Saturday, April 18, 2009

ha upei

mama hilda left yesterday morning for ciudad del este, so my host brothers arturo and jorgito were left to take care of themselves.

last night, i couldnt hold in my disbelief as arturo invited me to the dinner table. he had prepared a typical paraguayan dish, and it was actually super rico.

two years ago when i arrived to site, he was a typical machismo paraguayan man. not because he meant to be, but mostly because of stereotypical gender roles. he worked out in the field, sometimes in construction, but had no idea how to wash clothes or cook. being the youngest son left in the house, his mother always took care of him and spoiled him.

a few weeks ago, he proposed to his girlfriend. last night at dinner, when i asked him if he was going to help her out in the house, he replied, "of course. we are going to do everything together. im not going to leave her to wash my clothes and cook my meals."

as americans, many of us enter peace corps thinking that we are going to change things in a big way. open libraries. health posts. bring running water and brick ovens. change the lives of hundreds of people and leave our service feeling like gods.

but the truth is, many of us have sat around for the past two years, struggling to get out of bed every day. trying to find work, or at least something to make the day go faster. we have applied for project funding and been rejected, hid in our houses on rainy days, and spent the thousands of hours doing nothing but visiting with the people.

some of us feel like failures, but im starting to realize that all of the hours of visiting does eventually amount to something. we just need to accept that as success.

for two years, i watched teo interact with the people in my site. he washed my clothes and cooked my meals, as my neighbors and host families watched from afar. he played with the kids, and taught them how to say please and thank you. he reminded them to brush their teeth, and scolded them when they threw their trash on the ground. he pulled them aside when they were naughty, and explained to them why they couldnt act that way.

i dont know if he realizes how much hes accomplished during his service in paraguay, but i will always be proud of him. some men in my community are starting to copy his behaviors. they help out at home. they dont hit their kids when they are naughty. they try to spend more time playing with their children, and support their wives decisions to go back to school. they want their wives to become more educated....

now all we can do is hope that this behavior continues and multiplies....

and thats all i have left to write.

thank you for reading my blog for the past two years.

ill see you on the 5th of may.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

locura automatica

although we did have an amazing time on our trip to patagonia, i must say, i am relieved to be back in paraguay.

as we sat around in hostels chatting with extensive travelers, i had an ongoing sense of discomfort. i thought that i would be ok with staying in hostels, cooking and sharing rooms with complete strangers. living out of a backpack. having two outfits to wear, and always feeling dirty. i thought that i wouldnt feel awkward, especially since its been over two years since ive had a home.

and then i realized the cause of my discontent.

i missed paraguay. i missed having the kids annoy me every 20 minutes. i missed drinking mate in the morning with teo. argentinian yerba sucks. i missed my peace corps friends. talking on the phone for hours on rainy days. sitting in my hammock and eating popcorn with cecilia.

i had already gotten used to missing my life back in the states, but for the first time, i missed my life in paraguay. i guess i never realized how comfortable ive become with the lifestyle and the people, and now im sad that i only have two months left. im afraid that after i go back to the states, i will miss my paraguayan life.

my host brother is getting married in may. everyone is coming home from buenos aires for the wedding and i wont be around for it. sad day.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

emmie and romy

as dumb as it sounds, im still surprised when paraguayans ask me where i learned to dance.... or why i know how to swim.... where i learned karate....

i just forget how priviledged we are in the states.

i feel guilty about taking things for granted. as a child, i didnt realize how lucky i was when my parents dropped me off at ballet classes. i whined and whined about not wanting to go, and i never stopped to think about the sacrifices that my parents were making for me.

every night, my parents fed me dinner then sent me off to ballet. karate. swim lessons. piano. girl scouts. they bought my uniforms and costumes. bathing suits and goggles. leotard after leotard so that i could always have something pretty to wear. they always made sure they were home from work so that they could feed me and get me to class on time.

.... and now, i think of my parents every time paraguayans ask my why im not scared to get in the water and swim. paraguayans smile when i play the guitar and sing, and they ask me where i learned to play. they ask me to teach dance classes, and want me to share everything that i know how to do.

and i have my parents to thank.

i love you mom and dad.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

año nuevo

im sick and staying at the chaco with nothing to do.... gonna fill out this fancy quiz that i stole from kate and william....

1. What did you do in 2008 that you’d never done before?
get married, not wash my hands for over 24 hours

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
i typically hate resolutions, but i promised my suegra that this year i would work on not taking things personally

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
holy balls. people back home are pushing out babies like crazy

4. Did anyone close to you die?

5. What countries did you visit?
united states, argentina

6. What would you like to have in 2009 that you lacked in 2008?
air conditioning, a job with more structure and higher productivity, hot water

7. What dates from 2008 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
27 de september- kinda got married, wicked good time, many people fell into trash pits

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
cecilia brushes her teeth regularly, kati yells at people for littering, people in my site use condoms.... all of the small changes add up:)

9. What was your biggest failure?
getting rejected by the municipalidad for fogon project funding

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
i was probably sick for 90% of 2008

11. What was the best thing you bought?
spandex pants

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
teo- because he lives in a shack with no water and no bathroom

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
im not quite sure.... i have no idea whats going on in the states, and life down here is tranquilopa:)

14. Where did most of your money go?
pretty jewelry in buenos aires, wedding stuff

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
juice hour, wedding, booking travel plans to patagonia

16. What song will always remind you of 2008?
better than ezra- king of new orleans

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
a) happier or sadder? happier. much happier.
b) thinner or fatter? fatter.... i think i had giardia or some stomach thing last december
c) richer or poorer? ha ha ha ha. i have $1.00

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
studying, keeping up with the news back home

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
following mate with terere and thinking that i wouldnt get sick

20. How did you spend Christmas?
with the liboons

21. Did you fall in love in 2008?
kinda a lot

22. What was your favorite TV program?

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
probably not. everyone has kinda grown on me, even if i didnt like them when we first got to paraguay

24. What was the best book you read?
still life with woodpecker

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?
locura automatica

26. What did you want and get?
liboon family vacation, my parents and sibling coming to paraguay to see my site and meet my host family

27. What did you want and not get?
koi sunglasses, world peace

28. What was your favorite film of this year?

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
i turned 28.... hung out at the chaco?

