Tuesday, December 8, 2009

So you really want to know?

Most of my updates are related to social events or random life happenings, but I figured I should dedicate at least ONE blog entry to the actual reason I came down to Paraguay in the first place, to work as a Peace Corps Volunteer:

To be honest, most of what I'm doing right now is setting up/preparing for projects in the future because everything takes preparation and it's hard to just jump into a project (and probably not recommended if you want your project to be successful) without discussing it first with a counterpart in the community.

Primary Project:

This is by far what I spend my most time working on and the project I am most passionate about. I always say that there is no better investment than in education (and health) and what better way to educate a community than by bringing them resources in paper and digital form. In the end, the hope is to have a library that can serve as a community center, a place to check out books, learn computer skills, connect to the internet, hold community meetings, display community art and event information, as well as a quite place to read or study. But first, we need to remodel the building in the plaza to make it safer so that all the books and computers actually stay in the library.
> CURRENT PROGRESS: 850 dollars received from the Bill Kelly Funds, partnership formed with the US Embassy for future resources as well as a handful of books that have been donated by them, local architect who is willing to do the building plans for free, library committee formed and in the process of forming a neighborhood commission to be recognized by the local and state governments (unfortunately every week we are 3-4 people short of being able to form at commission), application for 5,000 dollars through USAID is completed and awaiting construction plans from architect, Multiple non-profits who have assured me book donations after the formation of the neighborhood commission and formal solicitation.

It kills me that there are so many organizations willing to donate materials and the part that has been the hardest is getting enough community members to show up at the meetings! We are going to try one final time to get the commission formed this Thursday and if it doesn't happen then we have no choice other than to wait until after the holidays to try again. ugh...

This is the front of the building that we want to remodel and put glass where the fencing is so that we can have a super huge space for the library/community center... still deciding what to call it.

This is the location of the building, in the middle of the second plaza and right in front of the elementary and high schools!!

Secondary Projects:

Right now my english teaching is more like English practicing on an individual basis. A couple times a week a few high school and college students come to my house and we drink terere and I practice speaking english with them and answer the questions that they have from their homework. I like this system because it is fun and very informal but pretty soon I will be starting something a little more concrete.

> For the summer break (in paraguay, this is January and February) I will be teaching a English class for ages 12-19 (but honestly who ever wants to come is welcome, but it will be at a slower pace than classes would be for adults). This project I am doing at the woman's center in Altos "Kuna Aty" by request of the President of the woman's group. I have had so many pleas that I figured it was time to give in to the English Gods and give the people what they want, even if it's not technically my project area.

> Last year, before I hurt myself I was just about to start going once a week to the school (Luis Alberto de Parana) to teach them songs and play games to learn English. English is the cool thing to learn these days so everyone wants a piece of it! So this year we are going to try again, given that I don't fall in another water canal, and that will start with the school year in the end of February.

This camp is what I had talked about in my last blog update that takes place at the end of January and I super excited to go expose these two amazing girls from Altos to a new perspective on their role and responsibility as a citizen of Paraguay!

("I see Paraguay" in Guarani)
This is a super awesome project that was invented by CoCoMu, the organization within Peace Corps that promotes artistic and cultural events. The project begins with a photography workshop with Paraguayan youth which culminates by lending them cameras for 30 days to allow Paraguayans the opportunity to express their creativity and practice the photography techniques they were taught in the workshop. The principal of the school and I decided we would do the project with her sixth grade class of 15 students and we have yet to find out exactly when the cameras will be available to us. For more information on this project, check out their blog!

The Ahecha Logo, so cute.

SO that's what is on my plate for the next couple months, as well as a couple community clean-ups, random presentations and a library workshop that I am planning to attend with a community member. But I'm still trying to set-up some more stuff to occupy my time because this go around I really want to make the most of my time here in Paraguay!

