Our Peace Corps invitation was waiting on our doorstep this afternoon! Before we opened the UPS package, we gazed at the map of the world hanging on our wall. We read the name of each country in Central and South America aloud, preparing ourselves to learn the name of the place we would be spending our next two years. Ben slowly opened the package and pulled out the bright blue folder that read "Peace Corps invites you to serve" in large letters. We unlatched the velcro that held the folder shut. After taking a deep breath, Ben removed the first page. Our eyes frantically scanned the invitation letter until they landed on the name of the country...
Paraguay. We will leave on September 26th to become environmental conservation volunteers in Paraguay. Paraguay? Really? Of all the exotic countries we thought we might travel to, Paraguay was certainly the one we knew the least about. We spent the next few hours scouring the internet to find as much information as we could about this small country in the heart of South America. As we have learned more and more, we have become even more excited about taking the road less traveled, into the little-known country of Paraguay.
"Paz y justicia"
Here are some quick facts that we found:
Bordering Countries: Argentina, Bolivia, and Brazil
Official Languages: Spanish (Formal) and Guarani (Informal)
Size: 157,048 sq mi (similar to California)
Population: 6,543,591 (similar to Indiana)
Population Density: 41.6 inhabitants/ sq mi (similar to Oregon)
Climate: subtropical to temperate (similar to inland Florida)
Bodies of Water: Rio Paraguay and Rio Parana
National Parks: Cerro Cora, Nacunday, Deforsores del Chaco, and Rio Negro
Places to Visit: Itaipu Dam, Iguazu Falls, Ciudad del Este
We are really getting excited about all the amazing wildlife that we will get to see! Here is a short list of some of the interesting and beautiful animals found in Paraguay:
Mammals: Three-toed Sloth, Tamandua, Azara's Night Monkey, Plains Viscacha, Chacoan Mara, Agouti, Lowland Paca, Margay, Jaguar, Bush Dog, Maned Wolf, Crab-Eating Raccoon, Coati, Lesser Grison, Brazilian Tapir, Paccary, and Guanaco (plus a variety of armadillos, mice, bats, and opossums)
Birds: Red-winged Tinamou, Whistling Heron, Jabiru, Black and White Hawk Eagle, Purple Gallinule, Red-legged Seriema, Wattled Jacana, Macaws, Parakeets, Parrots, Hummingbirds, and Toucans
Reptiles: Chaco Sideneck Turtle, Red-footed Tortoise, Caimen, Iguanas, Geckos, Boas, Anacondas, a variety of other constrictors, Coral Snakes, and Vipers
Amphibians: A variety of Tree-frogs, Thin-toed frogs, Horned toads, and toads
Fish: River Stingrays, Swamp Eels, Catfish, Cichlids, Trahiras, Dorado, Piranhas, and Knifefish