And with that, we are now all officially volunteers. Who would have ever suspected that it takes so much hard work and dedication just to become a volunteer?
The past 10 weeks were exhausting, exciting, and most importantly, infinite amounts of fun. Our host community could not have welcomed us more than they did. Gracias Villeta, we are so grateful. I already miss the haunted house, the river Paraguay with its view of Argentina, sharing pizza with the endless slew of visitors at our home, and our two host sisters, Anahi and Paz, who always provided us with laughter and good times.
I am also so proud of our host mom, who spoke eloquently on behalf of all the host parents at our swearing-in ceremony.
These folks are just a few of the Villetanos that welcomed us into their homes.
And here we are, newly sworn-in volunteers, with my host sister Paz.
Regarding traning in general, I must state that the training staff was superb, always willing to answer whatever silly question you may have about the Paraguayan culture. And of course they taught us all things technical about becoming a volunteer and Guarani.
I shall take this moment to formally introduce you to Guarani. Paraguay is the only country in South America to have two official national languages, Castellano (Spanish) and Guarani. The mixture of the two languages is called Jopara. Both languages are used equally in daily life in Paraguay. There are some staples phrases that exemplify the mixture of the languages, for example “Porque piko?” You will rarely, if ever, hear someone just say “Porque?” without adding “piko.” “Piko” is a suffix that is added to words to make them questions/exclamations. That, my friends, is a mini-lesson for you all about Guarani.
Jon and my Spanish were both high enough to have the pleasure to delve into Guarani for a full ten weeks. Unfortunately, when listening to a conversation in Guarani I am still only able to pick up isolated words. Sa’i sa’ipe che aprendeta (Little by little I shall learn).
Delfina, below, was my favorite language instructor (because we all do have favorites in life). She let me stay in her office for hours on end, asking her a never-ending stream of questions about Guarani and life in general. She taught me how to make pastry cream, too.
Jon’s and my new home is the city of Villarrica. This is where we will be serving for the the next two years, slightly daunting if I may say so myself. Over the course of time, I will be introducing you to Villarrica (with hopefully some recipes as well), as we discover more and more of it ourselves. Today, though, is all about el Dia de Asunción (in addition to swearing-in), which was a national holiday this past Wednesday. The patron of the church where our new host family lives is la Virgen de Asuncion, so it was a day to celebrate with a procession that ended at the church with Mass.
The prossesion was to pass right on our street, which meant that everyone got their home spruced up, out came the decorations, and out came my balloon blowing powers.
Our new host sister is a master of the balloon flower.
Her son, Josue, is the cutest little boy ever and loves the camera. Who can ever resist taking pictures of him? He also very diligently helped us with decorations.
Peque, our new other host sister, was too busy looking across the street.
This was her view, this young man, with a few other fellows, were sprucing up their lawn for the procession. And, yes, he is cutting the grass with a machete, it’s energy saving and gives you big arm muscles. You should try it.
Ta-Da! Our home ready for the procession.
Even the lapacho tree on our street got all dolled up for the procession. She was in full bloom.
Josue celebrated the day with the cutest hug ever shared with his cousin.
The boys across the street were getting slightly jealous of my snapping pictures of everyone else, so I took a picture of them standing proudly by their spruced up lawn and flaunting that machete.
Seeing as we were all done and the waiting had begun I took out my newly purchased terere thermos and we all shared some terere together. One day I shall go into detail regarding terere. But for now, I can tell you it’s delicious, refreshing and almost any Paraguayan’s drink of choice.
Josue likes it too.
These two scouts were the indicators that the prosession was soon to begin. They walk one block ahead of the procession and light up noisy rockets into the air at each corner.
And there she finally was, la Virgen de Asunción. Jon and I happily joined them and attended Mass. It was a fun, relaxing day, and a wonderful introduction to our new home.