting and mulching I'll get my seedbeds to something more productive.

I've been in Asuncion since Thursday.  I came in to discuss my plan of work with my program director and to get some worms for my worm box.  I also turned 26 last Wednesday, so I've spent kind of a long weekend celebrating with my friends.  Last night we went to a really spiffy Spanish restaurant and I ordered some salmon.  It was expensive, but totally worth it!  I also got to take my jeans to a lavaderia and have them washed and dried (with a clothes dryer!!!), which was incredible.  Campo-clean is definitely not washing machine-clean, so it's definitely a treat to get my clothes actually clean for once, haha.

This coming week I'll be working on my demoplot.  I don't really have much else planned, but things pop up out of no where pretty often, so you never know what else could happen.  Have a great week!