P.S. Happy Little Virgin of Ca'acupe Day!! I think I'm going to use this national holiday to clean house because tomorrow my bosses from Asuncion are coming for a site visit, because I wasn't here when they did the "one year in site visit." woot!!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Ñande Ha'e Tenonderã: Cambiando el Futuro con la Fuerza Juvenil

"We are the future: changing the future with the power of youth!"

Hello Friends and Family,

As you know, I am a municipal services volunteer and all the volunteers from this sector have decided to host a civic education summer camp for Paraguayan youth from all over Paraguay. The camp will last 3 days and will be held at this great location close to the town of Tobati. This is a great opportunity for Paraguayan youth to travel, meet other youth from other parts of the country, and learn about their civic responsibility and the resources that are available to them through their local government. I have chosen two girls from my town, one, age 19, and another, age 20, to attend the camp with me. They are both super sweet young women who, in one way or another, have shown me there desire to help their community and better their own lives in the process. They both come from humble backgrounds and haven't traveled more than two hours outside of our town. I'm super excited to give them this opportunity to have this experience because I think it will really open their eyes to the opportunities they have in Paraguay if they dig a little.

Our goal is to have everything be free for the Paraguayan youth that participate in the camp and this is where you all come in! I try not to ask for help too much because, as a volunteer, I have probably over-stepped the "mooching" line a time or two, but this one is easy and cheap! I would like to raise a minimum of 36 dollars to cover the transportation costs and a camp t-shirt for both of the girls from my town! If you are able to donate a couple bucks please e-mail me at juliebe8@gmail.com and I will let you know where to send the money/check. We are going to organize it so one of the volunteers who is coming back from a christmas visit can bring the money back with them!

I hope life in the states is treating you all well! I'm always the most jealous of you people in December because there is no place like home for the holidays!! :)


p.s. here is the camp shirt for those who are curious!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Whether You Like it or Not...

I'm back in Paraguay!

You know that feeling when you think you are literally going to die before a major event takes place because THAT is how unlikely it seems? This has happened to me a lot... I thought I would die before I got my driver's license or before I went off to college. Paranoid? Maybe. But I think it's mostly that the particular event seems so spectacular that you think, "No, that could never happen to me!" Well it happened, and I'm still alive!

In some ways it seems like I was gone for a week and in other ways it seems like I have missed out on so much. Among Peace Corps volunteers, there has been a lot of fun events that I did not partake in. My friends have been to this amazing site called Villa Florida so many times that most are not going back this week for the Halloween party because they have been there done that. Me, on the other hand, have yet to venture to the amazing lands of Villa Florida and so I'm preparing my Halloween costume for my venture to the south of this little country!

In Altos, things have changed as well, no matter how similar it may appear to the foreign eye. Six months later the grocery store the Santa Maria has been renovated and actually looks like something besides a warehouse, my neighbor (who I didn't even know was pregnant before I left) has popped out a beautiful baby girl, my friend Adriana has left to work in Spain, the fiesta patronal and the san juan festival have come and gone and the location where I was GOING to do my library is now a pedagogical center for teachers from Altos, Loma Grande and Nueva Colombia.

Well, this Thursday I am organizing a meeting among some of the active members of the community to give me their input about the best alternative location for the library, how to raise funds for a librarian, and the kinds of books we should request from a few organizations who have expressed their willingness to send us books among other things. Hopefully we can get this project going here pretty quickly, we've all waited 6 months already!

<3 Julie

Monday, September 28, 2009

Despedida!! aka Going Away Party

One of the cutest things I've ever seen, my cousin Daniel.

the new tallest cousin, Alex.

Family shot!

23rd, yes 23rd!! Birthday

Virginia Tech vs. Nebraska game. We won in the last minute of the game 16-15 and the students rushed the field!!

One of the peaks of Otter on the way home from Smith Mountain Lake!

Yes, the exit I have passed at least a billion times on my way to Blacksburg and back and it was my birthday so we stopped!

the moment I had been waiting for!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Lake Trip!

