Parents visit Paraguay

DSC01183

This past February we were graced with my entire family visiting us.  Though to be fair my “entire” family consists of 3 people (five including Jon and I), while Jon’s family is many, many more… I would get lost if I were to count. 20 to be exact.

DSC01194 DSC01226 DSC01260

P2081149_2 P2081160_2

It had been almost two years since I last saw my mom and sister, and a little less since I last saw my dad, either way it had been way too long.  I was pretty darn glad to see those familiar faces arrive at the airport and to be smothered in kisses by my mama.

In the end, they spent almost two weeks in Paraguay.  We adventured out in an old rental van to do our explorations, the van may or may not have died on us 3 times during the trip, adding a bit more to the sense of adventure.  We visited a waterfall, went to Encarnación to watch carnaval and go to the river beach, felt the hustle and bustle of Asunción, and enjoyed the tranquilo life of our town, while they got to meet some of our favorite people.
Continue reading»

Photos, Computers and Friends

It’s hard to believe that Jon and I are coming to the end of our service.  This July we will be making our way back home.  They say that the Peace Corps is the “toughest job you’ll ever love,” and I couldn’t agree more.  While I wouldn’t trade this experience in Villarrica for anything, it definitely hasn’t been a walk in the park for either of us.  It has now been almost two years since we last touched American soil.  We miss family, we miss the comforts, we miss friends. So thank you, thank you to all of those that have made that void a little smaller for us, sending us encouraging messages and updating us on life, Skyping with us, mailing us packages full of goodies and letters, we truly appreciate it.  And thank you to those who have visited us or met us elsewhere in Latin America. Seeing familiar loved faces is always a welcome respite.

Today I wanted to share some highlights of what life has been like lately. And by that I mean these past 8 months.

A while back I shared pictures of our town taken by our students. Below is an image of the final exhibition of the photography course. Everyone was pretty excited to find their photos.

_MG_9140 _MG_9141

When we first visited our town one of the first places we went to was the Telecentro, a free public computer lab run by a local NGO and the municipality. The lab had 10 computers that were 14 years old.  They were so old that they couldn’t run Windows, which in turn meant no MS Office.  With the staff in the lab I wanted to teach computer classes, but felt it would be irrelevant doing it with Linux.  I crunched numbers to see how much we needed to replace the computers and it was just too much to ask family and friends back home for.
Continue reading»

Brown Butter, Chocolate Chip and Oatmeal Cookies

_MG_5541-2

I have a question for you.  Well, before I pose my question I would like for you to excuse my ignorance, and Jon’s ignorance for that matter, for he is perplexed as well.

The question:  Why do we refrigerate our eggs in the United States?

I have most certainly not been to every country in the world, but enough to where I have seen a trend, a.k.a. no one refrigerates their eggs… except for us, the Americans.   We love them so very much refrigerated that we buy them already refrigerated in the supermarket and it wouldn’t surprise me to know that they come to the supermarket in refrigerated semi-trucks.
Continue reading»

10 Days in Mendoza, Argentina & Santiago, Chile

We left off last time with a promise of food for this post and yet here I am instead with a recap of our trip this past Christmas and New Years. Please forgive me.  I hope you enjoy this eye candy instead.

After 6+ months in Paraguay Jon and I were ready to start exploring the land beyond our new home.  During Thanksgiving, with Isaiah and Allison, the idea of a Christmas trip was mentioned. Quickly thereafter out came a map of Argentina and adjacent countries and with that the planning had officially begun.

On the day of Christmas Eve we flew off to Mendoza, Argentina, the largest wine producing area of South America, most famous for its Malbec.  Maybe I am too easily impressed in life, but I quickly fell in love with Argentina.  There is a great variety of cuisine available (including seafood paella!), fun/cute shops, and pedestrian walk signs.  Ah, yes, you folks living the fancy life in the first world should say a small prayer of gratitude thanking whatever higher being you believe in for that flashing walk sign that tells you when to cross the street, because it’s worth gold. Ahem, back to Mendoza.
Continue reading»

A Trabajar en Villarrica

When folks from back home email/chat/talk with us, a question we always get is “What all do you guys do down there in Paraguay?” So, here you have it, a post solely dedicated to what we do in Paraguay with pictures galore.  And yes, we do things other than constantly sweat and kill bugs. (Please excuse the quality of some of the pictures– they were mostly taken with a point and shoot).

1. I teach/taught typing. 

For the past two months I taught typing at a local middle + high school.  This school was the very lucky recipient of a fully equipped computer lab courtesy of the Korean aid organization (KOICA), but unfortunately since the Korean volunteer has left the lab was only used for two class hours per week.  My original plan was to teach Microsoft Word, Excel, Powerpoint, etc. but I quickly discovered that many students could barely manage using a mouse and a keyboard.  So, we started at square one, typing.  The students have a way to go, but I plan to continue once summer vacation ends and school starts back up.  (Yep, we are in the midst of summer here on the other side of the hemisphere).  During the same time Jon taught PHP at the technical high school, the same stuff that runs those websites that go by the name of “Facebook,” “Wikipedia” and even this little blog.  

2. We walk a lot and drink terere. 

A significant chunk of our day consists of simply walking. We live a good distance away from the center of town, and once in town have to walk from offices to schools to markets to home, etc.  Thanks to a sweet little birthday gift (a.k.a: a Fitbit) I received from a friend all the way from the U.S. of A. (love you Eab!) I now know that on average we walk 7 miles per day.  To cool off from all that walking we drink lots of terere with fellow Paraguayans.  Terere is the national drink of Paraguay/a way of life. It consists of a guampa (metal or wood cup), a bombilla (metal straw with a filter at the bottom), a thermos (filled with really cold water to refill the guampa), mate (a loose herb), and friends.  You get together with friends and alternate drinking from the same guampa via the same straw.
Continue reading»