Who can believe we’ve lived in Paraguay for 5 months already? It makes our 27-month commitment seem completely doable. So in honor of this milestone I’ve identified 5 lessons I’ve already learned – or at least am currently learning as these things take time, right?
Lesson #1: Rain Happens
Even the best made plans can be washed away by a burst of rain. Traveling across the rivers that form along all our dirt roads is tricky so more often than not the event is cancelled. I can cry or pout or vent that it’s not even that bad out, but asi es. The end result doesn’t change just as I’ve never heard of an umpire changing a call if the coach yells loud enough from the dugout. I’ve learned to admit disappointment but save the tears and instead get on with whatever activity I now have time for like reading a good book or strategically placing buckets under the various leaks in our roof.
Lesson #2: Life Goes On
What an exciting new thing it’s been for me to throw on some clothes (easy when there’s not much to choose from), forgo the makeup and jewelry, and let my hair dry naturally. I can shower and get ready in under 15 minutes and believe it or not, the world hasn’t stopped spinning. I still enjoy fancy-ing up for special occasions or when the mood strikes but it’s not an everyday thing. That’s a big change from the girl who hesitated getting LASIK eye surgery in fear of showing a makeup free face for a week post-operation.
Lesson #3: Nothing’s Too Insignificant for a List
As Peace Corps Volunteers we are 100% in charge of scheduling our time. This can be exciting, freeing and downright difficult. After floating around freestyle for a while when we first arrived in site, Isaiah and I now use the List of Goals method which has helped give us a focus us and hold each other accountable. Each week we list out all the things we’d like to accomplish in the next 7 days. There’s a column for each of us and a third column for both of us for tasks we need to work on together or that either of us can do.
Each day we select from the week’s list what we plan to accomplish that day. If something is urgent or top priority it can even get an *! Tasks get crossed off as they are completed and at the end of the day the remaining untouched items get circled. The disappointment of a circle is enough punishment to have me vowing to prioritize The List the following day. Our list includes important projects like planning for our site presentation to seemingly obvious tasks like showering. (Yes, that really has appeared on my list a time or two.) Nothing is too small especially on those days you need the satisfaction of drawing that dark line through your big (or small) accomplishment.
Lesson #4: Soap Matters
Incabril Ultra (the Ultra is the important part) is the only dish soap worth buying here in Paraguay. Although it’s more expensive than even the bigger bottles, it actually works. It cuts through grease and is majorly concentrated so you just need a drop to get the job done. We’ve used our bottle for weeks already so you can see it’ll last a good while and even makes the task of dish washing a little bit fun.
Lesson #5: The Grass Is Greener Where You Water
This one hasn’t quite soaked through to the core of my being yet, but the idea is familiar: I’m in control (ooo, I like the sound of that) of my outlook on situations and where I choose to use my energy. The moments I spend thinking about the comfy life I had stateside, or the someday house we can settle down in, or the stylish (and eco-conscious) clothes and shoes and kitchen gadgets and building materials that my mature future self will surely buy (so I better research them all now!) can take me away from watering my plot here in Paraguay.
It can take me away from deepening relationships locally, gaining confidence in Spanish, being happy with all the time I get to spend with Isaiah, the new foods we get to taste and even the new challenges we get to face and overcome. Planning and dreaming are great and I’d never want to stop them completely but I’m constantly noticing the benefits of enjoying the here and the now, watering the current moment and then standing back to marvel at the brilliantly green grass all around me.
What lessons are you learning these days? Any of mine sound familiar? Do you have a go-to soap that blows other brands outta the dish water? Any other LASIK survivors out there? Best decision ever!