Wednesday, August 27, 2008

my first big oops.

So right now I'm in Asuncion, because I wanted to get some books about how to teach English... Turns out I'm missing a very important event in my munipicality, where they give a presentation on how all the tax money was spent from the past year. I am a horrible volunteer. BAH! I would have bet 100,000 guaranies (about 25 bucks) that this event was supposed to be Friday. BAH!! QUE MALA!

anywho, while I'm here, I figured I should post some pics... The most beautiful sunset after the fiesta patronal in San Bernadino...
My host cousins-- Richar and Veronica -- and I on a somewhat scary dock...

Yesterday we had the special olympics in my town. They have them every year but they switch locations each year, and this year it was in my town. I helped out with the preparation and with the actual event and it was a lot of fun. The kids were so happy because they all received medals after their event. I got to hand out medals to the kids and I think I had the best job. Their is this one 15 year old named Ramoncito, and he won first place and was SOOOOO happy, and it is very obvious in the following picture.

Handing out the medals to the participants!

This is one of the many ridiculously cute children in Paraguay. Her name is Bianca, She is the granddaughter of one of my coworkers in the municipality. I stopped by their house yesterday after the olympics to drink some terere. She is one year old and she walks and talks like a champ...and she has a sticker on her forehead.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

A few random photos

My friends (Courtney, me, Mark, Laara, Jesus) are going to kill me for posting this, but I love it because it makes me smile everytime I see it. This was taken in Aregua, right in front of the lake. Laara is my closest neighbor!
I love this picture because it happened so spontaneously but it looks so planned. Mark and I celebrating the 4th of July in Shola´s host-family´s house. We made pizza using the outdoor brick oven and it actually turned out really good!

The most adorable pets at Erik´s host-familys house in G´re

Sasha and Karen singing Karaoke our last night together before we all split up to live in different cities.

That´s all I got for now! Miss you allll!

Photos from my site

A really nice home right next to the plaza. In Paraguay it is very popular to paint the bottoms of the trees white. People say it´s just because it looks good but I have a feeling it´s also because it keeps the ants from making their huge ant piles up against the trees... another hypothesis yet to be confirmed.
Some of the many Orchids we have in my backyard. There are soo many flowers in Paraguay! And I hear they are soo many more in the summer!

This is the lovely ant tube in my bedroom. The ants constructed it within a day and if you get close to it you can hear them walking around inside. When I first noticed it I told my host dad and he broke off a part of the tube and concluded that it was old and that they would clean it up tomorrow, but when he left to go to bed, ants began to pour out of the tube and started to reconstruct the part that he broke off. The next morning it was all fixed, but I´m still waiting to get the poison to kill them.
This ride was for our fiesta patronal. This one makes me laugh because their is nothing electronic involved. The guy who is standing up on the platforms just pushes the animals so they move in a circle.
The Ferris Wheel and behind it are these traveling toy shops that set up shop in our plaza for a couple weeks during our fiesta.
This is host mom and I at a party at her mother-in-laws house for a party for "children´s day"

They had all these games for all the kids and they even had one of the blow-up rings where the kids all jump around inside.

This is for you Granddad. I went to the swearing-in ceremony for the governor of my state and they had a performance of traditional harps and guitars.

This is the living room of my somewhat luxurious new home.

The church in my town

San Bernadino

These are photos from San Bernadino, one of the summer getaways for the wealthy who live in Asuncion. (12 km from my town)

Mom- this is picture is for you. The Mayor took this and said that I had to post this to show you that I was happy and living in a beautiful place!

This is near the church in San Bernadino, it has a good view of the lake and everything.

This is one of the beautiful hotels in San Bernadino. Tourist season here is summer, December through February.
Fountain in the hotel.

This is the view leaving San Bernadino on the way to my town!

...BY DEMAND (with mailing address just in case you forgot)

If you want to send me something but don´t know what I need, here are some items I could definitely use (some you might be able to send, others maybe not, but I will put them on the list anyways just in case you can):

Melting Chocolate (in a plastic bag, just in case it melts)
Aubrey’s or Jason Shampoo (organic)
Chocolate in general is always good
Burt’s Bees hand sanitizer spray (aloe and witch hazel)
Freeze-dried Mangosteen and Pinapple from Trader’s Joes (so good)
Freeze-dried Icecream (chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry kind – can be purchased at super wal-mart)
Orbitz cinnamon gum
Good quality face lotion (preferably organic)
Cute-Professional clothes, light material shirts or whatever you can fit in a box (machine washable por favor)
Music mixes (including artist info por favor)
Cute flip flops/ sandals- brown rainbow brand flipflops would be amazing! Size 7
Formal pants- black slacks, gray slacks – light, washable material preferred (both of mine were ruined with bleach...)
Good Dvds
Good Spices for thai and indian food
Favorite teas
Natural toothpaste
Good knives--cutting boards

Thanks to everyone who has already sent things to me, I am overwhelmed with joy every time I receive a package and/or card! So far I’ve received wonderful treats from Catie, Katie, Gina and Scott! Muchisimas Gracias, I loved everything!