Labor day weekend was spent at the beautiful smith mountain lake. The new home is coming together slowly and it is starting to feel like a real home!! We spent a lot of time weeding and fixing things, but we did find time for some swimming and lots of good meals!!

on our neighbor's fishing boat!

Kayaking close to the boat docks at the Boardwalk

before weeding...

and after!!

My dad and Lyndon installing the dishwasher

Becky's new puppies fighting over a toy, but looks awful similar to my dad and Lyndon ;)

On the "boardwalk"

After the installation of all the new appliances, so shiny!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Best of the World Wide Web

In these past 6 months I have had more than my share of free time. Some of it was spent mindlessly searching the internet. Ok, a lot of it. But here are some gems I found in the process. If you are bored, read on.

The song "Kandi" by One Eskimo. I usually don't like animated videos, but this one has a lot of meaning I think.

Playing for change is a movement that tries to bring peace and understanding through music, here is one of the songs they created by using musicians all over the world.
"stand by me"

"Where the Hell is Matt" is this kid Matt who dances all over the world with all different kinds of people, I'm not sure why... but it definitely is fun to watch.

a guilty pleasure video: "David after the dentist"

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Waiting on the final step!!

After the loss of my dental x-rays and a quite painful second visit to the dentist, I have sent them off once again and I hope they have already arrived safely, ensuring my medical clearance. Normally the dentist is not a painful experience, but this time they put this sharp piece of plastic in my mouth and told me to "Bite Down" even though my teeth were no where near the plastic piece and what they really meant to say was "jam this plastic thing into your gums to hold it still". Twice the xray machine moved when she stomped out of the room and took a picture of what could only be my brain, probably leading to tumors down the road. But I'm over it and glad that there actually seems to be an end in site to this recovery period!

One lovely silver lining to this whole experience is that I have had a lot of time to spend with my friends and family and I was able to be here for my cousins wedding and our family vacation to Myrtle Beach!!

here are some pictures :)

Counting Crows and Augustana in Concert at the House of Blues (Not pictured: Franti and Spearhead!)

Family at Margaritaville for dinner at Broadway on the Beach!!

Beautiful sunset outside of Greg Norman's restaurant at barefoot landing!

Chantel and I on the beach for the wedding!

The Beautiful wedding ceremony on the beach !!

Friday, August 7, 2009

One More Month??

It's looking like a month from tomorrow I could and SHOULD be in Paraguay!! Sooooo I definitely did not do everything I wanted to, but that is just how it is for me... When I have no obligations and all the free time in the world, I am the least productive. So that is a disappointment, but there is no reason to dwell. I have gotten a lot of research done for my thesis, made a few productive trips down to Blacksburg to really hammer out my thesis ideas, did some substantial work for the organization HELP Africa, reviewed some Guarani, worked out and strengthened my foot on my own and in physical therapy twice a week, but mostly I just hung out with friends and family and bummed around the house...

So I decided to make a list of things that I must do in this last month before I go back!! Things that I will be upset if not done! (I'm sorry if this isn't interesting, but it is actually necessary for me so I figured I would write it here).

- Finish proposals for both organizations willing to donate books to my library!
- Look into other international and national nonprofits that donate books
- Buy Spanish scrabble!!
- Figure out why 2 medical bills never got paid
- Talk to companies/stores that might be willing to donate backpacks for my mobile library project
- Explore PC network as a place to get books donated
- Get something for my host mom from Guarambare, Gudelia
- Get two hooks for my hammock --maybe hooks for others too? it's a good gift, so handy!
- Buy transition to democracy book for my thesis!
- Make a craft box to bring back with me

Maybe I should have a going away get together to make sure I see everyone before leaving!
Ok that's all for now. Even though I really want to go back to Paraguay, now I know how hard it is to be away from everyone and I think it's going to make that much harder to leave AGAIN! But I think I'll be happy having projects and feeling like a useful human being on this Earth.


Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Happy Fourth of July!!

