Monday, March 31, 2008

Stuck in Asuncion

Congratulations me! I got voted in as the NVAC Treasurer. I also ran unopposed so as Dr. Tony Martin might say, that a six pack bet in my favor. So what does this new appointment mean? Well..every two months I will need to come into Asuncion to for a meeting, sort of the student council of Peace Corps. The perks are that I have two nights paid for in the city and I can do other work while I'm here, so I can save some money and I get to know the big cheese of Peace Corps Py a little better all with fairly minimal responsibility.
The down side of course is this weekend for example...I left site Thursday, intending to take the dawn bus Sunday night and be back in time to teach English on Monday. Well, here we are Monday night and I'm staying another night in the city...but tomorrow I WILL LEAVE (and walk into site if the bus is a no go).

On the bright side I had plenty of time to get to the big market in Asuncion (Mercado 4) and buy an electric tea kettle, electric range, a non-stick pan, and most importantly a garlic press. The items are a bit 'çhuchi' (make me look rich in site), but keep in mind that when my gas runs out in the house I have to take it 3km on horse to the bus and later pick it up with a horse and take it back to the house. I don't own a horse and sometimes my neighbors need theirs so I'm hoping the electric will save me time and money. We will see. At the very least I was able to make tomato soup and grilled cheese with Phillipe his g/f and serve and sell to other folks, not for profit just to cover costs.

Anyways, talks of leaving the office for dinner...and I can go for some food.
I'll be back in town next week, this whole trip was a surpise that I only learned about last Wed.

Later gang.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Neice chuu mit ju chuu

So it´s been a couple of months...funny how it sneaks up on you. Febuary included my first trip back to Asuncion to treat an infected spider bite. The scab only just came off this week. I´m continuing to stay with different families even though I can legitimately stay in my own house now. After all, it´d be rude to turn down the invitation, and these are families I really do want to get to know better. The title by the way is what it sounds like when you try and teach high schoolers in Paraguay to say nice to meet you too and their Paraguayan professora keeps insisting on the wrong pronunciation. Lucky for them I´ve decided to come in once every couple of weeks to help out and spice up the class a little bit. Although I think I was initially invited there because the English teacher is from the community and single. I think I may pass though, the class and on the offer.
I also may or may not have eaten endangered giant river otter this past week. If that is what it was (I may reasons to suspect so are good), it was mighty tasty! A dark meat, good fried, if you have wine that´s fine. I didn´t and it still was good to eat meat for the first time in a few days.
I also had my first experience with africanized bees this past week. The paraguayans were stung, I was not. I also never swung a machete or used an axe during the wild hive capture...go figure. It didn´t work though because the people I was working with weren´t actually interested in the work, they just wanted honey. I don´t think I´ll trust to work that particular town drunk again (Cayo).
In the garden, the bugs are eating the spicy peppers, but I´ll be putting a stop to that and hopefully they can recover. And I´m about to build my seed beds to kick start the winter green fest. Luckily I have good advice from the community and the volunteer before me on some general planning ideas.
Also, it´s Easter in the hugely Roman Catholic country, so starting Thursday it´s like a four day holiday where there is lots of Paraguayan food and meat many days. Should be fun, I already have an invitation to go visit a family.
Skipping over a lot of fluff that covers most of it and I need to once again go buy groceries.
Interesting side note, I went dumpster diving today in a wood pile for scraps to use back at the house...just goes to show that even in Paragauy I can find things being trashed and put them to use.
As for April, I´ll be in the capital for a week for business conference, a good time to call if you are someone who has my number, or I´m hellbent73 on Skype. I have no ones skype info but sometimes I´m now. Other April events include more cotton picking fun, literally, and started to develop a demonstration plot, basically my own little placew where I can do agroforestry.

All for now, for later from Asuncion in April.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Coming to you from deep in the heart of Departmento Caazapa

For those of you playing along at home, the reading list is going as follows: Finished Atlas Shrugged about a month...and I only started back in fifth grade (and restarted back when I was living in California). I also have read Jane Hamilton´s Book of Ruth, decent, in Oprah´s book club if that means something to someone. Now I´m mostly through Garrison Keillor´s We are Still Married, enjoyable. I´m also listening to parts of the Ender´s Saga, it´s the 7 books by Orsen Scott Card. Finished Xenocide and have a few more hours left on Children of the Mind, which is really just the rest of Xenocide. So listening isn´t exactly reading but the ipod was lighter than any one book, and I put 6 on it, plus my music.