A few things that I don’t need anymore of:
Bug spray/sunscreen (I’m set for a while, thanks guys!)
Medicines- I get those for free through my doctor here

Also, a few tips... Sending packages in the floppy envelopes is normally better than the boxes because they usually don´t get stopped in customs like the boxes do.Basically, it´s better to send two small packages than one big one. Don´t declare any value, unless you want to insure it. If you declare a lot of money than I usually have to pay to receive the package.
Mailing Address is the same, but with PCV (peace corps volunteer) instead of PCT (PC trainee)

"Julie __, PCV"
Cuerpo de Paz 162 Chaco Boreal c/Mcal. López
Asunción, 1580 Paraguay
South America

First Week in Site!

I love my town. It’s so cute and everyone is really nice. We have a huge plaza that is surrounded by these beautiful trees that have these brilliant purple flowers that I am continually amazed by. My town is in a little valley of hills and the majority of the roads have cobblestone, which is very nice because the dirt roads wash out like rivers when it rains. We even have more than one restaurant and a hotel, both of which are hard to find in the majority of towns I’ve been to. The family I’m staying with has a really nice house, where I enjoy my own room, which is at least twice the size of my room in Guarambare. I also have air-conditioning and a wash machine!!! Both of which are almost unheard of here, so I feel pretty spoiled. The only down side is that my room is directly on the main road through town and I don’t have any way to close my windows (I just have metal bars and wooden blinds, but nothing that shuts out sound) so it is pretty darn loud and it actually wakes me up in the morning. Also, there is a business that is directly next to my room and they open up at 6am and start rearranging things, while listening to music, which isn’t the best thing when I want to sleep, but normally I’ll be up at that hour so it shouldn’t be too big of an issue. I live with a couple whose two children are both in New York. They are really nice and they actually go out and do things, unlike my family in Guarambare, so they have made it really easy to meet a lot of people in town.

I’m also about 15 minutes from San Bernadino, which is a big tourist town because it is right on a beautiful lake. There are a lot of advantages to being really close to San Bernadino. First, it is beautiful. Second, it has a good amount of restaurants and internet, which is always nice. Third, it might make a good incentive for people from the states to come visit me? Number three is only a hypothesis that still needs to be tested...

The first day I arrived in site was crazy. I was going on 4 hours of sleep and I arrived here at 12pm and threw down my bags and went to meet my family at the 15th birthday party (quincenera) of the neighbors. From there, the mayor picked me up to eat lunch with all the town council and a mayor and a few council members of a town on the other side of Paraguay who had come into town to celebrate the fiesta patronal (more later about that). The mayor arranged a visit to the nicest house in my town, which is owned by a German couple who apparently moved here after their daughter died in a car accident in Germany and the wife ended up in a wheelchair in the same accident. Their house is AMAZING. Not only is it really beautiful, but it also has an amazing view of the town (it is up on the hill) as well as the surrounding hills. They live on this big property that has all these animals. They have a little house that has all these huge snakes, like cobras and stuff, and they extract the venom to make the antidote, some kind of business I guess. They also have turtles and a lot of big birds and they even had a pond that had little crocodiles in it! They also have tons of guard dogs, which they sell on occasion. Apparently they were all this one kind of Brazilian breed that I hadn’t heard of, but they were big and fierce. When he put one of the dogs front paws on the fence it stood at least 6’5”, it was crazy. Of course, I forgot my camera that day, like I always do on the days I actually do something interesting, but the mayor said we would go back in the next two years haha. After the house tour, I went to Catholic mass in the plaza because they had a special mass for the Fiesta Patronal. In Paraguay, each town had a saint of that town, and our saint is Saint Lorenzo. On the day of that Saint there is a big party. Well Sunday was our fiesta patronal, but they also had activities on Saturday. They had the mass right outside the church because so many people come that they can’t fit them all in the church. After that we went to walk around the carnival that was in town and got some dinner there and from there we went to the big concert/party in the “tinglado” which is basically a big concrete floor that has a tin roof. We stayed until 3:30am and then got up at 7am to get ready for the 9am Sunday Mass in the plaza. Right after the mass we watched the parade and at the end I walked in the parade with the municipal employees. All the municipal employees were wearing their blue uniforms and heals and I walked right in the middle of them with my jeans and rain jacket and hiking shoes. It was pretty awkward and funny but when we walked by the mayor and his wife they seemed pretty amused, so that was good. Later, I ran into a Peace Corps volunteer from a neighboring town and she said that I must be the bravest PC volunteer to be in the parade on my second day in site, haha. From the parade we were supposed to watch the horse show but I was too tired so I had to come back to take a nap, but I was still able to catch the end of the horse show. Basically, there is no competition or anything, people just bring their nicest horses and ride them to show them off, but of course I enjoyed it because I love horses.

To say the least, it has been a really busy first weekend in site, but now I think things will start to get back to normal and I can start to focus on my work. I’m going to hopefully spend the first week spending time with the different municipal employees so I can get to know some of the different departments before I start planning projects with one department over another. Although this coming weekend is pretty crazy. It is the fiesta patronal for the capital, Asuncion, on Friday and it is also the day when the new president, Fernando Lugo, swears in, which is a big deal because it’s the first time there has been a change in political party in over 60 years. Saturday is the “dia de los ninos” or day of the children, which is also supposed to be pretty big.

Things are going really well in Paraguay, hope everything is going well with you all!!!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

My New Home!

I can't post too many pictures because the internet is too slow, but here is the view down one of the cobblestone streets in my town.

Here is a couple blocks from the center where things begin to get pretty rural...

Yay! more later!