Tuesday, September 20, 2011


Thinking about all the things in Spanish and Guaraní that confuse me reminded me of things in English that confused me as a kid.

Booty / Body
They sound pretty similar. Also shaking your booty requires shaking ones body.

Fudge / truffles / Fuji / fungus / sushi
This one is a little complicated. Truffles can be chocolate or mushrooms. Fudge is a kind of chocolate. Fuji is the name of a mountain in Japan, and sounds kindof like sushi which is a type of food they eat in Japan, and kindof like fungus, and kindof like fudge. I therefore connected them all and figued fuji was a type of mushroom/truffle they ate in Japan.

I didn`t get that ph makes an `f ´sound so I figured that the correct pronouniation was `pone´ and the way we said it was incorrect like "`aint" or "gonna".

So last week I was at PDM/IST along with all the other PCVs from G35 and one CC each at CAFASA in Ypacarai. In additional to the RHS PCVs, all of the G32 PCVs from the EEE and UYD projects came in as well for our EYD sector encuentro and to meet our new PM Jeremy Smith. Jeremy is replacing Alastair (who`s normal job is PS for EBC) who had been our acting APCD since Josefina was fired in April. Don Clark, the PCPYCD also came in on Monday and Friday. Lindsey, our PCVC did a lot of the work organizing the whole thing because Jeremy was so new.

So, as you can see, Peace Corps has another language of is own.

Saturday, September 17, 2011


I haven`t written in a while. I`m at the library again, but the internet isn`t working. It`s only been working in the mornings until cutting off some time before noon since last Monday at least. Since I can`t pursue my normal distractions, it is probably a good time to write something.
I`ve been ramping up my involvement here. While the facilities and recources here excellent for Paraguay, they are managed inefficiently if at all. It was very difficult even to get the 4 principal actors here together for a meeting: the president, vice president, and the two librarians. The vice president is very active and motivated, but has several other responsibilities, including his day job at the Suspervisión Pedadgogica, so he is limited in how much he can get done. The librarians are paid to be here all day (one or the other of them from 8am - 6pm, M-F, 8-12 Sat.) but tend to do only the minimum ammount of work. They`ve just completed an inventory of all the books we have here (13 months after opening) but madeningly, insanely, the inventory includes the author, the publishing company, and even the city it was published in, but nothing at all about the subject of the book. Not even fiction vs. nonfiction.
Last week I was excited that we were able to dig a large freestanding black chalkboard out of the supervisión office to bring over here. We now have announcements, rules, and the schedule publicly posted where people can see them! So that was cool. Now I want to work on an improved organizational system. This oughtn`t to be too hard. The current system is to try and remember, or guess, where a book was previously and to put it back there. About half the shelves are labeled and about half the labels actually apply to the books on that shelf. The easiest thing to do will be just to improve the labels, make more of them and make sure the related books actually go there. But many books are already unorganized. I would like to work towards having a dewey decimal system for all the books, each with its own number alongside all the other information in the inventory. We need to work on letting people know (like, a sign would help) that they should leave the books on the tables for the librarians to reshelve. First we need the librarians to care about where the books even go in the first place.
The librarians basically don`t have any oversight. There`s the president, but she never comes here, and seems uninterested in the whole thing. Unfortunately the library commisión decided to have its leaders elected for 5 years (!) just like Paraguayan national elections, so Teresa will be president for just under 4 more years. She is a good woman, and is also in charge of the comedor (like a soup kitchen I guess, but only for kids) where she takes a more active interest. However, even there our construction of a (to my mind) unnecesarily huge garden has stalled for no aparent reason.
Not having reliable internet access has been frustrating. It is something I have really come to depend on. It seems crazy that I can be all the way out really in the middle of nowhere and use computers and the internet daily and that I acutely feel the lack of them when I cannot, but this is the 21st century, folks. When I applied for Peace Corps, and later as I packed and prepared to leave, I imagined a romantic technology purge that would elevate my conciousness and health. The truth is I`ve been using computers daily for most of my life. By 3rd grade I had my favorite computer games that I played all the time. Here I even enjoy doing little technology favors for people, setting up a printer, changing the langugage settings from English, trying (in vain) to help to pirate windows, because it means I can get my hands on something so familiar as a computer.
Anyhow, my father has offered to buy me a laptop for my birthday and bring it down with him in October when he comes to visit for 9 days. I hesistated for about 24 hours before giving in to my fantasies of computational prowess. Once I did a little looking around online and realized just how powerful even laptops are today my salivation intensified. 6 gigs of RAM? 8? are you kidding me? And I`m still taking cold showers, washing my dishes by hand, cooking a lot, walking and riding my bike everywhere, making things out of cans and plastic bottles and cardboard, building fires in my wonderful woodstove, laying bricks, hopefully gardening soon, and living pretty damn simply anyhow.