by Kristen Brenneman
In addition to braving the Chaco, Mike and I spent a number of relaxing days visiting Allison and Isaiah at their house in the small, southern town that they’ve called home for the past 12 months. My daughter the delegator asked if I’d like to write up what I thought of the town.
Hence, here are this mom’s initial impressions of Yuty, Paraguay.
– Red clay streets.
– Accessibility to walk to the outskirts of town in each direction to enjoy the beauty of the countryside.
– Motos, motos everywhere.
– Colorful chickens enjoying the freedom of the yards, unpenned and able to roam freely.
– Each house seemed to have at least one dog, if not three or four.
– A little despensa on almost every street, conveniently selling the necessities.
– A well-cared for center of town with lawn, flowers, sidewalks and the Catholic church.
– Not many sidewalks overall – we just strolled down the road.
– Friendly people who seemed so happy and honored to meet Allison’s parents.
– Driving in the countryside on dirt roads, always yielding to the cows, goats or sheep that wandered freely.
– Enjoying the little town that was settled by the Japanese and seeing that culture mix with the Paraguayan’s way of life.
– Stopping at the little town of Yataity where beautiful embroidered clothes (ao po’i) or lacy crochet (ñanduti) are made.
– Pausing to enjoy the traditional foods of chipa, sopa paraguaya, empanadas or fresh fruit drinks but then also sharing the cinnamon rolls I baked with friends of Allison and Isaiah.
– Picking up wooden crates at the despensa to turn into functional and unique end tables.
– Hanging pictures of family and friends of the Goertzes, adding a familiarity and coziness to their home.
– Realizing that you really don’t need so many things to live a happy and contented life.
– Watching Allison and Isaiah relate with the children at the comedor by playing frisbee or soccer, planning a craft activity or just chatting, knowing that this attention (along with the wholesome food the kids receive) is valuable and life-giving.
– Seeing Allison and Isaiah interact with neighbors, store owners and many others in Yuty with such friendliness and ease, knowing that at least in this little part of the world North Americans must be thought of as friendly, helpful and respectful.
– Watching Allison and Isaiah throw in phrases in Guaraní, the very difficult language ‘of the people’ which just lights up people’s faces and warms the heart.
Even though it is not always easy for a mom to have her children so far away, unable to see them for over a year at a time, this mom realizes that it is important and really remarkable work that Allison and Isaiah are doing. I’m so happy we had the chance to travel to South America and take part in the experience they are having. It is something that will shape them in whatever comes after their time in the Peace Corps and likely for the rest of their lives.