Even though the PC is a US organization, we didn’t get the 4th of July off. On the 3rd of July however, my trainer Ricardo, had pity on us. We were supposed to do a field trip to a place that related to the municipality; however we went to the botanical gardens and the zoo in Asuncion. It’s a little bit of a stretch, but they do hold environmental education classes there, have a library, the employees do technically work for the Muni, and a lot of Muni volunteers take on environmental education projects as secondary projects [or primary projects if the Muni doesn’t cooperate]. The gardens and zoo aren’t big, but they are certainly a nice change from the surrounding city. IN the zoo I felt horrible for the chimps. Their cage was so small and there were only two of them. It upsets me to see a creature that is so similar to humans treated like this; it must be such a frustrating existence.
After we finished at the zoo we went 4th of July party at the US embassy. It’s huge! It’s a walled compound about 1-2 blocks wide and 3ish blocks long. There is a huge lawn with beautiful trees everywhere, a pool, a playground, tennis courts, a small soccer field, a volleyball court, a bounce house, and a few small buildings. Just beautiful. Can this be my site? When do I move in?
There was also a guy dressed up as Uncle Sam and some red, white, and blue decorations around the facility. Red, white, and blue are also Paraguay’s national colors, so I have a feeling the decorations are multipurpose.
For lunch they had hamburgers, vegeburgers, hot dogs, baked beans, an attempt at potato salad [small red potatoes halved with mayo], potato chips, chocolate chip cookies [though they weren’t quite the same as in the US], brownies, an attempt at cheesecake, fudge, and some apple pie with vanilla ice cream [which is never as good as Grammy’s pie].
But in comparison with the food that I have been eating lately, it was sooooo nice to eat something that I recognized. And no, the lunch was not on the taxpayers dime. We had to pay 20,000 each [about $4] I was lucky because I hovered around the buffet line so I was one of the first people in line. Even so, it took a while to get through line. Quickly the line got long and took forever to move.
After lunch we played soccer, volleyball, talked with current volunteers about their experiences, bought t-shirts [25,000G]and totes [20,000G] designed by the volunteers, I bought a PC cookbook for 25,000G[Medical Mary made the first one 10 years ago when she was a volunteer, this is the first time they have revised it]. I could have bought the disc copy as well for another 10,000G, but didn’t feel like spending the money right now. When you make 15,000G per day [$3] spending about 2,300G for the garden and zoo, 20,000G for lunch and another 35,000G for a cookbook with a disk copy just seems extravagant. I also saw the US ambassador while she made her rounds.
We left as a group around 3pm and came back to the training community. Initially we were told that we could stay in Asunción for a few more hours if we wanted, but we would have to find our own transportation back home, but CHP withdrew this option a few days before the party and said we all had to return as a group. There was a party hosted by PC volunteers after the embassy lunch for 80,000G [$16US] and I think they were afraid that we would try and go if given the free time. I personally would have liked to opportunity to go to a market and pick up a few personal items, but I think they were afraid we would party too hard to make it to class the next day. It gets a little annoying sometimes that they restrict us so much with the scheduling and where we can travel during training, and yet they expect us to become self-sufficient. If they want us to be able to learn to take care of ourselves here, perhaps they should give us more opportunities to do so.
Actual 4th of July
We had a history session all morning and had the afternoon, which is pretty much our standard Saturday schedule.
July 5th, 2009
My host mom cooked sopa Paraguay and chipa guasu, traditional Paraguayan dishes, that she doesn’t usually cook to do something special for the 4th of July since we didn’t really get a holiday. My host dad did a little too much drinking again, and then his favorite soccer team won the championship. So he got dressed up in all of his team gear, got a shovel and a hammer, and went around the neighborhood banging the shovel with the hammer in celebration.
One year down the road - A while ago I promised some accounting, and then never followed through. Sorry for the delay. For the four or five of you who read this, here you go. I rec...
4 years ago