Paraguay is such a weird and wonderful place. In honor of my one month anniversary in country, I'm going to compile a list of some of my favorite and not-so-favorite things thus far.
1. 5 brothers. They've got my back, get me out of awkward situations, and enhance my social life. Awesome.
2. Cremosita cookies. I'm totally, hopelessly addicted to this brand of cookie. They're made in Bolivia, cost a palry 1 mil (around 20 cents) and are readily available at every neighborhood dispensa. I eat them nearly everyday.
3. Mis amigos. I truly think I've lucked out with the group I'm in. At least thus far, everyone works and plays well together.
4. My mosquito net. My host mom helped me put it up yesterday. I heart my ghetto green canopy--it makes me feel like I'm in the Peace Corps. Plus, it keeps me dengue-free.
5. The cost of beer. It's cheap. Really, really cheap.
6. Tereré. I've quickly learned to like this beverage and the ritual that goes with it. It's especially useful because I get super antsy during our training sessions, and tereré gives me the perfect excuse to move around. No one says anything when I prepare the drink and act as the server. In fact, it's considered guapa (hard working) of me to do so. Win-win. Plus, yerba mate has energizing properties, so it keeps me awake. I'm in the market for my own tereré pitcher, but I'm holding off until I go to San Lorenzo, where they have shops that customize the termos.
7. The plaza. I really like Guarambaré's plaza, or city center. The church and city administation buildings are here, as well as a park and a line of businesses.
8. Visiting Misiones. I had a great short field visit with a volunteer named Natasha. She was super welcoming, friendly, and willing to let me sleep in. Plus Misiones is a lovely part of the country. I especially enjoyed seeing the Ahecha photo exhibit in San Juan (Ahecha, which means "I see" in Guaraní, is a PC-run photography workshop for kids and young adults. I intend to do this project in my perminent site.)
9. Playing games. Whether it be icebreakers in class or volleyball at Jonathan's house, I've been having a great time playing with my peers/Paraguayan kids. Plus, my youngest brother thinks Uno is the shit.
10. Adios! Instead of saying "hola" or "buen día," everybody here says "adios" when passing someone on the street. It's a really nice tradition, plus for me it helps curb the staring.
1. Red dirt. Most of the streets here are not paved, and red dirt has gotten into EVERYTHING, including my suitcases, my purse, my hair, my fingernails, my bed, you name it. Nearly all of my shoes are ruined. This one doesn't seem like that big of a deal, but every Paraguayan I know wages an unending battle with the stuff. Plus when it rains, all of that red dirt turns into red mud.
2. Dirty bathroom. This situation is the result of my five brothers plus the red dirt. Without getting into the gorry details, let's just say it's really, really disgusting. And filled with bugs.
3. Mosquitos. Speaking of bugs, let's talk about my mortal enemy, the mosquito. Apparently I have sweet-smelling skin/blood because they will not leave me alone.
4. Mi horario. Actually, my schedule here doesn't suck that bad, but I regularly find myself overwhelmed and underslept. Plus, it is not cool that the Peace Corps schedules training events on Saturday morning. Hear that, Peace Corps? Not. cool.
5. The food. Okay, okay, it's tolerable, but let's just say I dream of the day I'll have full control of my diet again. I am, of course, not including Cremosita cookies in my assessment of Paraguayan foodstuffs.
6. Piropos. The dreaded catcall. The men here think that hissing at me will get them a date. How wrong they are.
7. The humidity. It gets really hot and humid here. I knew that going into it, but it's not something I'll ever enjoy. Luckily, this past week has been cooler in the mornings and evenings.
8. Awkwardness. This is a general one, but sometimes life here gets super awkward. It has to do with cultural differences, language barriers, nothing to say, etc. A third-year volunteer told us that we'll become so expert at handling awkward situations that we'll be able to put it on our resumes.
9. Not being allowed into Asunción without permission. This is a new PC policy meant to enhance our safety as trainees. Once we swear in as volunteers, we can travel more or less freely throughout the country, but for now it's an annoyance. Especially because we can't go to the Shakira concert. Boo, hiss.
10. Language difficulties. Sometimes I get frustrated with Jopara (the Spanish-Guaraní hybrid) because I've worked so hard to aquire Spanish. Now I have to throw parts of another language into the mix. Honestly though, I go back and forth between this one. I like learning about languages, so it's really interesting to me on an intellectual level. I'm still in the adjustment process on this one.
Overall, I'd definitely say that the good has outweighed the bad. I'm happy to be here, and thrilled that volunteer swear-in is only a month and a half away :)