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Saturday, March 27, 2004

so the computer keeps freezing so i dont know if anything is going to post or not.

my news:
#1 I have giardia. Sucks. Google it for more info. and pray that I dont have to go to the hospital on Monday. Im way afraid of Paraguayan hospitals.

#2 I find out my future site on Monday. SO EXCITED.

#3 I learned how to plant and transplant trees this week.

#4 I got three packages today. Best day ever.
So its official. I have giardia.
Lets just say that sucks. Its a parasite you get from drinking contaminated water. I drank from all those uncovered wells during my field practice. So yeah...
If Im not better by Monday I get to experience first hand a hospital in a third world country. Im not too excited about that idea. I stayed in bed for over 36 hours and I still cant eat anything but white rice, bread and bananas. But Im having this huge surprise party for my good friend Brennans birthday tonight so even though I cant drink or eat anything...come hell or more diarrhea, Ill be there.

I find out my future site on Monday...how exciting!! Im nervous and I cannot wait. Ill try to write immediately to let everyone know the details.

Saturday, March 20, 2004

I have all kinds of adventures to tell you guys about today...

So this past week was "Practica Larga" which means I went with 5 other trainees to practice some of the stuff we have been learning. We went to the site of a volunteer whos been here for just over a year. I lived with a host family there (about 2 hours from where I currently live) they were great! But I finally got a taste of real Paraguayan life...outside of the palace that I now live in. Heres some highlights for you...

*no running water for 5 days...I learned to draw water out of a well (8 times a day) I learned how to take a bucket bath. Outdoors. With freezing well water (i could have boiled it but thats a pain too) Its actually not that bad...with a big bucket I can even shampoo my hair. One time a little chick tried to wander into my bath though.
I didnt get sick from drinking the well water thank god...it isnt a covered well unfortunately which means rain water, leaves, dirt, and whatever falls in...and chicken poop too because they climb onto the well all the time.
*I built a fogon...its a wood burning oven constructed of bricks with a stove on top too. It was pretty amazing to actually make something and the family I made it for was sooo happy. They made yummy corn bread on it the next day. Did I mention that the mix that holds the brick together I made out of dirt, sand and cow manure. Let me just say that my work clothes are still soaking in soap as we speak. And I have almost gotten the cow shit out from under my fingernails four days later. Almost.
*We also built a latrine. We dug a hole 2 meters deep. In red clay. Lets just say that I hope that none of you ever have to dig 2 meters in red clay in the hot sun ever. We built the latrine for a family with 9 children. They were so cute. But it was sad too.
*Whenever I used the latrine at my host familys house one of the cows would stand next to it and watch me. That was a little weird. And the baby brown pig kept coming into my room. And a little chick jumped onto my bed once.
*A couple of us went to the school and did some skits and songs about dental health...it was a lot of fun, the kids were so into it.
*My friend Brennan and I did a home visit "teaching" thing at a house where they like only spoke Guarani...that was interesting to say the least. They understood us mostly but would respond in Guarani. It was actually pretty funny.

I think thats about it...I had a great time. The stars were even more amazing out there. And I saw two shooting stars. And I cannot even begin to describe how amazing the sunrises are here. Yes, thats right. The sunrises. Never thought I would see so many in my life but people wake up early here. And so do I. I have today and tomorrow free, but I still woke up this morning at 8 and washed all my clothes by hand. Its only been 4 hours and they are all pretty much dry. Yep. Its still hot here.
Tonight Im going to Guazu Cora for a friends birthday party. Tomorrow I have to prep for a presentation Im giving Tuesday (in Spanish) about religion in Paraguay and I have to fill out my site preference form. Not that I have a ton of preferences but theyre assigning us our sites in about 10 days. Crazy how fast time has gone. It will be sad to leave training, Ive made such great friends. But I am excited to start working. I kinda hope my site has running water...is that spoiled of me? Oh well...I love agua corriente...

I will keep you posted...Im going to go try to get some more cow shit out from under my nails. Can you believe it... But then Im going for a pedicure. Brennans aunt here does them for less than $1 USD. Her tools are probably pretty unsanitary, but hey...its Paraguay.

Friday, March 12, 2004

Sorry its been awhile but all is good.
Its cooling down here...this morning I was reading the newspaper and the forecast said only like 86 degrees today...yes, that is cool.

