Sunday, July 17, 2011

Wait, What? We We're Supposed to be Blogging This Whole Time?

I once again have to apologize for the abnormally long gap between blog posts. But in our defense, we've been super busy lately watching The Wire...err...helping the good people of Paraguay.

Here are a few quick highlights of what we've been up to and the goings-on down here in South America over the past month or so:

We Gave Kids Drugs- Me and the Mrs. got all the local kids hooked on our stash. We've been straight hustling the anti-parasite med Mebendazol (street names: M-Boogie, Raid, Dr. Bendo) for weeks on the corners and at the schools where we work. Mebendazol tastes sweet like bananas but still gives you that good high that comes from killing all the worms in your intestines. There ain't a single kid in Barrio Virgen de Fatima, grades Pre-K through 9 that hasn't sampled our product. Have I mentioned how much Wire we've watched of late?

It Actually Got Cold (and yes, we used a space-heater)- It was legitimately chilly here south of the equator for about a week in late June. And do you know what Paraguayans do when the thermostat drops below 50F? Nothing, literally. Kids didn't go to school. Parents skipped out on work. Meetings were cancelled. Fiestas postponed. But it's not only social responsibilities that take a holiday when there's a nip in the air. The water tank in our front yard that supplies the whole nabe overflowed for three straight days and we couldn't figure out why. We complained to our one-armed plumber, Juan Carlos, and his explanation was simple: "The tank is overflowing because no one uses water when it's so cold. No one is showering or washing their clothes right now." Maybe all those cancellations weren't such a bad idea in hindsight.

There's a Cat in the House- Apparently, our neighbors thought a flea-ridden, dreadlocked kitten was just what our humble abode was missing. We named her "Bicho" (Spanish for bug; pronounced "beach-o") after her favorite food and after what is currently crawling both in and outside her tiny, malnourished frame. She's actually been a godsend. Every time I start thinking how nice it would be for someone to trip me or randomly start scratching my legs for no reason, Bicho's there to answer the call. Just when I was starting to worry our moldy shower wasn't gross enough; Bicho has turned it into her own private litter box. And who needs an alarm clock when you can be awoken every morning before dawn by a cat trying to nurse on your nose, fingers, feet and crotch with tiny, razor-sharp teeth? It's customary in Paraguay to repay one gift with another. I'm still undecided how to payback my neighbors for Bicho. Right now, it's a toss-up between a fruit basket and taking a dump on their front porch.

Are You Ready for Some Futbol?-The entire country has been enthralled watching the Pride of Paraguay, the men's national soccer team, compete in this year's Copa America tournament in Argentina. Paraguay has fought its way into the quarterfinals following three thrilling matches in group play--all ties! ...sigh

Norte Americanos Teaching Norte Americanos How to Be Paraguayan- A group of about 60 American high school students descended upon our site as part of an exchange student program. And who better to teach these gringos about Paraguayan history and culture than the hand-full of Americans who have lived in said country for only a few months? These poor saps paid $6000 to come live with a Paraguayans for six weeks and it was up to us and a few other Peace Corps volunteers to show them the ropes before they moved in with their new families. We taught them a few phrases in Guarani, Paraguayan table etiquette (including when it's appropriate to spit on the floor or blow your nose in the tablecloth), showed them how to construct brick ovens called fogones and what kind of reaction to expect from your host community--get ready for a lot of uncomfortable staring kiddos!

Well, that about sums anything of note we've done in the past month. Carly's still teaching English every week and helping area kids learn better. I'm still giving awkward health charlas and looking into the sun in my free time.

The next few weeks are going to be pretty hectic. We have a 4-day camp starting tomorrow and we're expecting anywhere from 80 to 100 kids. The plan is to make it an art/theatre/dance/sports camp. I will be teaching the little rascals how to properly throw a frisbee. Carly's in charge of everything else.

The following week we have to head back into the capital of Asuncion for some more training. Word on the street is I will be learning how to talk to Paraguayans about various STDs. If my complete lack of language skills didn't make being in front of the classroom awkward enough before, just imagine me bumbling along for an hour while simultaneously trying to fit a condom on a banana.

After training, we're slotted to help Un Techo Para Mi Pais (South America's version of Habitat for Humanity) build 40 houses in our site for a few days before we had back to Asuncion to run the Bicentenario Half Marathon.

We'll blog about it all at some point. Until then, amigos.

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