Friday, June 29, 2012


It`s about noon and I`m at the library. I´ve been working the lunch shifts so that we can be open continuously. The librarian works from 8 to 11, goes home for lunch and then works until 3, which is pretty standard. It is tranquilo here during the siesta but some kids do come in, or stick around from the morning until they run home at 12:30 not to miss their lunch.
Lunch is of course a hot, greasy, family meal. I love shocking Paraguayans by telling them that we eat sandwiches for lunch. Lately I´ve been enjoying making a big hearty sandwich at home and then eating it here with cheese puffs, sitting outside by the grass in the shade. The weather has been unseasonably gorgeous this week; it has been warm and breezy. I have no grass at my house, just mud and weeds, and I badly want to just lay down on this grass here in the sun, but that would also be scandalous.
I have just this week finally, after 16 months, assembled all the ingredients for a great sandwich. My new town has a bakery which makes surprisingly good whole wheat bread daily (though at slightly odd hours). I can get lettuce, tomatoes and red onions, sliced "sandwich" cheese and pickles (!) at the supermarket in the middle of town. I can get sliced baloney at the store next to my house.  Baloney is not my preferred sandwich meat, but the packaged sliced ham I bought at the supermarket was slimy and unsettling. I finally broke down and bought Paraguayan mustard last weekend so that Claudia, who was visiting, could make pollo a la mostaza. With some cheesy poofs and a coke it is a glorious thing. And I can lean my chair back against the brick wall and listen to the birds and the wind in the trees and breathe the good air.

The library has not too many books in it yet. We have a pretty okay kids section, thanks to Lizzy, and also a pretty okay Paraguay section, though it is lacking some important parts. Then we have the general collection, which is about 300 books on completely random topics, the majority of which are of almost no interest to anyone. We're working on looking for more book donations in the capital from organizations and from private citizens here in Natalio for more books. In addition I am working on a Peace Corps Partnership grant with the members of the library commission in order to buy a bunch of books and another bookcase with american dollars. More on that to come.

We also have 5 computers that work, and one that kind of works, from the gobernacion of Itapua, the department I live in. They have legitimate copies of Windows XP and run well. They have just a few programs installed, however, and we lack an internet connection in the library so far. They do have the 2007 Microsoft Office suite, but 98% of our patrons so far are just kids, and they have little use for Powerpoint or Excell. A program which I have installed on these computers is Google Sketchup, which is a free 3D modelling program. It is fairly easy to use, and some of the kids have done some impressive things with it already. I will post pictures of some of their creations when I get a chance. The other two programs they play around on are MS Paint, which is good for practicing mouse control, but is terrible for drawing, and Pinball, which I let them play as long as the sound is turned off.
looks like the Seattle Public Library

The kids that come in to the library spend about 70% of their time on the computers. I'm glad to get them in the door, and it is really great that any kid in town can learn the basics of using a computer now. In Paraguay plenty of families have computers, and plenty of people are obsessed with facebook, but this is something that is strictly divided upon class lines. If you're a kid and your family isn't able to afford one, chances are you've never used one. When I was planning my first computer class over at the elementary school I didn't even think to tell the kids how to use the mouse. Now I'm going to make a big color poster showing how to put your hand because Ramona's 3rd graders were so baffled by it. So I'm happy when they come in even just to play pinball, because you have to do some things with the keyboard and the mouse, and if you get a high score you have to type in your name with the keyboard, which is another byzantine apparatus for someone who hasn't used one. There is only so much time you can spend playing Pinball and Minesweeper or pretending to know how to play Spider Solitaire or Hearts anyhow.

y despues

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