Monday, August 30, 2010

Peace Ya'll

If there is to be peace in the world,
There must be peace in the nations.
If there is to be peace in the nations,
There must be peace in the cities.
If there is to be peace in the cities,
There must be peace between neighbors.
If there is to be peace between neighbors,
There must be peace in the home.
If there is to be peace in the home,
There must be peace in the heart.

– Lao Tzu (570-490 B.C.)

Friday, August 27, 2010

Feelin' The Burn

According to the bimonthly newsletter I received from the Peace Corps this morning, there are about 800 fires burning across the country. I’m going to assume that many of these are agricultural fires where farmers are burning off the dead grass from this winter. However they could be range/wild fires, who knows.

The results has been at least two miserable weeks of haze. It reminds me of years ago when there were huge range fires in Mexico and all of the smoke chocked the southern states. It is absolutely terrible. The lack of rain means all the roads are extra dusty. People are doing their best to keep it in check by watering the roads, but when the temperatures are in the 90’s, that method only works for so long. The mix of clay dust and smoke makes the air smell like a dirty wet dog. The sun looks like its setting around 1:30.

Thankfully we are supposed to get rain next week which will clear the smoke out of the air and hopefully put a stop to the fires.

Pics from the dirt road behind the international highway

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Operation Ankle Tan

The dirt is red, West Texas red. I wear sneakers all of the time, even in the summer, because I can’t walk on the stone streets in flip flops. This has produced a fabulously tan line which is a mixture of, well, a tan, and I swear the red dust embedding itself into my skin. The tan is most marked around my ankles, where my haven’t-seen-the-sun-in-over-a-year feet meet my clay colored calves.

Because of the Bree’s upcoming wedding, I’ve made a distinct effort to try to eliminate this tanline by wearing pants instead of shorts and wearing socks that go above my ankle at the same time for double protection. Unfortunately the rosy hue is proving to be quite stubborn and I haven’t made much progress. I have a little over a month left before I go back to the US (OMG one month!), but unfortunately the weather has become much warmer lately, making pants less comfortable. We'll see how it goes.

Thankfully Bree has promised I can still be in the wedding, even with my oompa loompa legs and vampire feet.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

New Sister G

Congratulations G33 on Swearing-in as official volunteers on Friday!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Thank you, Thank you, I’ll Be Here All Week...Actually Another Year

One year ago today I arrived in Campo 9 with two suitcases, a pack, a head full of plans, and a heart of full of hope

*Cheers *Aplauso

Thank you, Thank you all.

Yes, it has been a challenging year to say the least. Not a productive as I would have liked, but I feel some real momentum coming up and I’m really excited.

Today was also the first day I met my future mascota to be, Lila, which means she probably had her one year birthday last month. Woops, sorry. Happy Belated Birthday Lila!

Today was actually a productive day. I went and visited my community contact, who informed me of a wide-spread prostitution and AIDS problem in C9, which I wasn’t aware of. Now I know that might sadden those of you with less proactive hearts, but my first thought was: ‘Oh Oh, I can do some HIV/AIDS workshops! Awesome.’

Cinthia also signed my vacation request form, so I can turn it into the PC office. I’m on my way and sooooo excited.

I finally got off my bo-hiny and emailed a volunteer about how to make homemade yogurt. The kind here is really liquidy because they like to drink it, but it has made me violently ill on more than one occasion.

I discovered the beautiful wine colored fabric I purchased to cover the white foam board I’m using as a bulletin board matches Bree’s shirt perfectly in her Save The Date wedding card

I also have two little memories, that actually happen quite frequently and make me so happy.

1) I see the neighborhood kids feeding/petting Lila through the fence. This is a huge change from their reaction, which was to scream, run to the gate, and shake the chain link fence.

2) The boy then door hollering “Lilar!, Lilar!, Lilar!, Lilar!” at Lila to get her to come over. I’m pretty sure it doesn’t work and she just runs into the garage, but it is still cute to hear him out there.

