Sunday, September 30, 2012


Just one day left to get in a post for September. I'm not sure what happened there, though I have had less internet this month. Still....

It has been a good month. I've been travelling a lot, which makes me happy. When I'm happy I've got more ganas to do good work and more likely to connect with people in site.
The first weekend of the month we had a VolunteerActionCouncil (I'm not even sure if that's what is stands for, we just say VAC) meeting in Encarnación, the capital of Itapua which is my department. The meeting was at a really pretty decent pizzeria. Encarn is a nice little city and has what you might call nightlife, so we later went down to the waterfront to drink and run in the sand and be silly. I was with some of the more recent arrivals who aren´t cynical or jaded like too many of us are. I am feeling more at home in Itapua now and having been in my new site longer than both the G-38 and G-39 makes me feel less like the grumpy transplant ("In San Pedro we do things like this, in San Pedro we do things like that...").
Encarn just last year completed its amazing Costanera, which is the waterfront surrounding the city. This waterfront was created by the flooding of the Paraná by the recently built Yacyreta dam. When you´re down there you almost think you´re somewhere nice. You want it because it reminds you of a real beach but it afterwards is leaves you missing the ocean more than ever.
And we went dancing and the music was surprisingly not horrible and they didn't charge a cover to get in and they opened up the back area so there was actually room to dance. It was, in fact, a fun night out. !!

Then two weeks later I came in for Ellie's awesome street art project (let me know if that link doesn't work). She had kids from her high schools submit design proposals. The designs were posted on facebook, and the five most popular were painted in different spots around town. Lots of local youth and about 15 PCVolunteers from all around the country painted some really lovely works of art. It was great for youth development, one of our sector goals, and city beautification/tourism which is one of Encarn's goals, and just fun. I've always wanted to paint murals. This was the first time I've ever been able to.

BUT I wasn't able to stick around long. I had to head back to site for our Matinee de Cine, put on as a fundraiser for the library commission. The municipality lends us the equipment and the space, I do the technical stuff, and the commission members sell soda and homemade popcorn. It's a lot of fun, though not without its challenges. This time we showed the Pixar gem "Ratatoille".
I got a text message the morning of the show, while I was on a ladder painting in Encarn, that none of the commission members would be able to show up to help. This was very disappointing. That's the sort of glib unreliability that drives us mad as volunteers and makes us feel like we're just wasting out time. But I set everything up anyhow, and once people came I apologized to everyone that there wouldn't be popcorn or soda as advertised  Then some of the moms stood up and told me that they could make popcorn. The treasurer of the library commission also showed up, she hadn't heard that the commission was all bailing. So an hour in to the film we had an intermission, sold candy and soda, raised some 60 mil to buy books (sold the popcorn too cheap) and I learned who I could depend upon the next time around.

Then the next weekend was Ana's birthday. She's a volunteer that lives about 2 hours from my site, and is just about my closest neighbor. She lives in the town of Jesús de Tavarangue, famous for its glorious Jesuit ruins. Lots of volunteers came in and we partied for two days at her house, then had a lovely pork, beef and turkey BBQ up at the ruins with her community contact and the people that work at the front gate, then wandered around the huge ruined church in the holy moonlight, and then Monday spent all day at the high school giving info sessions about HIV/AIDS. It was a really fantastic group of volunteers to spend the weekend with and I'm very happy that we were able to have lots of fun and then be guapo (productive/hard-working) afterwards.
This is a picture of the Jesús ruins from when dad came to visit last year

This weekend I'm in Asuncion otra vez for my PTIP (the I is for interview I think) with Jeremy, our Program Manager (one of the P's is probably for program, huh). This means the busfare is paid for and I got one free night in a cheap hotel or a hostel. Coming in at the same time as a lot of other volunteers is always exciting, fun, awkward, confusing, expensive, and exhausting. Also I've got some GI issues going on. Tomorrow I'm heading in the Guarambare for Sunday Lunch with my host family from training which will be a love-fest. It has been far too long since I've visited. They are the sweetest people and love me far more than I deserve.

host fam

I'm going to try and get back on the blog-train. There are a lot of long posts that I only have half written that I want to do properly.

Here's another shot of the ruins framing the mythic rolling fields of Itapua