Monday, August 2, 2010

Making Out With the President and Breastfeeding My Kittens

Ok, so I'm a slacker. I've never claimed otherwise. Granted, here I'm called hard working for sweeping my patio or watering my garden, but clearly the standards are lower. So here is another half-assed update of what's been going on in my life in the last month.

The camp we did in January was set up to meet again to reward the projects the kids had been working on. It's a lot of work getting the money to do those things, so the planners worked it out to go to Ayolas, which was free, (and we soon found out why). There was a big compound area where the workers lived while the dam was being built in the 70's.

A good tip for those planning camps in the future is to put your camp in a super-creepy abandoned compound with junked out car graveyards and an abandoned and delapidated kitchen that could be straight out of Saw VI.
It works really well to:
1. Build solidarity (as no one will go out alone), and
2. curb misbehavior (because one glance at the giant broken heating ducts over the still forming lake in the corner, and the rusted industrial sized ovens and boilers lets them know that no one would find the bodies should anyone get out of line.)

The camp went really well! The new G was invited, so the newbies got to see how to do a camp. The jovenes had to do charlas (to show they learned something over the last 6 months) and they were all motivated and happy. Here are some pics, conveniently leaving out the creepy parts.
Clara, me, Marilia, and David
One of the dinamicas

Ayolas is at the very southern tip of Paraguay, right next to 2nd biggest dam, Ycyreta, which big source of Paraguayan money, and a giant altar to the gods of civil and industrial engineering. The last day, we got a tour.

The next week, there was La Expo, which is this huge event outside of Asuncion where every business in Paraguay uses hot girls to demonstrate things (cell phones, I can understand, icecream, I can understand, but banks and sustainable farming NGO's? Really? Yes, In Paraguay, yes). I went with 20 jovenes from Carayao, a feat of bravery in itself.
Tour Bus

This band makes all the Paraguayan girls scream. I don't see it.
Hanging with my jovenes, Lider, Vicki, Diana, and Margarita
This guy really gets me going.

We spent most of the day going from booth to booth so the guys could get pictures next to the hot girls for their Orkut and Facebook pages, but for me the day had two main highlights: 1.
Barack was there.
First we talked about the future of the economy and a bunch of other important stuff, pausing for the photo op...
And then we made out a little

And 2 was the Kamikaze, which is way more fun when the alternative rides are rickety looking ferris wheels are crappy little trains that go in a circle. It's no 6 Flags, but...

Thrilling, nonetheless.

Then I had a group of the Newbies come stay in Oviedo for a week for Long Field, where they followed me around and learned how things are done. (PS - it turns out I know how things are done). It went really well.
Notice how clean and full of hope they look. Ah, newbies.
Lindsay, Mark, Carolina, Mario, Me, Devon, and Andrea

So that's how I spent the last half of July. Whenever there was down time, however, I enjoyed my new hobby of breastfeeding my kittens. It cracks me up - every time I lay down to read or rest, they start suckling the tassles on my blanket. They're super intense about it, kneading their little paws and fighting over the best tassle. Very entertaining.


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.