Saturday, September 12, 2009

Snippets and Males and Puppydog Tales

More cows in the road

Erin and Melissa on the radio

My cousin Liliana who thinks she´s a model

Me and my Snuggy

Flaquito and friends

When one is a a volunteer in the Peace Corps in Paraguay, life can get pretty interesting, and it might be too complicated to explain in full detail here, but I can, however, give you little snippets of life to help give you a general idea...

So I think my stalker has given up. This is good news because it was pretty intense and annoying for a while. See, back when I was green and naive in my first few days here (not seasoned and wise, like now), this guy came up to me at a group coop event and started talking to me. I couldn´t really understand what he was talking about and he just kept mentioning all these Americans he knew. Then he asked for my number and, thinking that he just collected American friends, I gave it to him. He started texting that night - "Where are you? I want to see you? Do you like me? What are your second names?" (names are a big deal here and everyone has 2 or three first names and 2 last names - people always want to know them so they can mentally put you in a box based on who your family is. I don´t understand why this system works because to me it seems like there´s only like 5 last names in all of Paraguay and everyone has some combination of those, so it can´t signify much). I didn´t tell him anything important but when he texted me at 6:52 the next morning to tell me good morning, that was my last straw. I wrote back and told him he was crazy and to never write me again. This was a mistake because it started a torrent of texts and calls, mostly along the lines of "What did I do? Please just talk to me? I don´t understand what I did wrong..." and later, thinking either that he´s clever or I´m stupid, "I have questions for you about coops. I want to ask your advice about marketing."
When I talked about the situation with other Paraguayans, they couldn´t understand why I was upset - "How romantic to tell you good morning! Oh he´s wooing you!" And the worst, "Is he going to be your boyfriend?" What in the US is grounds for a restraining order is normal courting behavior here. After a week of no response, he finally gave up, but I definitely learned not to give out my number.

I´ve been hanging out with my cousin Flaquito (skinny) a lot lately, and through him, a new group of friends my age. We hang out at people´s houses or go out to karaoke bars. He has a friend who speaks English because he used to hang out with a group of British guys. I think they were soccer hooligans, though, because his every other word is Fuck. I´m teaching Flaquito English, but only the cusswords, and I taught him "to fuck" (er, wait, I didn´t mean it like...I meant the verb, fuck it - take that however you want). There was a little tension because he thought his friend and I were arranging something along those lines, since that´s the only word he understood. I explained that it´s also used for emphasis and his friend is just really intense.

Flaquito is great, though. He´s what we call here a Bromista (jokester). It´s hard enough for me to understand what´s going on in any given situation, let alone when he just makes up random stuff to see if I catch it. I kind of hate it because I always fall for it and then feel gullible, but it´s good because he always keeps me on my toes.

I went to church with my family again because it was my mamá´s baptism (whole body under in a giant tub of yellowing water). Some things to note about the 2.5 hr "culto" (amazingly appropriate name for the mass service) were: The preacher talked about how all the money Michael Jackson had didn´t make him as happy as the light of God made him (the preacher). However, the walls and stage of the church are made of marble, and the dancing girls have a whole closet full of different outfits (that day it was midnight purple and skyblue, satin), and it was a little ridiculous to see these obviously poor campo people in mishapen clothes getting blessed as they handed over the donation envelopes to this preacher in a very expensive suit. I concluded that clearly money doesn´t make him UNhappy. I was just thinking how stupid and what torture the whole thing was when they asked for the people who felt God for the first time that day to come to the front, and my sister-in-law went...another one bites the dust.

Then, this little 6yr old, who I thought was a boy until she said her name was Jessica, became enamored with me. After spotting me, she spent a good part of the service backward in her chair, STARING, and lighting up whenever I smiled at her. I´m pretty sure she thought I was an angel, so I tried to look extra pretty, so as not to disappoint her. Then she motioned for me to bend down and sweetly whicpered in my ear, "Are you wearing makeup?" I was, for like the first time in Paraguay, and clearly it's a little odd, so I might not again.

