Our Story: After meeting in graduate school at UGA, we were married in 2011 in Marietta, Georgia. A year later, we joined the Peace Corps as environmental conservation volunteers and embarked on our adventure in Paraguay!
Disclaimer: The contents of this blog are ours personally and do not reflect any position of the U.S. government or the Peace Corps.
October 10, 2012
First update from Paraguay
We are safe and sound down here in Paraguay! The country is beautiful! On our bus ride from Asuncion, we saw many types of tropical plants, beautiful flowers, and palm trees. There are many fruit trees that grow here including: limes, oranges, bananas, avacados, papaya, and even mangos. We are excited to have ripe mangos this summer, which will be in wintertime for all you North Americans. Each small town you pass through is known for its trades whether it be pottery, silver and gold jewelry, or musical instruments, each community maintains a flair of individuality. The main roads are paved and most locals dodge in and out of traffic on motorcycles. In Paraguay, larger vehicles always have the right-of-way even if they're driving in the wrong lane. Pedestrians beware!
During training, we are staying in a small town outside of Garambare known for its large and frequent ant hills. Many are as tall as our knees in height and can be nearly a hula hoop wide! We have heard there are several types of anteaters here, but have yet to see one. Our host family is very warm and welcoming. Our host madre is a teacher and our padre is a driver. They have four very friendly children ranging in age from 3 to 17. We live with several different animals: a puppy, a dog, two cats with three kittens, several chickens, and two ducks. It is not unusual to find a chicken in the kitchen every once in awhile. We are fortunate in that our house has both electricity and running water. Our family has given us a very nice bedroom, with a full-sized bed that has beautiful bedding that matches the curtains on our large stained glass window. The walls are painted orange and the tile floors are orange as well but darker. A large mosquito net hangs over our bed, but it is still spring so they do not bother us yet. The good lock on our door, and thick bars on our window help us to feel very safe here.
We spend a lot of time with our host family, practicing spanish, learning guarani, eating, and drinking terere. Our padre took us to the store last week where we bought our very own equipo de terere (a thermos, cup, and filtered metal straw). We are still learning how to use it properly. Our family is very modern in that our madre and padre both participate in cooking and completing household chores. We were worried that they might think it strange that Ben likes to cook, but actually, our padre taught Ben how to cook Paraguayan tortillas! They are fluffy fried biscuits and very different from the mexican tortillas we are familiar with. Although it is difficult communicating in any deep sense with our host family, we almost always find something to laugh about. Paraguayans have a great sense of humor especially when we mispronounce words in Guarani. One letter can mean the difference between "fish" and "diarrhea"!
We are gearing up for our trip to visit another Peace Corps volunteer in a town that is 4.5 hours away from us. We're nervous about taking public transportation, but we know it will be a great learning experience and give us confidence in travelling alone. Also, it will be great to get a little insight into the life of a volunteer who has been here for 1 year.
All in all, so far so good! Our host family takes great care of us, and we're learning a lot about Paraguayan languages and cultures. If you have any questions, please feel free to comment!
Ben and Sarah