This fourth of July was spent in its corresponding country, the good ol' USA, which I recently realized was the first fourth of July I have spent in the US in four years, which was a streak that began with my first venture outside it's borders sophomore year, my trip to Spain. I spent the 4th in a TGIFriday's in Madrid celebrating with my study abroad friends. The following year I was flying home from the Dominican Republic on the 4th and saw all the fireworks from the plane. The next year I was in Paraguay still in training and making pizza in a traditional tatacua oven. So this is my first real traditional 4th in the US since my freshman year in college, and it was a nice to be at 'home' for once. But by home, I mean Virginia, because I spent the 4th down at Smith Mountain Lake, which is where I'll be spending a lot of time from here on out since my parents will be moving there next year. It is a beautiful place to watch the fireworks over the water, on my friend's family's boat. It was what you would want in a relaxing fun and food-filled weekend. I good balance of sun, swimming, sleeping, boating, eating, and drinking.

Here are some very patriotic pictures to celebrate the occasion.

My Elementary School friend Sara and I at Smith Mountain Lake

Us girls in red, white and blue for the occasion.
The girls and the girly-est of them all, chloe the pup

Monday, June 22, 2009

New Video for Trainees

Sites and Sounds of Paraguay
This is a link to a video on YouTube that was made by one of our trainers to show new volunteers who haven't arrived in Paraguay yet what life is like! A lot of my friends participated in it's production and I was there during a lot of the taping, even though I am not in it, I still feel cool. 

Great Job Ricardo!!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Top ten most unsanitary practices in Paraguay...

But you grow to love!! 

I snagged these from my friend Mark because they are so right on, and I think are applicable in all parts of Paraguay, with MAYBE the exception of some rich people in the capital city. I did add a few personal touches that tend to stretch the boundaries a tad more. 

1) Sharing the same guampa and bombilla (drinking cup/bottle and metal straw when drinking Terere). In other words drinking after multiple people usually sitting in a circle and using the same straw, even random drunks and bus drivers...I may or may not be speaking from personal experience.

2) Being served and huge central trough of food among many people, and all sharing one set of silverware, or not using silverware at all!

3) Being served a plate of food on a plate recently used by someone else, and not yet cleaned. Same goes for glasses.

4) Being expected to use the tablecloth as your napkin, that is, grabbing the table cloth and wiping your mouth and hands on it. Table clothes are usually changed every 3-5 days.

5) Sharing a glass with any acquaintance remotely known, when drinking almost any beverage.

6) Eating meat that was just recently sitting on the counter (hanging in the open air or in a bin unrefrigerated).

7) Watching just about everyone go to the restroom and continue cooking without washing their hands.

8) The absence of soap in almost all public and private restrooms.

9) Nose picking in public (this apparently is not seen as something gross here). However, in my experience most who to do practice this in public, tend to scratch their inner nose, and don't actually uncover any "gold" if you get my drift.

10) Continuing to consume food after finding a bug or insect in it.


Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Julie out of Paraguay- can you help?

Hello Friends and Family,
As you know, I'm no longer in Paraguay... for the moment, but I am still trying to get resources together for the project I was working on the last couple months I was in Paraguay, my library project. My community put together a library committee and has worked hard to organize themselves and create an application for the funds. We were awarded 840 dollars from a Peace Corps library fund. We have created a budget that includes library shelves, tables, chairs, a desk, and books. Our plan was to get the state government to donate computers and the embassies to donate more books.

How can you help?
1. It's looking harder and harder to get computers donated from the state and I figured some of you out there might have laptops that you don't use anymore because you have replaced them with something newer. So my question is, do you have any laptops that still work but have replaced and are no longer using? Laptops would be preferred so that I can transport them myself, since I won't have much to bring back with me to Paraguay.

2. Books in Spanish would also be appreciated; these could be for any age group on any subject. Anything in Spanish would be greatly appreciated.

