Wednesday, August 19, 2009

A place I call home…

Bienvenidos A Campo 9/ J.E. Estigarribia!!!

From what little I’ve seen of Campo 9, it looks like it will be an amazing site. Here are some quick descriptions of the city and my new living arrangements.

City Profile

• 20,000-30,000 people (medium-sized city)
• 3 good sized grocery stores, all within 1 block of each other on the same road
• 2-3 restaurants
• High-functioning Muni
o The muni already works with several NGOs to improve their operations, which means they are very open to change and improvement
• East side of Paraguay: aka there is water and lots of vegetation
• On the main ruta [highway] between Asuncion and Ciudad del Este = buses are constantly going through our bus terminal and I can easily get to Asuncion or neighboring cities.
• Has a Brazilian community, an ‘American heritage’ community [Don’t know what that means exactly just yet], and a Mennonite community
• Economy: agriculture, small factories that process soy, wheat, mandioca, milk, and fish products
• Thus far, everything I need thus far is within walking distance
• There is an education volunteer named Carly who also lives here. She will be here for the next 9 months, with her very cute doggie, Luna.
• Lots of schools, including several small colleges, to work with.

New Host-Family

• Dad-Anibal-works with DEAG, the agriculture department. Quiet but very nice. Very active in the community.
• Mom-Marcia-Retired Nurse, currently does private consults specializing in child and infant health. She also has a pharmacy. Very active in the community.
• Sister- Natalia-10 years old. Talks a lot, which is part for the course. I’m 3/3 on the 10-12 year old clingy sister front. She is still learning how to talk to me aka When I say ‘speak slower’ it means she actually needs to pause after individual words, especially in the morning when my Spanish/Guarani ears aren’t turned on yet.
• Kitten-Michi, which is the generic name for any cat that doesn’t have a real name, like Jane/John Doe. All white, bat-shit crazy…or maybe all kittens are like that, I don’t really know what is normal for cats.
• Bunny-I think they adopted it the day before I arrived because they didn’t have it when I visited 2 weeks ago. I’m a little concerned because they eat rabbits here; I hope it stays a pet. I’m also going to have to do some education with them about its nutrition and space/exercise needs. It currently lives in a teeny box, without room to move and gets only lettuce for food.
• Brother-David-22 years old, He is a jack-of-all-trades and only lives at the house occasionally from what I understand. He has a wife and a child in another city, so I assume that is where he usually lives.
• Marcia’s Niece- Kaateri maybe? 22ish- She is working full time, but I think she is going to start college sometime soon.


The family was under the impression for some reason that the Muni was going to pay for my rent. This does happen occasionally, and I think the Muni is still contemplating helping me out a bit, but ultimately it is my responsibility to take care of rent with my monthly PC allowance. Now that I’m out of training I’ll make about 1,500,000G [~ $US300]; which is close to the minimum Paraguayan wage. When I told Marcia I was going to be the one paying the rent, she told me I didn’t need to pay anything.

Years ago, when she was in her late teens/early 20’s Marcia met a PC volunteer in the town she grew up in. This volunteer did some sort of medical/health work and let Marcia accompany her during her rounds in the community. Because of this, Marcia developed an interest in nursing. The volunteer realized this and encouraged her to go to nursing school. Unfortunately the school was in another city and Marcia’s father didn’t want her to leave. The volunteer convinced her father to let her attend the school, and accompanied Marcia to the city to make sure it was a safe place for her to live. Marcia explained to me that she owes so much to the Peace Corps, and she doesn’t need my money, so I can live with them for as long as I want, rent free. I intend to pay her enough to cover utilities and the occasional meal or snack, though I’ll have to just guess how much that will be because she wouldn’t give me a number on how much that is worth. Talk about paying it forward.

The House:

The house is pretty large for a Paraguayan home: Medical Exam room, pharmacy, 1 complete bathroom, 2 bathrooms with just a toilet, a spare/supply room, living room, a very large kitchen, and 5ish bedrooms. Daniel’s room, my room, and one of the partial bathrooms are not connected to the main part of the house; they are in the back corner of the yard.

My room is smaller than the one in J.A. and water leaks in and forms a wet spot on the wall when it rains, but other than that it is great. Even better, it has a window that lets the light into the room in the morning so I won’t sleep until noon; I just have to put bars on it per PC regulations. The room also has an incandescent light bulb, which means I can actually read and study there.

I’m about 2 blocks from the main street and 5 from my muni. Talk about convenient.

No comments: