Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas 2008

So, after over a week of 100+ degree weather I was thinking it might be a little hard to summon any ¨Christmas Spirit¨. Well, thanks to some rain that broke the heat last night and a quick trip to the Onion´s Cheap Toy Roundup ( I´m feeling a lot more festive. I´m in San Jose right now to pick up a fellow volunteer who´s going to spend Christmas with me and buy tons of fruit to make ¨clerico¨ aka really good whop that is the traditional Christmas drink. We´ll stay up until midnight tonight and celebrate Christ´s birth at the earliest possible hour in this time zone. Tomorrow, since we´re both vegetarians, we´ll avoid the Paraguayan tradition of eating tons of meat (something I´m not quite as down with as the alcoholic fruit salad). Merry Christmas to all!

Saturday, December 6, 2008


Día de Acción de Gracias

I recently went to a hotel in southern Paraguay (near Encarnacion) to celebrate Thanksgiving with over a hundred other Peace Corps volunteers. We stayed at the beautiful Hotel Tirol, a German run establishment nestled in forested hills, where we swam, ate, and talked English. The hotel is located only a few miles from the Jesuit ruin site Trinidad and I took the opportunity to check out the site with a group of friends one morning. If you haven´t yet seen the movie The Mission check it out and watch it. In the early 1700s the Jesuits organized the Guaraní people to build large reductions where they had shelter, were educated in Catholocism and were protected from the rampant slave traders. The use of native labor under a concentrated leadership actually proved to be an economically successful model that allowed 4000 people to live at the site called Trinidad. Jesuits were expelled from the Americas in 1767 and the reductions have since been deteriorating into their current state. Trindidad is actually a UNESCO World Heratige site; the grounds were remarkably well kept and we hired a very knowledgable guide to tell us about the site.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

One thousand Guraranies are currently worth about 22 cents and can buy you all kinds of fun things here in Paraguay. I spent part of a morning recently in the biggest almacen (neighborhood store) in my site photo documenting what can be purchased there for this amount. Enjoy.

A G Gs (1000 Guaranies)

Let´s start off with a little caña and coke- on the rocks! That´s right, you can buy a fifth of hard alcohol for a 1 mil Guarani coin here, it´s really only a little more expensive per volume than soda. The ice trade here is Paraguay is pretty lucrative with the heat. Five big bags of ice will set you back our price tag of 1000 Gs.

That´s right, folks- a pack of cigarettes for 22 cents. Follow up the taste of barely filtered, cheap tobacco with gum, cough drops- I mean candies, or mints.
Anyone need a quarter kilo of rice, sugar, flour or some anis or cumin? Of course you do!
I think this shot speaks for itself. . .

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Finding Balance

The heat is back!! Summer is pretty much upon us, with oppressive temperatures of 35 deg C regularly. I have been advancing nicely with my new radio program and working a lot with a woman´s group near my community. Work in the school is wrapping up as the end of the year approaches and my community is preoccupied with the harvest of sugar cane. I have been finding a nice balance lately between hanging out with Peace Corps friends and also making time for my non-PCV friends, be they Paraguayan, Argentinean, or other Americans.

After assisting with training of the next round of agroforestry volunteers on Monday I met up with some of my friends in Asuncion who took me to a nice Irish Pub that had a smooth jazz live act with a great vocalist. The next morning I got some work done in the office and headed back to site in time to facilitate a Participative Rural Assessment with some members of the woman´s group. I love being in my site but it´s important for me to realign myself with my more progressive friends so that I can feel like myself again.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Wall of Fame Additions

A special shout out to Elin Götmark and Darla Frobenius for their recent letters!!! Thanks so much!