Okay, the phone is being finicky. So hopefully more will work out towards Feb. That said The holidays were interesting. I feel pretty certain that I wore out my welcome at my neighbors. Not with her son, but the Senora (Na in Guarani) is cranky and bitter and old and was unhappy with me staying there and eating at her house from the start. That said I managed to make it through the holidays and then she said I should start sleeping in my house (50 meters away), which I only wasn´t doing because of Peace Corps regs. But she said she had family coming, they didn´t. Doesn´t matter though I sleep heaps better in my own space, without chickens and dogs and cats walking around or the radio on till midnight or people banging around in the middle of the night. Of course this week I had a rat in the house, and then one night I saw a cat sitting outside and haven´t heard the rat since then or seen the cat back at my house. So all´s well that ends...well, now I am working with a different brother, but still hoeing cotton. That said, my blisters have healed and I now have awesome calluses, I know a hard half day of work (we don´t do much in the afternoon, too bloody hot. Have had no world news or otherwise for a few weeks, so if somebody knows something that I should, please share.

I wanted to write more, but I need to go buy groceries.

Jajohechata (See ya later),

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Your tax dollars hard at work...

Ladies and gentlemen and cellulites (as one Paraguayan I know says it). I will be in touch again in a few weeks. For now, I'm about to head off to site, Kaundygue, and the campo for summer fun and winter holiday parties (Christmas and New Year's). This season's activities will include hoeing fields, managing the garden, meeting the community, and learning Guarani. I've got a machete for each hand (currently that count is two) and can't wait to go.

I officially swore in on Friday, met the group swearing out and many of those who are in the middle. This included my nearest neighbor near my site and some other generally close neighbors (within a couple hours). One noteworthy point is that I have a cell phone. I won't be putting the number up here, but Facebook is always a good potential place to check. I could sit here and write a description of my site but really I've seen so little and know so few that it wouldn't do a service to anyone. I will go as so far to say that I'm excited, as ready as I'll ever be, and am ready to the urban setting of Asuncion. That said, I'll be happy to return in three months for a hot shower and some climate controlled environment. Well so technically my environment will be extremely controlled by the environment, where weather predictions are hot with continued hotness spreading into the hotter regions of the hot zones. 40+ centigrade with patches of shade and breaks with ice water are gaurenteed to pass through at least twice daily.

I'll be checking e-mail once every couple of weeks as I go into the nearer pueblo for food if you are hoping to reach me. True, I did say I'll have a cell phone, but I have to walk 15 min to get to a reception area, so I'll be checking voicemails there every few days. We'll see how this goes, given that the options menu is in Spanish. I hope you all have happy and safe holidays, and may you to get the opportunity to slaughter animal for Christmas.

Two bloody thumbs up,

Saturday, November 3, 2007

A real post...

End of week five here in Paraguay and it´s been a bit of a rush.

So much has been going on it´s hard to even know where to begin, so best as possible here´s sort of a day to day.

I get up around 6:30, go through the normal routine of life (dress, breakfast, kick the chickens out of the way). Breakfast, aka arombosa in Guarani, is just a cup of milk (fresh off the cows at abuala´s down the street) and some golf-ball sized bread rolls that you could probably drive about 150yds (that´s about 150 meters if you prefer). Class starts at 7:45 and goes till 11:30 and is totally in Guarani (with the occassional explanation in Spanish and word written in English). We get two 20 min breaks (we being myself and the 8 other Agroforesters) where we normally visit the despensa and buy somethig cheap (fruit is a good choice). Then we get a break till 1pm for lunch, typically some sort of meet chunk in a carb (rice or pasta) and maybe some salad (Paraguayians aren´t big on the concept of vegetables or fresh fruit). At the end of the meal they serve up some juice normally, which is freshly squeezed but then ruined with sugar...sad.

Afternoons are the technical sections and happen in English, or are sometimes sessions with our whole group (40 people) in the local town of Guambare. These tend to be common area sessions, safety health, etc. Speaking of health, I´ve gotten hep A, and Rabies 1 and 2 with one more to go, and my last shot will be typhoid. I´ve recovered from the head cold, and a nasty round of food poisoning, and am now back to peak health (mas or menos today´s bee stings :)

After class, it´s pretty much visit the fam, practice speaking the Guarani-Spanish mix, not understanding a whole lot, having a small dinner if any at all, and then bed.