You guys would be proud. I built a losa. A losa is the cement floor of a latrine. I myself built the brick frame, made a metal grid, mixed cement with sand, water and rocks to make concrete and smoothed it all into a losa. Seriously. It was so much fun. I have found my calling. Four years at the University of Michigan and I want to work construction. My group thinks its hilarious that Im so into the physical labor stuff. The boys in the actual latrine-fogon construction sector keep telling me that theyre going to have me help them at their sites.

A toad peed on me the other day. It was my fault though. I picked him up.

I think that you some of you guys have a pretty bleak image of my current life. I have a real shower (they dont use shower curtains here though and the whole bathroom gets wet) i even have heated water. i have a real toilet. i have a real gas stove. i have a real refrigerator. i have a four bedroom house with tiled floors and a couch in the living room. and a queen sized bed. no, it doesnt look american. the house is HUGE in my community. but everything is old and kinda not in great shape. but i am NOT living in poverty at all. my family does very very well for rural paraguay. some of my friends are not as lucky in their host families but they will be much more prepared for real peace corps life.

speaking of real peace corps life, this monday we are going out into the campo to live for one week. they separated my group in half, my group of 7 is living in the community of an actual volunteer about 3 hours from here. we will build 2 latrines (yay) and 4 fogons (wood burning ovens with chimineys and stovetops for outdoor cooking) we will do a dental health lesson in the local elementary school and attend a womens group meeting. we will each live in a household. thats the scary part. im so used to my family here and being so spoiled and comfortable. well im not super comfortable, but they speak spanish (not just guarani) and i have a hot shower. im excited though.

what else? lets see...im having a huge party at my house tomorrow night for all 48 of us for St. Paddys Day (tried to explain THAT holiday to the folks here...didnt go well...) I had a party last weekend and it was super fun, so this week I invited everyone to come and spend the night too. Peace Corps found out, theyre not too happy but oh well. They feel that its not culturally acceptable for coed sleepovers and we are sending bad messages or whatever, which hell, thats true. but you know what...we are doing it anyway. we did it last weekend and my family is totally fine with it, THEY suggested that everyone sleep at our house this time. Not that theres much of a choice. the buses stop running after like 9 pm out of our town. itll be way fun again. cant wait. feel like im a freshman in the dorms again. also feel like im in 10th grade again and the neighbors found out about the party im throwing while my parents are out of town and are threatening to tell. ugh.

my language interview went well. apparently they feel i should move on to total guarani training. ummm...no thank you. my spanish is so not sufficient. i can communicate but conversing like a normal 22 year old would be nice....but that will come.

i am covered in bites. ants are the bane of my existence here. who knew that ants could bite so viciously?

im going shopping tomorrow after class. ive saved up some of my salary (if you can call it that) a couple of us are going to San Lorenzo (near Asuncion) i want some new flip flops (pretty ones) and cool earrings and some bootleg CDs for the party and maybe a cool ass leather bag everyone carries here.

i had mashed potatoes today. my mom made them...but they were so not nearly enough like grannys. i guess theyll do though. at least the meat wasnt scary today. its usually not too bad...but sometimes im not sure if im hungry once i see my plate.

i gave my big presentation about reproductive health. it went really well. today i gave a short presentation in spanish to the community about composting and disposal of organic and inorganic waste. people burn EVERYTHING here. plastic burning smells so bad and must be so horrible for the ozone layer but they do it anyway. and EVERYONE just throws their trash onto the street. we taught them how to turn old wine bottles into drinking glasses. all you need is the bottle, some tape, some twine and a bucket of ice water. pretty rad.

i decided against getting the monkey...I promise Granny. Just a parrot and maybe a dog.

I lost my favorite earring last week at my party. So sad. It was the pretty chandalier one that Angela bought me (you have the identical pair ACB) I should have brought more of my jewelry here. I miss it.

We heard about the terrorist attacks in Spain.

We went to the American embassy in Asuncion this week. Met some of the staff. Listened to boring speeches. I forgot my passport ID stuff at home and they still let me in because enough people vouched that I was American. Which was nice, but doesnt make one feel all too safe.

Send more letters! It takes forever for them to get here so just write even if you havent heard back from me yet! I want to hear from you guys!

Jajotopata!

Monday, March 01, 2004

I feel that I should thank all you taxpayers for giving me this opportunity.

Last night was WILD...I will not post details seeing as how mi familia reads this as well but I'll be sure to send some emails...

I soooo don't want to go back to the campo today. We had the best three day weekend ever.


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