The best part, though, was when my sobrino (nephew) was sticking his tongue through the slats in the back of his chair, while his brother tried to catch his tongue with his feet, the effect being that he licked the bottom of his brother´s shoes over and over again, which they thought was hilarious (their mom didn´t stop them because she was busy being saved).

The reason I like Julio the dog so much, other than how one ear stands up and the tip of the other flops over, is because he´s so smart. Before I came he lived between 3 houses that would regularly feed him table scraps. When I started paying attention to him and giving him a little love, he took that as an invitation to join the family. He used to only stay outside, but every day he moves a little further and further into the house. The day he made it down the hall and set one foot in my doorway, my sister flipped out, and shoed him out, yelling (this incidentally, is the exact same reaction she had when Flaquito set one foot in my room to tell me something - that´s a big no-no here). Still, he´s seen his opening and we find him sleeping in the kitchen all the time now. I don´t want to adopt him because I don´t want him to become dependent on me, but vamos a ver (we´ll see).

So I have this pretty intense fear of being on the radio, and the last time it happened, in Tacuati, I froze up and couldn´t say much of anything. I believe I´ve said before how life very conveniently lines up lessons for me, and of course this is no exception. I was invited to be on TV last week with Melissa and Erin, and refused since that´s even worse than radio, so that´s when karma stepped in. Within hours of each other, Paulette and Melissa called to ask me to be on their radio shows because their partners couldn´t make it. If I didn´t do it now, it was just going to come back and haunt me, so I agreed. Paulette´s show was fun - she´s covering the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, and we covered Habit 4 and played regaton music.

Afterwards, though, the bus I was supposed to catch didn´t leave because there was nobody on it at the station (Ay, Paraguay), so...impromptu slumber party! We had a pillow-fight in our panties and there were feathers EVERYWHERE! Just kidding, we´re not the pillow-fight types and all the pillows nad mattresses here are made of this slightly soggy and disintegrating, dark-yellow foam. Actually, we had marshmallows with a little hot chocolate and I read David Sedaris outloud while she made ao poí. The highlight was that I slept in a Snuggy (I took a picture) (Also, I´ve heard rumors of Snuggy parties in the US. Anyone who knows more about it please tell me- it cracks me up).

The radio show with Melissa went really well, too. We talked about sexuality and sex myths in a public service announcement sort of way, and I got to ask her questions like "Meli, is it true that certain yuyos can restore viginity?" (no, and you should NEVER put yuyos in the vagina) and "After anal or oral sex, are you still a virgin?" (well, that´s really a personal and cultural decision)...So, now you know. So when Erin leaves in December, I´m going to do that show with her every week. Oh, my, how I´m growing as a person here.

So, if you haven´t heard by now, Paraguay is going to the World Cup in 2010. I cannot describe how freaking enormous that is, but just to give you a glimpse of it: each time Paraguay wins a futbol game, a spontaneous caravan of cars and motos, everyone wearing jerseys and waving flags, takes to the streets to make a honking, screaming procession through the city...and that´s just a regular game. For the game when they qualified for S. Africa, there were caravans and fireworks and ALL THE SCHOOLS AND BUSINESSES WERE CLOSED THE NEXT DAY. Yep, seriously. I love this place.

It´s not all fun and games, though. I´ve been working at the coop job-shadowing and researching virtual libraries. Turns out they asked for a volunteer because a guy at the coop read an article about virtual libraries, which I can sum up for you right now...[throat clear] "Virtual libraries are great! You should have one!" This encompasses everything they know about them, and they thought I was just going to come in and do it. Actually, they thought all we had to do was scan some books into the computer, buy a couple more computers and Viola! We had a little talk about how my job was actually to teach them how to do things, not do it for them, because that´s not development. We also had to discuss a little thing called copyright laws (the answer to this, I swear, word for word, was, "Copyright laws? Psshhh. Who cares, it´s Paraguay.") So everyhting´s going well, but, you know, baby steps. I´m done job-shadowing at the coop and will spend the next couple weeks job-shadowing at libraries with digital databases (which is actually what they want- a virtual library is just the internet).

