Sockless in the Embassy
That's it. 11 weeks of training passed in the blink of an eye. If I were to come home right now, I would still feel glad that I had joined the Peace Corps for everything I've learned and experienced so far. Here's a rough "highlight reel":
- I've managed to receive a slew of nicknames already in my training site. A few have been:
- 1) "Casey Mokoi (or Casey Dos)" meaning I'm not the #1 Casey
- 2) "Crazy Hudetz" (but pronounced "Craasi" from Carlito my host
- brother) 3)"Mi amigo apicultor" ("My Beekeeping Friend", given to me from my neighbor) and 4) "Mormon Elefante" ("Mormon Elephant", from Carlito again. I don't know where he got that).
-My neighbor is in a band called "Frequency Nueva" and while riding on a bus, I heard one of his songs on the radio.
-After being tested in languages I passed both Spanish and Guarani. I managed to give my thank you speech at my community's going away party in Guarani and it seemed to go over well.
-Was voted "Most likely to go Native" by the other beekeepers, meaning I'm the least likely to be seen again by other volunteers after we go out to our sites. I guess we'll see.
We all swore in December 15th at the embassy and got to meet the ambassador to Paraguay. During our designated snack time, I asked him what I would have to do to be granted political asylum, if such an occasion were to arise, and he told me that the Embassy in Paraguay doesn't grant it. I said I suppose I should keep out of trouble then, and he agreed. Not even a smile through the whole interaction! I hope he knows I was joking.
That night we all moved ourselves down to our "Bienvenidos" party. Before coming into the Peace Corps, I had heard how crazy parties could get, and this one lived up to its name. Here´s a run down:
-Peace Corps volunteers who were swearing-out set up the whole event at an ABANDONED hotel over looking the Rio Paraguaya. Back in its day, Dictator Stroessner and his cronies would throw extravagant parties on these grounds.
-Although I didn´t participate (I ran out of time) there was a full fledged "Superhero" theme to our party. The Environmental Education folk had full outfits to represent the different stages of the Experimental Learning Cycle (The "Ice Breaker" and "Reflector" etc. Very clever that group is). They came alive in true West-Side-Story-fashion during the competition, but were outshined by the "SuperMercados" of Paraguay (Get it? Supermarket? Superheros? These people went all out.).
-My family is involved in a Tobbaco Committe in their community. They are the cutting and packaging department. Throughout training there was drying tobacco on their floor, rolled cigars in baggies of 100 , and big shipments being filled. I managed to buy one such bag of cigarillos from my family to bring with to the party for 5 Mil Guarani (=Roughly 1 US Dollar) and they went fast.
-The trainer for Agro-Forestry brought the house down with a solo break dance performance on a backlit mini-colloseum.
-There was one kiddy-type wading pool that was full of water and one olympic size pool that was empty. The kiddy-type was grounds for general dunking, threatened chicken fights, and half-formulated reflections on training. However, by utilizing the superhero´s capes from Environmental Education, we were able to use the Olympic size pool as a slip-and-slide venue. There were only about 5 or 6 of us, but we managed to redefine the sport forever (The bruises and skinned elbows shall act as our trophies).
I hope that that party, which seemed to be the capstone* of our training, can act as a metaphor for how we will all perform for the next two years. Saying "yes" to the possibilities, using what´s around us to improve ourselves and others, and just enjoying it all the way through. What a perfect send off.
I leave for my site tomorrow evening and my goal is to be there for as long as possible before resurfacing. I want to find the pulse of the community and put my thumb on it. "Most likely to go native," perhaps, but hopefully that also means "most likely have another culture coursing through my veins." Jahechata.
When I do return from the first (and supposedly hardest) installment of my service, you will be the first to know (My goal is roughly a month or two).
Happy Holidays and keep me in your thoughts.
1) The Abandoned hotel
2) At the embassy after swearing-in, joined by the Environmental Education clan (Pre-Super Hero-Status)
3) My Christmas Card for the rest of my life
4) At my going away party in my community with friends (from right to left) Ariel and "You are Assunn" Christian
5) A picture from earlier in training with my Beekeeping Counterpart (and all around amazing guy) Jeremy
*I didn´t put that definition there because I thought you didn´t know what it meant (I´m sure you did). Rather it seemed to sum up what I was trying to say in just the right ways and I wanted to make sure that metaphor was understood. Okay that´s enough.
My Address now has changed. You can now send all of those encouraging handwritten letters to:
Casey Hudetz PCV
Cuerpo de Paz
162 Chaco Boreal c/ Mcal. Lopez
Asuncion 1580, Paraguay