Mba’eichapa (hello in Guarani).
Today marks a week since Jon and I left the United States. It already feels like a decade ago.
We now reside in the picturesque country of Paraguay. Paraguay is the land of red dirt roads, cows, orange trees, and terere. Sometimes you must be weary of the cows, particularly at night. They are everywhere. Including your neighbor’s front lawn in town. And unlike the U.S. of A here they have horns. Also, don’t confuse them with dogs.
I would like to introduce you to our host family and home for the next three months. Our mom is Gladis, our father is Oscar, and we have two teenage sisters, Paz and Anahi. They are simply great. And hilarious. Really hilarious. Do you know when you laugh so much that your cheeks hurt? That’s what it’s like being around them. Life is funny and it feels darn good to laugh.
Other volunteers describe our home as the “chuchi” one. “Chuchi” is the Paraguayan word for fancy/upscale/uppity. We have a flat screen TV with satellite, wi-fi internet, a washing machine, and a bathroom that looks like it belongs in a hotel with a great big hot water tank. And my sisters, like any other teenager in the US, are addicted to Facebook and their phones. Um, yes, we are in the Peace Corps.
Of course, not everything is what it seems to be on the outside. Some Paraguayans struggle with principles of personal finance and living beyond their means. They take loans, lots of loans, for even small appliances like a blender. Giving classes on personal finance is one of many possibilities for what Jon and I might be working on during our time here.
And since we can’t go without mentioning foods, the food has been delicious thus far. I snapped photos of my host dad preparing a light dinner of pizza. Paraguayans love pizza, and they are pretty darn good at making it. Peppers, onions, olives; all wonderful things to go inside of oneself. And cheese, we all love cheese.
For some parting words, Paraguay’s people are genuine and hospitable, and unspoiled by tourism. It’s a hidden gem that lies in the heart of South America and I am certainly looking forward to sharing more with you.
Also, I need to get a chef’s hat to be a true cook in the kitchen.