3. For a separate library project, called 'mobile libraries' I'm looking for any old backpacks that people are willing to donate to me. This project is still in the planning stages, but I think it should be pretty easy to get off the ground. Basically, I'm looking to make 'mobile libraries' for each grade level, which will just be a backpack with books appropriate for each reading level. This program targets schools in the rural areas, who don't have access to many books or school materials and tend to have lower literacy rates and most do not continue on to higher education. Each school will get a backpack at a time for an allotted amount of time. After the students have had a sufficient amount of time with them at one school, they will pass them to the next school until each school in the 'companias' or rural areas of my time have had a chance to read the books.

That's all for now!! Thanks for keeping up with me and if you want to know more about the projects or would like to help out in other ways, contact me!! I'm sure most of you have my contact info, but my email address is Juliebe8@gmail.com

Thanks! Much Love!!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Health in PY

So my mom said I should make a list of all the health issues I've had in Paraguay, but I would like to preface this by saying I tend to be prone to minor health problems and it wasn't as bad as it sounds because they were spread over 9 months (as of yet)

1. I was perfectly healthy until the very end of training, when I got a gastro-intestinal infection and I missed the last (and most fun) day of training... :( Everyone did skits imitating each other and sang songs and basically made fun of everyone for a day. This lasted for about a week where I could hardly eat anything and when I did eat, it was very restricted..such as white rice and diet sprite. The saddest part about this was we spent the weekend after training in Asuncion and for the first time we were able to eat at good restaurants and not the regular, monday rice with vegetables and chicken peices, tuesday meat-grease soup (copyright: Shola), until sunday's barbeque. I couldn't even eat the cake at our end of training ceremony!! 

2. Giardia: Many of the volunteers I know had a bought of Giardia, and most were worse than mine, which included basic stomach issues and nausea for a couple month, but the symptoms came and went, which is the classic Giardia way. 

3. Fire Burn: So there are some interesting traditions that go on in Paraguay for the San Juan festival, the saint of fire, something I learned very quickly celebrating this day. If you want to know more about the fire traditions on this day, I already wrote about them on a blog from June, but the one tradition that ended up burning me was called "pelota tata" which means "ball of fire" --obviously a bad sign. We were about to leave the party of boys kicking around a burning ball of wire stuff with paper and doused in kerosene and when I turn around a ball is kicked directly into my left shoulder and I brushed it off with my right hand. Thankfully, I was wearing a raincoat that melted, but protected my shoulder from being burned and only my hand was burned brushing the ball of flames off of me. 

4. Skin Fungus: Close to the end of training there was one day where we were all at a friend's house planning our end of training party and the skies opened up and it poured until the street were converted into shallow creeks and about at that time we decided to walk home. Well, my feet were soaked and I must have came in contact with some kind of water fungus because a dry itchy patch of fungi appeared on my foot. Considering my usual skin problems, I just thought it was a patch of exema, and I let it be for a whopping three months!

5. Shoulder popped out of socket: During our technical training excursion we were visiting a volunteer in Santa Rosa who worked with a youth group that were learning to play basketball. The volunteer, Sean, decided it would be fun to have a tournament of volunteers vs. youth group and invite the community to watch. While this sounded fun, we weren't informed of another group of basketball players that weren't as small and inexperienced from the town over, with whom we were also going to compete. The very first competition with the youth group went well and we won fairly easily. The second game against these giants from the town over was another story; I swear there must be something in the water over there because extremely tall Paraguayans are a rare breed, and there were about 15 of them all in the same town, that all happened to enjoy basketball. Well, the first couple minutes into the game, I was going up for a rebound alongside the PY giants and one came down on my shoulder and popped it right out of socket. Fortunately it popped back in on it's own in 30 seconds so it wasn't a big deal but it was pretty sore and uncomfortable to move. I was a little overwhelmed by the situation and unable to express in Spanish what happened, so I ended up crying and our trip chaperone and  language teacher thought it was best to go to the hospital less than half a block away, so that's what we did. Even though they turned out to be very incompetent and really only asked about the United States and not my injury. It did make me appreciate the health services in my town, which isn't much bigger but seem to be much more helpful. 