Mixed in have been field trips out to the campo. Campo is a word that translates litterally to countryside but in vernacular should be translated as the middle of nowhere Paraguay, there´s a lot of that and come December I´ll be moving there, so it´s good to get field trips there. In these past two-three weeks especially we´ve been looking at a number of agroforestry and agricultural systems that range from nearly pristine forest where a few select species are encouraged for harvest, to a poor soil slash and burn disaster site where nothing grows but the miracle plant, pigeon pea, or kumanda yvyraí (in Guarani - translation, little bean tree). It´s not only wild to learn how to take an eroding slope with trashed soil to a productive crop field mixed with trees, but then to take trips out and see the progression in various stages in very cool. Also very difficult to describe...particularly in Guarani...or Spanish, but I´m not speaking much of that right now.

Honestly, I´d love to have questions thrown at me to be answered about day to day life if you have them because to me it´s all just another day in Paraguay.

It takes mail about 17 days to get to me at present, that may get longer in December.

Oh, one of the projects we are working on in tech is to start a small agroforestry project in our host community before we leave. Basically, we were given a day and told to spread out and walk up to strangers and introduce and chat and visit...much like December will be. I finally came across this one family that was receptive to let me sit there and talk in choppy 3 word sentences a couple weeks ago, and in two weeks I hope to present a short demonstration on how to properly plant, prune, and care for citrus, specifically oranges and grapefruit. I may also throw in mango since they have a couple trees. I could go as far as to show them how to graft, but it´s a tricky science-art and there´s no need.

This past week was Halloween, as you all know, didn´t mean a thing here in py. However, the following day was day of the angels, which if you have children that have died you´d go visit the cementary, and the day after that is day of the spirits where you go visit older family members in the cementary, drink terere (think iced green tea and you are on your way to the flavor, but still far off), and it´s really like a big fiesta with all your friends. I was spotted by some neighbors I didn´t know and invited over to their house that night...which translates as sometime, because I couldn´t go that night, but you don´t say that, you say I´ll see you then, and then go sometime in the future. It was actually my language teacher who had me stop and talk with them and I think it was because she wanted me to meet their daughter...and you could right a paper on the culture in all of that but my internet hour is up.

So there was a weird and disconnected cross-section of things and I´ll close with a public health notice paraguayan style. You need to wait 30min after eating fish before you drink water. They did not say why, only that it would be bad and make you very sick. Don´t ask me, maybe the fish swim back out or something similar?


Thursday, October 11, 2007

New post for REAL

Okay team,

I have T-minus 3 minutes to write this e-mail.

I'm in Asuncion (the capital) today for some training at HQ.

I'm having an awesome time, despite not speaking either of the two languages in the country and fighting off the tail end of a head cold...cough cough.

I have an excellent host family with host siblings ages 1,4,8, and 15 (she is actually a live-in babysitter but she's treated like family).

Where I'm living is nicer than than living at High Rocks, minus the mountains.

Learning lots of new trees, I've sent out 0 letters (irregular times to send and pricey) and I've only gotten to a computer twice now.

All that send, thanks for the e-mails, sorry for the misinformation on the last update (I didn't have a google acct and couldn't sign in).

All the best,

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Contact Information

Hola gang,

So it's night before departure and I have everything together...scattered throughout my room. I haven't practiced any true Spanish in about a month and I half a dozen other little notes/e-mails to send off in addition to firing up the iPod. That said, let me get to the critical points here.

In Paraguay, I can be reached at the following:
Michael Bauman, PCT
Cuerpo de Paz
162 Chaco Boreal
c/Mcal. Lopez
Asuncion, 1580, Paraguay
South America

After mid-December, the PCT should be changed to PCV, as I will stop being a trainee and be a full fledged volunteer. Assuming I pass my trainee exit tests and if I don't, see you all in December!

Tomorrow and Wednesday night I will be in Miami. Feel free to call the hotel and find my room:
Doubletree Hotel Coconut Grove
2649 South Bayshore Dr
Miami, FL 33133

I'm very good at replying to letters, so write me and I'll write back (I also don't have many street addresses for people, so you can e-mail those to me and I will go from there).

You can always leave a back-log of mail at my parents, although it would also be great that if I do write you that you give them a call and let them know you've heard from me (I'll leave their number in the letter).

Michael Bauman
5240 Wynterhall Dr
Atlanta, GA 30338
USA, North America

Okay, it's time to pack, seriously.
Quick story first, I went to Wal-mart three times today and have been to three different Wal-marts in the past week. I know the store layout better than most sales associates and I can blink in time with the fluorescent lighting.

Next post from who knows where.