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?