How can it be that we’re down to 10 months left in Paraguay? Weren’t we just reflecting on our 1-year anniversary of living here? We are in a very good place right now, fully enjoying our lives in Paraguay. We know we need to really take advantage of our remaining months here, because it’s going to keep flying by. At the same time, it’s fun to think about returning to our USA families and friends when the time comes too. 10 more months feels just about right.
Let’s get to our reflections on this stage of our Peace Corps game.
1. Filling my time these days is…
Allison: work and play. Some of my work projects include: being the project coordinator for the national entrepreneurship initiative (Paraguay Emprende), doing finances for the Girls Leading Our World camp, travel project at the soup kitchen as well as on their steering committee, teaching a self-esteem / life planning type class at the high school, and prepping to begin a family finance course on Tuesday. And for play, we host dinner parties and cookouts, shop at the local veggie market, play corn hole in the back yard, and enjoy mate while it’s still cool because I know summer is just around the corner.
Isaiah: most recently, drinking mate & relaxing. Many projects we had been working on came to a head in July, and since then we’ve been wrapping up from the events, reflecting and preparing for the next projects. In the meantime we’re doing some globetrotting with kids from the soup kitchen (via books), hanging out with friends (& family), and I’m enjoying my little web project (though it’s in need of some more work!).
2. The strangest thing lately is…
A: it’s already October?!
I: the weather. It has been so nice and cool, albeit overcast and rainy sometimes. I’m just dreading the impending hot and humid summer.
3. My favorite yuyos at the moment are…
Yuyos are herbs that you can add to the water or the yerba (tea-like leaves) of mate (hot tea-like drink) or tereré (cold tea-like drink) to both give it a nice flavor and help with different ailments (digestion, cholesterol, etc.).
A: Anise and coconut on top of yerba for my mate. Oh and a little ka’a he’e too, which is the dried leaf version of stevia, a natural sweetener that hails from Paraguay.
I: Katuava and siempre vive. Katuava (also spelled Catuaba) give you a little extra pep and siempre vive is a flower that, well, that one just looks pretty in my mate.
4. What I’d miss most if I hopped on a moto* today is…
(*The Peace Corps has a few rules that are very rigid. One is no riding on motorcycles because they are practically the leading cause of death here. If you choose to ride one, you have one choice: aisle or window on the next plane outta here.)
A: Choosing exactly how I spend my time. If a project isn’t up my alley, I politely pass and instead create a project I love working on. What freedom!
I: Ditto what my lovely and smart wife said.
5. My current comida tipica (traditional Paraguayan food) obsession is…
A: sopa paraguaya. I’m back to loving this. It’s like cornbread (but not the sweet kind) with onions in it.
I: asadito. What’s not to love about meat on a stick!
6. And my favorite Guarani phrase of the week is…
A: cheryguatama. (shay ruh gwa TAH mah) which means, “whew, I’m full!”
I: che ra’a (shay rah ah) the equivalent of “dude” as in, “what’s happening, dude?” Okay, now that translation sounds dated but it gives you the basic idea. It makes you sound very Paraguayan when you slap that on the end of whatever you say.
7. Paraguayans say the darndest things…
A: like taking things to the extreme. Instead of saying the weather’s feo (bad/ugly) they’ll say it’s feísimo which is like super bad. -ísimo at the end of a Spanish word makes it a superlative; it takes that word to the extreme. So food isn’t just rica, it’s riquisima (super delicious). Things are grandísimo, buenísimo, lindísimo (huge, great, super pretty). I can get swept up in this way of speaking until Isaiah reminds me I’m using the extremes extremely too often.
I: Isaías. Isaías. Isaías! It’s so fun to walk around town and hear this little voice calling your name from somewhere until it elites upon a beaming face of a child from the soup kitchen trying to get my attention to give me a friendly wave.
8. The MVP (Most Valuable Paraguayan) Award goes to…
I: The cooks at the soup kitchen Ña Alba and Ña Maxima. Rain or shine they come to the soup kitchen every Monday/Wednesday/Saturday to prepare lunch for the kids even though they don’t receive much in compensation. My wonderful in-laws hooked them up with some nice Menards shirts during their recent visit.
A: Yeah, ditto what Isaías. Isaías. Isaías! said. And mini lesson for you: Ña before a name is a sign of respect. It’s short for Doña and means Mrs.
9. What I wouldn’t give for a…
A: I’d still love a bubble bath. Or a trip to the States to see my two best friends and their growing baby bellies! (I know, right?!)
I: I don’t know. I’m feeling pretty content at the moment. I think I need to watch some more commercials. Well wait, that’s not true. It’d be awesome to have a fully stocked grocery store full of fresh veggies and herbs (or farmer’s market or what have ya).
10. Most likely to be published in a Peace Corps brochure is when…
A: our friends and community here immediately loved and accepted my parents when they were visiting. Sometimes little friends at the soup kitchen still ask when they’re coming back.
I: No specific story comes to mind at the moment. But these days when we walk down the street after having lived in our little community for over a year, and we almost surely encounter a friendly face or two that we know which makes us feel more and more like we’re part of the community.
11. Coming up next…
A: My current projects will continue. I will finally start a women’s group. (I will.) We will plan more fundraisers for the soup kitchen. Isaiah turns 30 in November! And we’re doing a little research on possible nearby Christmas vacation destinations.
I: I’m the new editor for the Paraguay Peace Corps Volunteer magazine and it will be fun to work on and publish this next issue in December. We’re also starting some family finance courses next week and I hope to teach a graphic design course too.