I´ve also started developing a marketing plan with a group called CCAB, who run community centers in the area and do lots of projects to help kids. I love it because good stuff is actually getting done.

So, that´s what´s going on with me. And you?

1 comment:

  1. Nice. I am glad you are suitably challenged. I wonder what your 'on-air' personality is like. I am sure you are glad to see good stuff happening. The work with CCAB sounds great. Too too funny the fellow Peace Corp who said "you need an internet library" and Poof!!...... Angie appears in Paraguay.

    I am going to cut my living space at the stone house down to 1/3 (the kitchen bath part) to try and survive the winter. I have not built up the firewood pile enough and i am worried. cutting wood all i can now, thank god mark dropped a small mountain of logs in my side drive.
    Work as a courier is paying the bills. Im down to a semi sane 60 hr week AND i am finally healed CompleTe from the 2 accidents.... so i can get a few things done.
    Both insurance settlements they low balling me so i am now talking with a recomended attorney.....wish i had your skills some your good settlements. Still preaching no corn everywhere I go.
    New roommate, Shane. Room at base of steps. What can i say? No roommate compares? lol ;)
    Going up to jeff poppens for the bd conf. early oct. Cooking and talking about bees.

    So if obama sends milatary aid to columbia, and russia gives free military aid to venezula...........this dont look good. But i think is posturing and cock struting.
    Did you see where the usa went into Somalia and took out the wanted terrorist?
    Obama wants to Force me to get healthcare… ??? he says his plan wont cost the gov. a penny, but I think it will cost me plenty. I need healthcare but I don’t like what they are talking. I bet they don’t help me see my chiropractor!

    Go! Paraguay! Go! The world cup that’s awesome! Talk about a cultural experience. I hope they win so you see some folks go nuts paraguain(?) style.



Chuchi - this is probably my new most popular word. It means snobby or fancy, but is used in the Peace Corps as anything nicer than dirt roads and shacks, or for a person, anyone who showers with hot water. Living in the city, I am super chuchi for here.

Fuerte - literally means strong, but because the culture is based on talking around everything, it´s when a person says anything they want in a direct way - it means asshole

Puede ser and otro dia - literally means "could be" or "another day", but because noone will directly blow someone off, both of them mean "never" and are the answer to a question of when something will happen

Deseas, en tus sueños, Que Arriba Perra/o and Es lo qué es - these are the terrible translations of American sayings that are not used here and don´t really translate, but we say them anyway. Literally they mean "you wish", "in your dreams", "What´s up bitch/dog?" and "it is what it is"

Qué guapa - this means "what a hard worker" and is used by Paraguayans every time I do ANYTHING manual, including carrying a dish to the sink or sweeping out my room. I don´t think they have high expectations for Americans and work.

Saludos - sending saludos by way of a mutual friend is how people tell each other they have a crush on them. The most serious kinds are given with a pinch on the arm and they mean business.

Thumbs up - this is done everywhere here and is a simple answer to pretty much any question. I will probably have carpal tunel in my thumbs when I leave here because I do this so much.

No se como comer esta - this is how one refuses food in Paraguay. Literally, it´s "I don´t know how to eat this" which creates an internal struggle for me each time it´s said because I want to be a smartass and explain that, just like any other food, you put in in your mouth and chew, but I don´t think that´s acceptable here.

No Más and Un poco - this is said after almost every phrase for no real reason other than to make everything sound like it´s not a big deal, even when it really is. Literally, it´s "No More" and "A Little", so the translations are something like "Sit down no more", "Come here a little", and "Do you want dinner no more?"

Cocido - this is a hot drink mixed by carmellizing sugar with a little yerba, adding just enough water to wet it, and then adding more sugar. It´s served by the thermos-full just before bed.

Mosto - this is to sugar what crack is to cocaine. It´s a "tradional" drink capable of putting even the sweetest tooth into a diabetic coma, and is served continuously at fun gatherings like funerals.

Ch-ch-ch-ch - this is the sound Paraguayans make to get each others´attention - like "Psst" . It´s especially used for catcalling, and they have nothing to follow it with - they just want you to look.