It’s hard to believe that I’ve been in San Pedro for over a month. May has definitely been a month of high and low points, but I think I’m finally getting into the swing of things. Besides my renovations, I’ve been keeping myself busy by visiting a couple of local elementary schools and hanging out with the teachers. It’s disheartening just how broken the system is; there have been days I haven’t wanted to leave my bedroom and enter the schools. I’ll dedicate another post to some of the specific problems my community faces education-wise, but for now I’ll try and focus on the positive. The teachers are happy I’m here. They want me to work with them. And for the most part, they genuinely want to help their students. That’s what I keep telling myself when I get up in the morning. I’m actually really lucky that people are interested in my project--the trick is not to let myself get too overwhelmed.
Here are some of this month’s highlights:
Completion of my Renovations
I know I’ve discussed this in earlier posts, but it’s really improved my quality of life.
Apparently they’re really poisonous and I shouldn’t touch them. I saw one of them in my room on my very first night in site and had no idea they were dangerous. Good thing I’m not very curious when it comes to reptiles. (Note: they really are see-through, like that weird kind of tropical fish my brother used to have.)
Thinking I was Going to Starve
Peace Corps gives volunteers a smallish moving in allowance when we first get to site. I received mine on swearing-in weekend (April 19-21) and used almost all of it to fix up my rooms. By the middle of this month, money was running VERY tight, to the point that I thought I would run out completely. I tried to take money out of my personal account, but to no avail. Luckily, when I went to the bank, I was happily surprised to find that I had gotten payed at the beginning of May and had more than enough money to eat.
On Saturday, May 14, Paraguay celebrated its bicentennial. In reality, the country has been celebrating for the entire year, but May 14 is the official day. Back in 1811, Paraguay decided it didn’t want to be a colony anymore and Spain didn’t fight them. Not a shot was fired. I celebrated by waking up early and marching in a parade with one of my elementary schools. It took three hours to walk three blocks. There was lots of red, white, and blue.
On May 19 (my one-month anniversary in site), my two bosses came to San Pedro and presented me to a roomful of teachers, kids, and parents. All of the adults had seats, but the children’s chorus had to stand in the back and try not to talk. I was in awe of how well they behaved, considering the boringness of the proceedings. Paraguayans have a special place in their hearts for pomp and cicumstance, and my site presentation was no different. One always begins with the himno nacional, then a series of too-long speeches (I tried to keep mine short), and ends with an artistic number (in my case, the children sang a patriotic song.) All in all, it went very well, and as an added bonus, I was able to hitch a ride back to Asuncion in a Peace Corps van instead of taking a bus.
Trip to Asuncion
A much needed break. My favorite part of this past weekend was going to the chuchi supermarkets that carry American products. Best finds: Jif peanut butter and ICB root beer.
Still to Come
My birthday :)