The renovations on my rooms are officially finished, which means that I now have time to start working in the schools. But before I start talking about my project, I’d like to introduce you all to my new host family, the Ibañezes. In direct contrast to my Guarambaré family, I now live in a family of women (but, notably, the bathroom is equally disgusting.) There’s Ña Hilda, the profoundly corpulent and lovable matriarch; Carmen, a 35-year-old teacher, single mother of four, and my community contact; Angie, a sweet, long-legged 14-year-old; Gianella, a very intelligent and hard-working 3rd grader; and Mel Irene, an almost two-year-old who is very naughty and cute and reminds me of me (Carmen also has a teenaged son named Jorge, but he lives with his aunt in the campaña.) The abuela generates a bit of income by running a pension familiar, or family boardinghouse. That basically means that I’m not the only tenant. A nineteen-year-old law student named Juanita lives in a room connected to mine through an inside window, and three or four people live in a different building behind the house. I see Juana regularly and we exchange awkward pleasantries, but I almost never interact with the guys who live behind the house proper. I think they work during the day and study at night, so their rooms are only for sleeping. The other tenants have a strictly business relationship with the señora, but I’m more or less treated like a long-term guest. I eat with the family, play with the baby, watch TV, and use their internet. They know that I don’t have gente in San Pedro, so they do their best to keep me company and make sure I’m doing okay.
Right now, I’m renting two rooms from them, but only living in the one because I don’t have stuff to put in my kitchen yet. Everyone in the family has been extremely kind and accommodating, which has been a blessing these past couple weeks. I’ve heard stories from other volunteers about how their host families don’t give them enough personal breathing room--entering without knocking, not taking the hint, etc.--but I haven’t had any sort of issue in that respect. And, not surprisingly, Ña Hilda is super proud of my rooms because of the new flooring and paint. I see this as a true win-win: a get to live with a great host family without paying rent for five months, and they get a much cleaner, prettier, and safer section of the house once I move out.
...I’m getting really tired, so I’m going to postpone writing about my job until next time.
Jajotopata, nos vemos, or until we meet again,
P.S. Ña is a term of respect used in PY that comes from the word Doña. It’s not my landlady’s first name.