Tuesday, February 21, 2012


Didn't really do anything today. Went to the library this morning, used the internet. Forgot to send the emails I'd been meaning to send. Downloaded NYTimes stories and NPR podcasts. Facebooked. Sat in the hammock all afternoon sweating. In the evening I went looking for the president of the library comission who said she would be back from Santa Rosa by then, but could not find her. Bought some molasses cake. It rained a little bit.
There are some things I could do, but nothing is urgent. It wasn't even an unusually lazy day. It's just summer, still. Things should get moving soon though. School will start, the weather will moderate, or a least fluctuate a little. I have to decide if I'm going to buy a fridge with american money. It would make everyone's lives easier. I have been feeling increasingly connected with my nieghbors, which is good, but which makes my Americanness awkward. It is so unfair that I get to have nice things, and they don't. I make myself feel better by thinking about my student loan debt, which is vastly more than the value of my things here plus what is back home in boxes. Technically maybe I am poorer than these people in the sense that I have a negative net worth (by thousands of dollars). That doesn't really work though. I have a laptopand a college education; Claudia's family cooks over a fire on the ground, her 14 yo. sister will hopefully pass 5th grade this year .

What a world.

Friday, February 17, 2012


I've been listening to a lot of David Bowie, but not "Changes" because I think it is annoying. However, there have been some changes, some of which will require readjustments.

So, my house was broken-in to (into? in-to?) two weeks ago by, as A. Hennesey said so well, "some crooked f*ckers."  They actually didn't take too many important things. My mattresses, camera (was on the fritz), external hard drive (my internal is bigger anyhow), tools, about 65$ in Guaranies, leather belts, school supplies, silverware, AV and power cables, shampoo, antenna, very small radio, flashlights, and food. They left behind my TV and radio/dvd player, my passports (I have a separate PC one), my new guitar, all my clothes, my bike, and everything else. My laptop and my ipod I had with me in Asuncion.

It seemed fairly clear that they were looking for money. The whole place was turned upside down. We found my primary mattress (the other was for guests, but was not used much) in the bushes about a block away. It is a good comfortable mattress, that I bought with two years in mind, so I am thankful for that.

They came in two different ways into the two parts of my house. My back door had a very small window above it for some reason. They took out a brick below this so that they were able to reach thier arm in and undo the top bolt of the door. The bottom bolt was flimsy enough they just kicked it in. They then went on the roof above my attached storage room and removed some of the roofing tiles and used my own rope to climb down. Went out through the window.

So: anybody can come in through my roof whenever, as long as nobody sees them.
and: whoever broke in knew how my back door was locked.

although they may have just looked in and seen how it was set up. The tiles on the corner of that wall look out of place as well.

I would prefer to believe that last scenario because there are so few people that come into my house and that would have seen the locks themselves.

When I moved into this neighborhood my host family and the middle/upper class people I know warned me repeatedly that it was full of "bad people" and was dangerous. I love my house and my neighborhood, and it isn't even really that poor by Paraguayan campo standards. It is wonderfully quiet and I have become close with my neighbors. But now, after this, nearly everyone who is of the slightly elevated social class (which is a surprising number. It's mostly everyone that can secure a steady middle class job like teachers, store owners, government workers) has been relentless in bashing my neighborhood and the people that live there. Am I naive? Probably. Are they prejudiced? Definately.
I live pretty well, but it would be a strain on my Peace Corps stipend to try to emulate the lifestyles of most of my professional counterparts in site. I get paid about the same as a teacher, but they have the advantage of family networks and having lived here much longer. Anyhow, I did not travel so far to spend all my time with folks who have cars and sattelite TV.

So, we are working on the house. I've got a key lock on the back door now and wooden cross bars for the windows. The landlords are also paying to put in a wooden ceiliing. The other improvements are paid for by Peace Corps, but the ceiling is a major investment, coming in at 1.5 million Guaranies. They don't have to do this but I am grateful to them for doing so. I'll pay the next three months rent up front to help with that. Folks won't be able to come in through my roof then and it should help with heat insulation as well. I have heard that mice and rats like to live in these kinds of ceilings, however.
Also I've got someone I trust to take care of the house while I'm away and I'm probably going to get Natasha's dog when she goes home in April.
Other changes:
Dona Dolores is selling her refrigerator today, so I'll have to find somewhere else to get ice from everyday/buy my own fridge. That's another 1.5 million...
A volunteer friend of mine broke up with her asshole boyfriend!
A different volunteer friend might have to get a site change... for confidential reasons.
A new school year starts next week!
There is a waffle bar in the PC office all month!