Thursday, December 15, 2011

there's no good translation for 'porch'

It is a beautiful night. There is a wind in from the south which is warm and friendly and somehow invigorating. There are nice non-threatening high-up clouds moving across the evening sky which is changing from blue to grey to orange to green to dark blue again and I recline in my lovely hammock on my lovely front porch and drink $2.50/bottle wine. I have a candle burning, because why not? These lovely quiet nights and afternoons and mornings on my front porch are the most special, reliable, beautiful part of my life right now. Tranquilo is a favorite word of Paraguayans, and with good reason. My street, as I like to say, is paved with grass. Kids play soccer in it, men and women come and go, occasional motorcycles and horse carts pass by. There is only one other house beyond mine before the proper edge of town. After that there are mostly pastures for cattle and a few scattered homes. The big river lies south of here and runs perpendicular to this side of the town. To get to it I walk down my street, turn right, and follow the road for what would be about 6 blocks. There is a crossing there with usually about 5 canoes tied up, adults fishing and sometime children swimming.
The recently paved highway runs through my town and past where I lived my first 3 months with my host family. Large trucks pass noisily by carrying soy or corn on their way to the port on the Rio Paraguay at Antequera (about an hour away). I was very happy to move off the highway, and though I am just 5 blocks from it the difference is profound. Here you can see the ancient character of a road, as a multipurpose public space. Soccer field, pasture, pedestrian trail, and vehicle route. In the states we have specialization of all things, because it is efficient. I am glad to experience the many not yet specialized realities of a life here.
I am also very happy to be typing at night with my window open, which I can now do because today I installed a screen (a novel idea!) over it.
I have started teaching English class two nights a week. I held off for a long time because it is not part of our project. I am glad to be doing it now, and I partly wish I had begun earlier, but beginning now that normal school is out for the summer does make sense. It is great to have some normal kind of work to do, and not to worry too much about its long term sustainability, about involving local counterparts, about NGOs and grants and collaborations. I enjoy teaching this damn language that is the only one I will ever speak well. And it is fun to be with the jovenes (young people) doing something concrete. Just having a set concrete thing on my schedule helps my sanity a great deal. Something to plan around and for.
I will be doing a remedial summer reading class for illiterate 3rd and 4th graders, but that won't start until after the New Year. I've been trying to have drop-in drawing class and story hour at the library, but lately nobody shows up. With the English class they've had to pay to sign up (to go towards buying a new ink cartridge at the library) and they have to keep up, so they have some skin in the game. I hope it goes well anyhow.

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