30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
nothing. im content

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2008?
i officially look like a campo señora, complete with spandex, faded tank tops, and no make-up

32. What kept you sane?
juice hour, cecilia, teo

33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
neal patrick harris on how i met your mother

34. What political issue stirred you the most?
prop 8

35. Who did you miss?
best friends from the dub, liboons, derdoskis, former labmates

36. Who was the best new person you met?

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2008.
making time for people that you care about isnt as difficult or time consuming as people in the states make it out to be

38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
its the end of the world as we know it

Friday, December 26, 2008



we just booked our flight to ushuaia, and we will be leaving on february 2. 18 hour bus ride to buenos aires, then a 4 hour flight to ushuaia.

.... and we are taking a bus from ushuaia back to paraguay. 30 hours from ushuaia to bariloche, 18 hours from bariloche to buenos aires, and 18 hours from buenos aires to paraguay.

che paraguay

4 months. 4 months. ill be home in 4 months.


ok, so maybe i wont be home in exactly 4 months, but ill be done with service!! teo and i might travel for a bit afterwards, but we will be home for sure some time in may.

hooray hooray. kinda sad to leave my host family and community, but i miss my family and friends back home.

i feel like the next 4 months should pass rather quickly. my family from buenos aires is coming to visit in january to celebrate mama hildas birthday, i have a three day vacation at a chuchi resort for my close of service conference, and theres also a huge fiesta in caazapa, the pueblo near my site. teo and i are planning a trip to bariloche, el calafate y ushuaia in february. i plan on staying in site for march and april.... AND THEN IM DONE.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

the other teodoro

"do you believe in God?" he asked me.

"what?" i replied, somewhat surprised by his question.

"do you believe in God?" he repeated again, then sat back at waited for my answer.

it was four o'clock in the morning, and we were drinking mate on his front porch. teodoro, brother-in-law of my paraguayan best friend, and i sat around waiting for ana to pack her things so that we could get to the airport before six o'clock. normally, i wouldnt have tolerated such tomfoolery and woken up so early to straighten her hair and lend her my mascara.... but seeing as how my hopeless romantic side still lives on, i couldnt say no to ana when she asked me to accompany her to the airport.

i sat back and thought about my answer. well yes, of course i believe, but i was just surprised that he even asked. hes an older, gray haired paraguayan man, that i assumed would be more on the conservative side and try to push religion on me had i answered no to his question.

"yes," i answered. "in fact, i was raised Catholic, and although i am not the best practicing Catholic, i still believe in God and feel verguenza when i do, or contemplate doing, something that i am not supposed to. i try to follow the rules."

"pero, te casaste con un hombre, y tu marido no es Catolico, verdad?" he said, looking at me like i should give him a really good answer for this one.

yes yes, i know that teo is not Catholic, but that he still believes in God i explained. we dont share the same religion, and thats why we were not allowed to have our ceremony in the community oratorio. thats why we had to have an outdoor wedding, although we were told that we should just lie so that we could have a more formal ceremony in the oratorio/iglesia. we didnt want to start our marriage with a lie, we love and accept each other regardless of religion, and we didnt want to lie just to please the members of my community.

"i know," he told me. "i heard about what happened to the two of you, and how you werent allowed en la iglesia. your host mom told me about the difference in religion, and that your husband is a good man. he loves you and is faithful, and the two of you work together and travel for hours to see each other."

and then he told me something that i will never forget.

he told me that teo and i are exactly what the people here need to see. in a world full of religious wars, and people fighting over something indefinite, people need to see that we can accept each other. we can love others that have different beliefs, and that all we need to do is respect each others. he didnt understand why that was so hard for the world to understand.

he told me that people like teo and i end wars. we bring peace. we work to teach about equality and working together, all for the betterment of humanity.

and ive been teary eyed ever since.

its been bugging me all day, mostly because i dont think that i deserve the kind things that he said to me. im shocked, because its the nicest thing that any paraguayan has ever said to me. not gonna lie, for the past few months ive just been tired. tired of hearing the same conversations about the weather, problems about the economy, how hard life is in paraguay and how poor they are, strangers questioning how much guarani i understand, children harassing me and not understanding that i am not a small child that can always play UNO and climb trees with them, people on the street asking for money, wondering if ive actually accomplished anything during my service, waiting for money from the municipalidad to fund the fogon project, worrying about whether or not i will find a job when i get back to the states, people telling me i should come home already, trying to convince myself that i am ready to go home, having a long distance marriage, running low on money, 110 degree weather with no air conditioning, dehydration, diarrhea and vomiting from dehydration, ragged clothes and ugly hair....

so yes. regardless of whether or not i deserved what teodoro said, i appreciated it.