Sunday, July 3, 2011

Week Five: Back to Basics

Laundry day...
After months of trying to play it cool but secretly biting our fingernails to the quick, Kevin and I are happy to report that we have been living together all throughout training.  Although Peace Corps guarantees that married couples will live together during service, our recruiters were crystal clear from the get-go we may have trained in separate locations.  Luckily, this is not the case.

PC Py maintains a training facility about an hour outside the capital city.  Trainees (aka aspirantes) live with host families nearby.  In the interest of full disclosure, this is kind of weird- especially as a married woman in my 30s.  Machismo comes in many forms, and certainly shows up in the expectations for married women.  Without getting to far off track on a tangent that will most definitely make a series of appearances on this blog, in this case these “expectations” are more a matter of pride than oppression.  Either way, my home stay experience has differed greatly from than that of some other aspirantes- not in any sort of positive or negative way.  Just different.

In spite of whatever dread I may have felt about living in a stranger’s house before we moved in, Kevin and I have both grown to feel real love for our host family.  We live with a middle aged divorced woman and her 19 year old daughter, who commutes daily to Asunción to attend university classes.  Two older, married daughters round out our little Paraguayan family with three grandchildren and another on the way.  As our language skills grow we chat more and more.  We’ve laughed from day one.  A wicked sense of humor courses through this country.

Our town- formally founded over 500 years back by Franciscans (and probably inhabited far earlier than that)- is not quite a suburb of the capital in the same way that Elgin is not quite a suburb of Chicago.  It is small, but considered “modern” because of the traffic light.  The community is set up on a grid so it’s very easy to navigate.  There is a large catholic church, a labyrinth type market, and a quaint pond complete with crocodillos, or jakare to use their more common name in Guanani.  (The members of our group from Florida are not nearly as impressed by these creatures as we are.  They are about the size of medium dogs and technically part of the alligator family.  I think the english word is caiman.)

Since we arrived, Kevin and I have both redefined our concept of hot- at least concerning showers.  Mostly we are just grateful for running water.  We do our laundry by hand- a process that surely Cold Water Creek did not have in mind when they specified Hand Wash Only.  Without making too big a deal of it, this chore sucks.  (More on this later.)

Training itself is difficult, but satisfying.  We have language training five or six mornings a week and technical training the following afternoons.  Technical training addresses everything from PC development practices to medical seminars.  (Do you know how to say “I have diarrhea” in Guarani?  I do!)  We are exhausted all the time.  The progress we’ve made in language, though, makes up for this.

Tomorrow our training group will head into the capital for an actual free day.  My personal goals for a day off in the big city?  Find peanut butter and one more long sleeved shirt.  Peanut butter is super difficult to come by in Py and when I tried to explain to my house mother the magical moment that is peanut and chocolate, she wouldn’t hear it.  Now, these days I may be wrong a lot- especially in the lost in translation department- but as god is my witness, I will win this argument.  This time I will be right.

1 comment:

  1. PB is a staple! Let us know if we need to drop some in the mail. A big fat jar of PB def. came with me to the Netherlands. Maybe you need a solar shower water heater too? Keep writing. I like your stories.