As of November 24thish, I have been out of the country for 6 months. This surpasses my previous out of country expirence of 5 months while I was in Santiago, Chile studying abroad. So far, it has been a breeze. No offense to those of you state side of course.
I spent pretty much all of my first three months in site, which is what PC recommends, but is something I do not intend to repeat. By the end of the 3rd month I was itching for some time away. I’ve decided to try to get out of site and go spend some time with other volunteers, either at their sites or in Asuncion at least once a month…starting next month. This month I have to stay in site because I’ll be babysitting Luna and Carly’s house for three weeks while she is on vacation. Consequently January is when I will begin making leaving site for a weekend a part of my routine. Unfortunately this means that I’ll be in site during Christmas and New Year’s, which is no fun. A friend from my group is going to visit me for a few days before Christmas and we are going to do Hanukkah stuff. I don’t like Christmas, she is Jewish, perfect fit. We’re going to make potatoes pancakes and Jalla. Holla Tee hee, I couldn’t resist.
I will say that Christmas is a lot more low key here. I’ve seen a few lights in the city, but nothing else. In Asuncion there were a few advertisements with a Christmas feel, including some with penguins in snow hats and scarves. Its summer here btw.
I could do Christmas with my host family, but Marcia is subtly moving me from the house guest to renter. Her son, who occupies the room next to mine, is moving out, I’m assuming to the city where his wife and child live. She told me that I could rent the casita, referring to his room, my current room, and the outdoor bathroom, for 250,000/month. I’m not sure if this includes utilities or not. If it doesn’t include utilities it is a complete ripoff. The wooden house Carly almost rented cost that much, not including utilities, and had 2 rooms, a large living area, a large yard, a partially enclosed half-room. We’ll see. Right now I pay her 150,000 a month ‘for gas.’
I think the progression is very interesting
We started at ‘You can stay here for as long as you want rent free’
To her asking for 125,000 to ‘help with gas’ (she made it sound like a onetime thing)
To me giving her 150,000/month voluntarily, which I had to practically force her to take the first time.
To her basically telling me that I need to rent the other room and my current room for 250,000/month
What was most interesting was the way she framed the proposition. She said it was an opportunity for me to be more ‘independent’. The funny thing is the only real way that I could be more independent is if I moved out. I do all of my own cooking, cleaning, laundry, etc. I’m in a room that they probably couldn’t rent out by itself without at least providing meals to the renter.
The only thing I use of theirs is the shower inside the main house, it has electricity, and the kitchen. I have a shelf I’ve taken over in the refrigerator, but I don’t feel bad about using it because they don’t keep leftovers. I also use the gas stove, though I’ve been cooking much less lately. Occasionally I may eat some of their bread, mandioca, or rice which I’ve perceived to be a negligible amount. She did tell me to act like the house was my own. She has repeated this mantra on several occasions including when I asked her if it was all right if a female volunteers spent the night.
However in her rental proposition she mentioned me setting up my own kitchen. Perhaps that is her indirect way of telling me that those ‘negligible’ amounts of food I’ve eaten or the shelf I’ve commandeered are not such trivial matters.
I’m bothered by her suggestion that I become more independent, because it sounds like she wants me to leave. But I don’t think that was her intention. She is a smart woman, a business woman. She knows that Nortes value independence and she knows I like to cook, so she used those items as her buzz words in her sales pitch… Also my three required months of living with a family are complete and evidently so is my semi-free ride. Her generosity has run its course, she has gotten me through the rule book. Now she wants rent money.
Perhaps I’ve not wowed her with my three months of community observation, as recommended by the PC, while I’ve stayed with them. The course of her life was changed by a PC volunteer and maybe she is disappointed I haven’t brought that same personal revolution with me for her daughter.
My plan is to accept her proposal beginning in January, assuming the David is out of the room by then. This also assumes utilities are included and I still get to use their refrigerator. Carly is leaving me hers when she leaves, so it would be absurd for me to get one of my own to use only for three months. If something about my refrigerator habits is annoying her…well it’s only for three more months.
Being moved into the renter position makes me feel less like family, so I don’t know if I want to spend Christmas or New Years with them. It also makes me even more eager to get out of the house before Carly leaves in April. If all goes according to my new plan, I’ll move in with Carly after her boyfriend Stephen leaves with Luna for the US in mid March.
Anyway, that’s me after 6 months. I’ve been trying to keep up with the news as best I can. I get CNN updates headline updates sent to one of my email accounts. Though since I read the most recent emails first my reactions to
CNN: ‘Fort Hood shooter apprehended’
Me: Wait! There was a shooting a Fort Hood?!
So I’m curious, what do you all think are the most important events I may have missed out on, things that in about 2 years will still be good to know?
And no, not that Kanye West stole Taylor Swift’s spotlight and Beyonce came to the rescue and then Obama broke the cardinal rule of being famous in the technology age thinking anything he says if off of the record or the overly aggressive female soccer player who is lucky she didn’t get charged with assault. Though I am curious about what songs are being most overplayed on the radio there.
Thank you for your assistance in reducing my culture shock upon reentry :)
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