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Monday, April 26, 2004

So you can now address mail to me to PCV Jennifer Pearson...I am no longer a trainee. If anyone ever decides to write me...

We had a ceremony at the Embassy with the ambassador and swore in. I swore that I would uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States. I figure I'll try but my first goal is to avoid latrines with wooden floors and my second is to not get malaria...after that we'll see about the Constitution.

You can now call me in Paraguay!! How exciting! I bought my cell phone. Go figure...I have a Nokia but no toilet. I believe that from the U.S. you dial
011 595 981 532 421
its free for me to receive calls and text messages...its probably pretty pricey for you to call me, but you know I'm worth it.

I'm heading out to my new home tomorrow. We've been partying in a hotel in Asuncion for the past three nights. Its been so much fun but people are starting to leave today. I'm not gonna lie...I'm terrified. Spanish 24/7 starting tomorrow. Not to mention Guarani which still is gibberish to me overall. And I still haven't found out if I get my fancy house or not. But either way I have to live with a family or families for 2 months. Its still really overwhelming and everyone says that the first three months are rough. You're bored. You don't speak really well yet. You're living with a family minus privacy. You can't cook for yourself. You have no work to do. You don't have friends in the community yet. You run out of books to read. You're in bed by 8pm. Sounds exciting huh? I'm so excited though...I'll just miss my friends alot but that's why we all buy cell phones and text message each other all day. And I shouldn't complain anyway. One of my closest friends lives like 5km away and I can get on the bus and be in Asuncion in less than 2.5 hours. I have it good.

Oh...I've had some complaints about my Spanglish...here's a small glossary:
Asuncion: capital city of Paraguay. Seems amazing compared to the campo but truly a shit hole.
Campo: means countryside/rural area basically (basically equivilent to saying village, but they don't use the term village here) I live in the campo.
Pueblo: a small town, a few markets, a church, police station, town square
Piribebuy: my local pueblo...has a karaoke bar believe it or not, and 2 internet cafes, ice cream shops, a couple "restaurants" (Paraguayan food, nothing else)
Terrere: I can't even explain it sufficiently...it's basically iced tea. It's like the most important part of Paraguayan culture. It is served in a "guampa" which is basically a cup made of metal, wood or horn. You drink out of a metal straw "bombilla" The tea "yerba" is loose (not in a bag) you fill up the cup about 1/2 or 3/4 full and then pour cold water in. One person serves, everyone shares the one cup. The server pours, passes it right and the person drinks then passes it back to the server to pour the next person. You go around the circle untill you run out. I wish people here believed that you can spread germs through sharing cups/straws. They do this all day here. On buses, on the street, everywhere. People carry thermoses and their guampa/bombilla everywhere. It tastes good.
Mate: the hot version of Terrere. Served BOILING hot. Still uses the metal straw. Makes my lips peel. Consumed first thing once you wake up in the morning.

Hope that helps a little!
Call me!
Wish me luck! I'll be checking my email weekly in Piribebuy.

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

So we did our training groups Most Likely To list (we'll do another after training too) I was picked as Most Likely to be an Asuncion Rat (most likely to be not working and instead be in the capital city partying) and also Most Likely to Be ChuChi (its NOT my fault that my house, if I get it anyway, is fancy with running water, I'm not Chuchi...I'm the first one to put my hands in cow shit and the first one to volunteer to lay bricks and dig holes) Also we made up ones for each other (instead of doing categories first and then putting people into them) and they said that my house is where you are most likely to find other Peace Corps volunteers drinking. So don't feel too bad for me down here.

We've started saying our goodbyes. Its getting pretty sad.
I also started packing which is so not fun...I have no idea how I got all this crap here in only two bags. And they gave us 14 books to take to our sites.

What am I going to do in my site for the next couple of months? I hope I make friends there pretty fast. I wish I could just move straight into my own house. The latrine at my family's house there is not so nice. And they dont have hot water. And its pretty cool this week. And they say it gets colder. Have you ever taken a cold shower outdoors with cows staring at you when its only 16 degrees Celsius?

I did not get voted Most Likely to Marry a Paraguayan so fear not...

Thursday, April 15, 2004

So I'm struggling through these last few days of training...only 12 more and I am officially a Peace Corps volunteer. Not really...I'm going to miss it here so much. I have had more fun than I can explain.

It's hot. Still. And they call this "fall."

Spent another crazy weekend in Asuncion. Ate amazing Mexican food and margaritas. Ate McDonalds. Ate a pita wrap with hummus. Seriously you do not understand how much we all miss normal food. We stayed the night and partied late and we learned Peace Corps volunteers should never stay in hotels with pools. Enough said about that.

After the swearing in ceremony (and the swearing out ceremony of the old kids) we have a huge party for all 200 Paraguay volunteers. We rented out an entire hotel and its gonna be so much fun. I'm excited to meet everyone. Then I (in my amazing Spanish) reserved 6 rooms in the fancy hotel for me and my friends for the next 4 days until we leave for our sites. We figure might as well live it up before we head off for latrine land.

I still havent bought my cell phone. But my address isn't changing.

Please write me. Seriously, doesn't have to be anything long and profound. How about just a funny card with your name signed? I'll pay the postage. I love getting mail from you guys.

Peace and love and all that crap...I miss you!

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

Ok I have absolutely nothing new to say since yesterday. It's pretty exciting that I'm at an internet cafe two days in a row though.

I made it back from my site...I'm in Asuncion right now at the Peace Corps office. We're thinking of Chinese buffet for lunch. It will be my first non-Paraguayan food in 2 months (not counting pizza and french fries) Oh and I DID eat a slice of pecan pie last week. It was amazing.

I told my community day one that I don't eat mondongos (that would be cow intestines for all you non-Spanish speakers) Yes, that had to be said. Because they do. Oh they do. I went for a little walk through my community with my little 11 year old host sister and there hanging on the side of the road were like yards and yards of cow intestines. Hanging from this big wooden contraption. Yum.

I'm starting to pick up phrases in Guarani. How exciting is that. I totally do not HAVE to learn. My community totally understands Spanish and can speak it. But I WANT to know it. Its such a part of their culture and lifestyle. If I'm not in the conversation, they use Guarani. I want to be able to communicate in both. Plus how cool to speak an indigenous language. Maybe then the CIA and the Foreign Service will want me.

Here's a little joke Angela shared with me and I would like to share with the world...
Why does Snoop Dogg use an umbrella?
Fo' drizzle.

Peace out for now.

Tuesday, April 06, 2004

I LOVE MY SITE!
I just spent a week here (its called Presidente Franco in the department of Cordillera near the city of Piribebuy) A week by myself speaking Spanish all day and night. And I´m still alive. Actually I realized that my Spanish is better than I thought. I can understand like 95% of what is said to me, maybe more. And the Guarani sometimes makes some sense. Not often, but sometimes.

My site is beautiful. Its in the hills of Paraguay surrounded by rivers and streams. I am a followup volunteer. Which has its cons but its nice because the community understands Peace Corps and why I am here. The con is that they have expectations going in. Mainly because Will brought in money from the States (he got a partnership program that funded the construction of 80 brick ovens). But anyway, my site is beautiful and the people have been so friendly. I stayed with a family (Don Alcides and Na Antonia) all week and I am going to move in with them when I go back for good for about a month or so. Then I´m going to try to live with maybe one or two other families just so I can get to know more people. There´s a house that I really want to move into. Its right next to Don Alcides and Na Antonia´s house and its amazing. I would have a huge bedroom, a huge kitchen and a BANO MODERNO which means a TOILET and INDOOR SHOWER. It has a huge backyard and little stream and a big patio with lots of room for my hammock. I´m not excited or anything... I will cry if the owner doesnt want a renter. The owner lives in the capital city. Don Alcides runs the running water commission and will install running water for me for free wherever I live. I dont want to live in Will´s old house. So keep your fingers crossed that I get my big fancy house.

I love it here. I´m still here right now in the town of Piribebuy. Its a big town with 2 internet cafes and a karaoke bar and restaurants and shops. Its no New York City but for Paraguay its pretty cool. Its about 5k from my site. My really good friend Krista lives about 7k from my site. I am so lucky. I hope that she decides to stick it out, shes not as big of a fan of her site as I am of mine.

I am so happy right now. I am going to be really sad to leave training though. Its been like a non stop frat party. Such cool people I have met. I cant imagine life alone out here in the campo. But I am excited about the tranquilo lifestyle...after all I came here to work...

One of these days I am going to figure out how to upload pics online. When I get more time. Which I will have tons of soon, seriously, life in the campo is great, I may die of boredom one day, theres nothing to do. But I love it. And I am so excited to start fixing up my house and planting my garden. I´m going to have a cat, a dog and a parrot. I havent decided about the baby chicks. I am not going to have a horse (too much work) but one of the Senors that I met told me I can borrow his if I want to ride. He has a beautiful white horse.

A cow licked me yesterday. That was weird. Cows are usually afraid of people and run away. But he licked me. And it was gross. It felt like warm snot on my arm.

I think thats about it for now. I have about 2 more weeks of training. This week is Semana Santa (the week leading up to Easter) so no classes. Then back to training and on April 23rd I swear in at the Embassy. I plan to move to my community around April 28 (after much drunken debauchery in Asuncion) I will be purchasing my cell phone next week most likely and I will post my number. My address will not change though. Keep the letters coming...

Miss you all!
Love, Jenna

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