Sunday, October 22, 2006

A Brief Update


I don´t have much time in the Cyber Cafe, but I will tell you what I can:

Last weekened I visited a current volunteer, Danny Westerhoff, to see how life in the PC truly is. I travelled the first leg of the trip on my own and met Dan in Encarnacion. We spent the night in a hotel before awaking the next day to meet up with a school that he works with. As one large group, we travelled to Jesuit Ruins and had a brief history lesson (the sights were incredible).

That night we travelled the rest of the way to Danny´s house and I got my first taste of a PCV´s life. His house didn´t have electricity for the weekend so we had to cook by candlelight. When I went to the out door bathroom, I could see Argentina off in the distance and I truly felt far away from everything.

At his site, Dan was involved in just about everything and give me a lot of ideas for what I hope to do when I eventually am sworn in as a volunteer. Everything from beekeeping, women´s committees, teaching english, bringing computers to the local school, setting up demonstration gardens, training for a marathon, writing in the PC newsletter, etc etc. A true jack of all trades.

The stars at his site were also noteworthy. Almost blinding in their intensity, I was awe struck every night I stepped out of his house.

While working at his highschool on Sunday, Dan overheard one of the girls say in Guarani that I was, ¨less ugly than Dan.¨ I suppose I´ll take what I can get.

I eventually returned to my training community (a 10-hour night bus) and resumed my studies this week. We have begun with more Guarani and also have spent more time in the apiary.

On our fourth trip out to the hives, we encountered our most aggressive hive to date. While doing our revisions, one beekeeper caught a stinger in the eyelid (which somehow made it into his veil) and left to try to remove it. Another suffered about 10 stings in a few minutes and left as well. It was down to myself, another volunteer, and our trainer. However, I couldn´t even see my trainer because of the intensity of the swarm.

We eventually were given the "abort" command and escaped from the Apiary. As instructed, we wove our ways in a serpentile fashion through the 7-foot tall field of caña plants. Bees fly in a straight line (hence ¨bee line") and can be lost if you weave and move like a snake while you exit. We found, however, that the bees were so upset that they followed us for another 15 minutes after we left. If you can imagine a clumsy giant, fully dressed in what seems like a Haz-mat suit, cutting through a field of green while puffing occasional smoke, cursing, laughing, and tripping on occasion, all while under the hot Paraguayan sun, then you can see what I´ve been doing during training. This is what a BA from DePaul Univeristy will get you, I suppose.

My nights have been filled with card games, homework, and Terrere Tea (their local drink of choice). I´ve helped at the local chapel with a children´s youth group, attended a few prayer services for my departed Paraguayan grandmother, and continue to better my Spanish.

Spanish update: I´ve moved on from jokes and have tried my hand at riddles and puns. I am feeling more comfortable in the past, present, and future tenses while occasionally mixing in a hint of the subjunctive. I have found that as my language improves, so does my relationship with my family and community, and all the better for my overall happiness.

My health has been good (despite the occasional bee stings) and training continues to challenge and reward me in a variety of ways. I can´t believe tomorrow makes 4 weeks since I left for Miami. Wow.

Well, keep in touch, and write when you can.

(Pictures to come soon)


Blogger L.S. said...

Something today made me think of you...joining the peace corp. I hope you keep this up since it really is quite the gift.

9:18 AM


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