6. Water contamination: After moving to my new town Altos, I was happy to find a clean water supply that I could drink straight from the tap, which it what I did on most occasions. However, one Sunday something contaminated the town water supply and I would estimate that one in every 4-5 people in town came down with sever stomach problems, mine was particularly violent, keeping me up all night for several nights..NOT fun, by far the worst illness I had...and I hope I never have to repeat. I felt like death.

7. Acne and discoloration: I'm starting to think this was more just aggravated from stress caused by changes in environment, which probably aggravated an inevitable period of severe acne. Since it never happened to me in high school, I figured I was due for some hormonal changes.. Discoloration was probably related to the heat. 

8. Exema: Not sure why, but I also began having more dry skin patches, that were different from the skin fungi!! now i know the difference. But just an annoyance, really.

9. Cigarette burn: This was just kind of funny because I was at the Paraguay-Bolivia soccer game after-party at the Plaza de los Heroes and there were a lot of people drinking a lot of "milk" which is what they sayyy they are selling on the streets (when the are REALLY selling beer) because it's technically illegal to sell beer on the streets, but the police don't seem to mind. We were all listening to music and dancing and another volunteer fell into me and burned me with his cigarette but didn't even realize it until I yelled at him about it the next time I saw him. So now we are even and that is why I'm not mentioning him name now :) 

10. Shattered Heel: I think we all know too much about this accident..and if you don't know, check out the blog entry "no, I'm not in paraguay anymore" 

So thoses are my injuries/illnesses for the first 9 months in Paraguay, hopefully the second year will be a little less dramatic :)

I think I must have reached some kind with the illness I've contracted in the last two months!
- Scabies! Apparently from sheets at the hotel that were not washed properly
- Parasite in my hair! NO idea how I got this one!
- Infected toe from a pedicure gone wrong! (the first and the last time I had a pedicure in Paraguay that involves anything more in depth than just painting the toe nails!)
- Huge bites that are super itchy and are not from mosquitos. People are torn if they are ant bites (I don't think they are) OR this mysterious white bug that you can't keep away from you even with insect repellent (sounds right to me!)
- Ended november with a nice cold and another type of skin infection to top it off! Wow, my body did not like coming back to Paraguay.... Hopefully it is all downhill from here!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

No, I'm not there anymore :(

So my Peace Corps service has come to a halt due to an unfortunate accident where I shattered my heel. My doctor said I had to have surgery to recover and sent me to Washington to have that surgery.

WARNING: ugly photo of my foot later!!

How it happened:
I was walking back from a meeting at the hospital (how ironic) and I was only about a half a block away from the hospital when I decided to stop at my friends house to get the English books I had lent her. At this point it was around 9pm, and completely dark. I crossed over this gutter (without realizing) to enter her house and I sat in some pretty bright lights for about 15 minutes and when I came out, I could see even less (haha) and I decided to walk across this path in front of her house (as seen in the photo) and tried to cross to the street, where the path ends (a little after the tree) and I could see the grass under the tree and there was only a small area that I couldn't see, but I just assumed it was also grass and I literally just stepped off the side of the gutter and landed at the bottom (about 4 and a half feet down) and landed right on my feet..but I landed really hard on my left foot and that's what caused the injury :(
After I fell, two neighbors helped pull me out and they drove me (half a block) BACK to the hospital and everyone, all the doctors and the mayor were still in the meeting and saw me all crying haha...I was saying that my ankle hurt (bc I thought it did) so they took an xray of my ankle and said it wasn't broken, and it wasn't until 5 days later that I got other xrays of my foot and we realized that it was actually my heel that was broken.

This is the first cast I had, which is partial soft cast.

I had one mad cankle due to the swelling from the plane ride!

This was my preparation for surgery. I had a pump on my foot to make the swelling go down and these funny socks to avoid blood clots.

Dad setting a good example for the other patients

In the waiting room before surgery the doctor gave me three choice for surgical hats so we had to model them a bit to make the right decision (I decided on the classic shower cap look)

Everyone had to try them on.

