Our Story

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.

November 19, 2012

Excursions During Training

Well, we're a little behind on our posts because life moves a million miles an hour right now. But we wouldn't have it any other way! Here are a few things that have happened throughout training that we don't want anyone to miss out on. The date of this post doesn't really matter, because all of these things have happened throughout training, they're just not really big enough to have their own blog post. So here they're all lumped into one. Enjoy!

Tapeapovo - Guarani word that means something close to "hitting the streets." This was basically our first trip as aspirantes (trainees) to get out on our own and experience some of Paraguay. We were split into groups and assigned a few places in the city that we had to visit. Ben was in a group with two other volunteers, and had to visit the cemetery in Recoleta, the Health Park (Parque de Salud), and A Todo Pulmon, Paraguay Respira, which is an organization that plants trees in Paraguay to act as "lungs" so Paraguay can "breathe" again. Get it! Fun facts about Ben's trip:
1. When my group was on the bus looking for the Recoleta Cemetery, we got off at the first cemetery we saw, which happened to be in the wrong city (San Lorenzo, not Asuncion). So we had to hop back on a bus and pay again.
2. When we were getting off the bus at the Parque de Salud, I got off last. There were two guys standing near the exit of the bus, and as I approached, one of the guys made his way for the front and brushed up against me. He was uncomfortably close and there was really no need for the guy to get so close to me. So, if you haven't guessed by now, as soon as I got off I checked my pocket and my wallet was gone. Luckily, I kept my money in a wallet that hangs around my neck, so they only got 2,000 Guaranies (which is about 50 cents).
Sarah was in a group with Megan and Paige and their mission was to visit Asuncion Centro and find Senatur (the national tourism organization), Casa de Independencia, the Catedral, and Plaza de los Heroes. Along the way they browsed through the wares of the street side artesania stands. Sarah bought a little leather box for Ben (to cheer him up since he got mugged).They were also supposed to visit the ABC News building, but there was a huge teacher protest in the street, and they could not pass. Her group went to the infamous Lito Bar on Calle Palma for some lunch. Afterwards, all the groups met at the Peace Corps office to have a mixer with some of the current environment and agriculture volunteers.

Planting trees at the health post - This was such a great opportunity! Our tech trainers worked it out so we could go plant trees at a health post (health clinic) in Nueva Italia, a town about 30 minutes away from Guarambare. This was a great chance to roll up our sleeves and get dirty!We planted a bunch of trees along the sidewalks in the front of the building. We had just had a tech training on how to plant trees, so it was good timing. We planted the tree and put some bamboo poles over it to protect it. Behind the health post, we had to plan out the places for a bunch of citrus trees we were planting. We had a bunch of citrus trees in macetas: grapefruit (pomelo), naranja (orange), y mandarines (mandarinas). Four of us got together and tried to figure out how we could place the trees without having the same tree next to itself. We were all laughing as we tried to figure out the best arrangement because it felt like we were trying to solve an SAT problem. All in all, we were really happy to plant trees cause it felt like were finally doing something in Paraguay and not just training all the time!

Botanical gardens / icecream - We took a field trip out to Jardin Botanico (botanical gardens) in Asuncion. We got to see the grounds for free and we even got a tour around the facility. The botanical gardens weren't mind blowing, but they did have a lot of very interesting trees. The main thing that we all really liked was this giant tree that seemed to first grow upward, and then spring other roots from its branches and grow back to the ground. We all climbed it and had a great time, thinking the whole time it was this weird alien tree that grew back into the ground. Right before we left, our tech trainers told us that the tree only appeared to grow downward, but it was actually just a weird agricultural technique. You cut off a little branch, then wrap bags of soil around the cut. The tree then thinks it's been buried and starts to sprout roots. After a while, they just start growing downward and downward. I'm not exactly sure why anyone would want to do this, but it's a pretty cool idea. After climbing the tree and seeing the whole garden, we did an activity about planting trees in our community. Then we left the gardens and went to a little museum that happened to be closed. Since we still had some time before we had to get back, the trainers stopped by an ice cream place and we hung out there for an hour. This wasn't an ordinary ice cream place by the way. It was the chuchi-est ice cream place I'd ever been to. Once I find out the name of it, I'm gonna post it on here so you can see.

School Presentation - One of our assignments in tech training was to prepare an activity for youth at a nearby school in Tacuruty. We knew they were basica, but we didn't know which grade we would be given. Sarah and I had been planning to make a bench out of Eco-ladrillos (eco-bricks made of recycled plastic bottles with garbage stuffed inside), so we already had some posters. Our other teammate, Andrew, helped us make another poster asking where do we find garbage, and what do we do with it? During our presentation, we talked about problems with litter and the problems with burning garbage. Then we talked about Eco-ladrillos, and I told them that this is just one idea for recycling, and you can always be using your imagination to come up with new ways of recycling. This again, was another great experience for us, and we really enjoyed getting to talk to kids and flex our language skills.

So, that's it for now. There might be one or two more things we want to add to this post in the future.. so stay tuned. Bye for now!


  1. I think we call that air grafting or air rooting in the US. You can get a new tree same as the old tree. Once the roots grow in the back, you can cut above the bag and have a new tree. Just make sure you get some leaves with the new plant.

    1. Thanks for getting to the root of that! We learned how to graft citrus trees during our visit to Monte Alto. Pretty cool stuff!


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