Monday, August 16, 2010

And They’re Off

Our sector, renamed Community Economic Development (CED), now has two major events: A leadership camp and an amorphous entrepreneurship workshop/conference/case competition thing.

Angelic was selected for the leadership camp and I was selected for the as-yet-undefined business thing.

And by ‘selected’ I mean G30 basically did a subtle but collective ‘Not it!’ , which sifted Angelic and I into those positions. I was planning on trying to lead the business event anyway, but being selected by the group without having to actually step forward was certainly good for my ego.

Amusingly Angelic was originally assigned to the Rural Economic Development(RED) sector, and she is leading what was originally a Muni camp; I was originally assigned to the Municipal Services Development (Muni)sector, but now I’m leading a RED event.

Not surprisingly, since most of the remaining people are from the Muni sector, most of the people in G30 are interesting in the leadership camp. Fortunately the new group from our sector, G33, seems to be very interested in the Entrepreneurship camps, so most of my volunteer back-up will probably come from them.

The new G is attending a meeting on Friday to help them decide which event they want to help plan. They can attend both, but we decided for now that people will only be on the planning committee for one or the other. We'll see how things sift out then...I can't wait. I haven't been this excited since I went to Brazil for a vacation.

World Wide School Match!

WWS Description:
“The Correspondence Match program facilitates correspondence between an educator, his or her students, and a currently serving Peace Corps Volunteer. Participants exchange letters, stories, artifacts, photos, e-mail messages, and even phone calls.”

I’ve been assigned to a Spanish class in a small town in Maine. Looking forward to communicating with the teacher to see how she wants me to work with her class.

If you’d like for me to speak with your class as well, please let me know. I’ve got the time . I’ll also be back in the states during the first two weeks of October, so if you are in the Dallas or Austin area, I might be able to come by your class.

Visit this site for more information or to sign up:

Monday, August 9, 2010

Lila Might Need Swimming Lessons

My water comes from one of two municipal wells. The water goes into a large tank above the house. In order to fill the tank, my landlords have to got to the tank and flip a switch or turn a knob in order to let the water in. When the tank is full, they have to manually turn the water off again or the tank will over flow. This means sometimes the tank goes empty. If it is during the day, the family is usually quick to refill it, however if it happens at night or during a weekend, I may have to do without.

Recently the tank dried up around 10pm, so it was too late for me to call the landlady to ask her to fill the tank. I can’t do it myself because they let their German Shepard run around in the yard at night.

After a while I realized I didn’t know if my sink faucet was in the on or off position, since out of habit I would try to turn it on.I was also amazed at how easy it was for my brain to build memories for me of the far right or left being the off position.

Normally this would not have been a problem since I had already showered and there was a full 2 liter water bottle in the refrigerator. When the landlady filled the tank again in the morning I would hear the water running if it was open. Mystery solved.

However this particular night I needed to catch a 4am bus to Asuncion, which meant leaving the house around 3am, which meant I was not going to be in the house when the family turned the water back on, which meant I was not going to know if the water was on or not when I left the house.

Just swell

I made an educated guess based on the way the shower and another faucet in the house were and the fact that when I turned on the shower a small stream of residual water came out, which made the sink gurgle. This would not have happened had the sink been turned off.

I turned the sink in the position I hoped would be off, caught my 4am bus and hoped Lila didn’t need to learn to swim.

My backup plan was that if the sink was on, my landlady would notice the tank was emptying really quickly and assume there was a leak somewhere. I left my key to my front door under my front mat inside of the garage in case I needed to let her into the house. She already has a key to the garage.

My other back up plan was that since the next day was a Sunday, maybe the family would go out for the day, not be able to refill the tank, thus stopping the leak by default.

Thankfully when I got into the house the next evening the floor was still dry; I guessed correctly and Lila is still sans swimming lessons.