My awesome friends and family sent and brought me lots of flowers and cookies and movies and balloons!

Looks like I'll be here for about 4-6 months, so I'm brainstorming what I can do to take advantage of my time here and here are some ideas I came up with:

-Study more Guarani

-Begin to Work on my Thesis/Major Paper

-Practice Guitar

-Read lots of books

-Organize projects that I can implement when I return to Paraguay

-Get to know organizations (NGOs) that I want to support and follow and possibly decide which organizations I might be interested in for after Peace Corps employment

That's all for now!

CALL me if you are in NOVA :D

Monday, February 23, 2009

MY house :)

After almost three months of living in my own house, it's starting to come together very nicely... I was lucky to find a house that was fully furnished and in good shape. What happened was the owners of my house all moved to Spain to work, and they had to leave the majority of their stuff behind, but a lot of their family was worrying about their house because it was "solito" with nobody to take care of it. The climate, bugs and little creatures in Paraguay quickly invade and start to permanently damage the houses here and it's a lot better situation for the owners if they have someone to take care of the house, especially someone responsible like me :)

So I ended up talking to the owner's sister and she was very happy to let me live here, for FREE! well, I do pay for water, electricity and for lawn maintenance...but it comes out to 25 bucks a month. When I first moved in there were lots of frogs and lizards and spiders and all that good stuff, but now they are slowly moving out, but I still have a good many...but it's kind of inevitable.

Anywho, it still kind of looks like "grandmas house" considering all the furniture and pictures are still up from the family that lived here haha, but i am starting to put a few of my own touches to the place that is making it feel a little more like my own.

The part of my house that I'm the most proud of right now, is actually in my backyard. Me and two friends in the span of two hours made a compost pile out of bamboo and a type of metal wire (alambre in spanish). I hope that it will turn into some good soil in the next couple months to start my garden when it starts to cool down!

My Bedroom (Everyone is jealous of my floors!)

Living room/Dining room --The most grandma of it all...

An eclectic mix of my things and those left by the family..The plastic fruit and the picture of the last supper is theirs, and I added the books, flashlights and med kit haha (and some pics of the fam)

I have a nice bathroom, and one of the only shower curtains I've seen in the country! (I'm so spoiled)

Kitchen, with some nice new appliances and a semi-wash machine that makes your clothes smell better but doesn't actually clean them haha, but I use it anyways, but usually after a little handwashing..

My pride and joy-my compost pile! before I cleaned it up and filled it up! ...too bad I never got to get to the garden part...maybe next year?

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Yes, I'm still here!

I know it's been a long while and I should've upated this a billion years ago, but I figure now I actually have something to update you on. So after my 6 month mark in site (February 9th) I've finally done something successful in site, that is on a community level, and not just a personal one. Well, technically WE did four somethings successful... I'll explain.

Some of my closest volunteers consist of Laara, Jenny, and Andrew (who lives in a rural area that is technically part of my town, whether they want to admit it or not!) We ended up doing a three day camp in a rural part of Laara's town, a full day camp (including lunch) in Jenny's town, a two-day camp in Andrew's part of town, and ended summer camp season with a three day camp in Altos! Every camp was trying to give the kids something fun to do over their summer break while educating them a bit about the environment and the importance of taking care of the environment. Because I'm selfish, I'm just going to explain the highlights of my camp :)

Age Range: 6-14 years old

Participation: 35ish students daily

First Day:

We talked about TREES

-we all planted Cedro seeds in recycled milk boxes (20 or so of which came from my house, because I drink an insane amount of milk) and talked about the how to take care of them and they all took them home with them

-We had a theatre group perform a skit about DENGUE which involved General Fly and Dr. Clean hahahaha, I have a little on tape that I will try to upload!

Second Day:
We talked about ANIMALS

- we made bird masks that the kids were able to take home

- I started talked about the food pyramid until I basically got booed off stage (I consider that a highlight! a learning experience haha)

-played the deforestation game, which is always a hit :) (Some people are trees, animals, and humans, and we see what happens to the animals when the humans cut down all the trees)

Third Day:
We talked about TRASH and it's affect on the environment

- We did the decomposition line activity--they each have a peice of trash and they have to place it on the time line to show how much time it takes that peice of trash to decompose.

- We talked about ways to REUSE their peices of trash, since recycling isn't really an option here..and reusing is better anyways.

Everyday we sang songs in Guarani and Spanish and played games to get them up and moving!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Christmas Vacation: Uruguay and Argentina!!

A lot of people decided to head home or see a little more of South America during the Christmas holiday, mainly because it is nearly impossible get work done during this time of year because everyone has already checked out..

I started my holiday vacation by visiting my original host family in Guarambare, where I participated in a family tradition of decorating the tree and nativity scene. My Host Mom, Gudelia, has the yellow shirt and my host nephew has the red shirt on.

This is the love of my life, Fabricio. jijijiji, the son of my Host Sister, Azucena

The view coming into Punto del Este, Uruguay, A big tourist destination for Brazilians..

A beautiful look out peak in Punto del Este.

At the pier, these crazy guys were waiting for some fisherman scraps (right outside the yacht club)

Nice lighthouse made into a home in downtown Punto Del Este

"Mano de Dios" or Hand of God sculpture on Sculpture Beach, I swear Punto del Este had a beach for everything.. Surfing, Relaxing, Partying, and apparently Sculptures..

Downtown Montevideo, Uruguay. We went to a bustling market where people cook the food right in front of you and enjoyed some "mixtas" which I think was white wine mixed with champagne... It is a very popular place to socialize on Fridays and Saturdays to celebrate the end of the work week.

We took a day trip to Colonia, which is a awesome riverside town across the river from Buenos Aires.

Beautiful streets and architecture in Colonia

My travel buddies, Karen on my right and Laara on my left.

On the way back from Colonia we passed the afternoon in Laara's cousin's country home.

This is Laara's second cousin on the pony... He was three years old and just rode bareback all around the house...The yellow house was built Laara's Family.

The countryside made for the perfect sunset! We also drove about 15 minutes to the beach where we rode on her cousin's Katamaran, which was beautiful as well!

After a little over a weeks time in Uruguay, we took a three hour boat ride from Colonia to Bueno Aires, Argentina and spent about 5 days exploring the beautiful city.

We got a little taste of the Argentinian Tango on the boat ride over!

The Busy streets of Buenos Aires!!
Happy New Years Eve!

We went to see a Tango show and the restaurant gave us these crazy costumes

They also provided the silly string for the midnight celebration!

Found this Street sign representing Paraguay by doing the Paraguayan "high-five"

The biggest cemetery ever in the Recoleta part of Buenos Aires.

La Plaza de Mayo where they still have the marches of the "Madres de los desaparecidos" or "Mothers of the disappeared" who protest every Thursday on behalf of their children who were kidnapped during the dictatorship and were never seen again...very sad.

"La Casa Rosasada" The famous Pink House where Evita used to give her speeches and is still used as the President's place of work.

"Palermo Viejo" which reminds of of a Georgetown kind of area, with old historic neighborhoods and cute restaurants and shops.

One day we went to the zoo!

Laara and Karen on the oldest subway train that is still running in the world (apparently!)

One of the last parts of town that we visited is called "Caminito" and it's supposed to be the artisan part of town.. you can see all the buildings in the background are painted with lots of different colors. It was also VERY touristy, but I liked the artisan markets because you could find a lot of unique pieces.

Overall the trip was the perfect balance. The first week in Uruguay was really relaxed with an amazing tour guide (Laara's Aunt) and a beautiful home to stay in. The second week in Buenos Aires we had a little more independence staying in a hostel and a little more high energy in such a bustling city. Was a great trip with amazing people and I can't wait to see more of Argentina because it has sooo much to offer!!!!
<3 Julie