Wednesday, October 24, 2012

breaking fast

"The morning, which is the most memorable season of the day, is the awakening hour. Then there is least somnolence in us, and, for an house at least, some part of us awakens which slumbers all the rest of the day and night."  - Henry David Thoreau

Breakfast is the most intimate meal because, as Thoreau reminds us, in the morning our souls are still glowing a little bit from the hours spent dreaming. We have yet to put on all the stuff that separates us from each other.

So I like breakfast. I like to eat it with other people. Being able to walk to a cafe is really my definition of urban living. My favorite part of a night of drinking with friends is breakfast the next morning with the survivors. My favorite part of living with Americans were big breakfasts with pancakes and bacon and coffee. The best part of living with a host family, I think, is that hot cocido in the morning. The coquitos/galletas are not so great. But the intimacy, and the cocido, while you watch the silly morning news broadcast is really special and really Paraguayan.

So I'm very happy that this morning I found a nice place I can go to (it's on my block of course) in the mornings to drink good hot cocido and watch the news and talk to Sandra (or possibly her sister Sofia). They run a hotel and restaurant and sell tickets for one of the two local bus companies, and have helped me in the past with movie-night fundraisers for the library. Who knows, I may even be able to find a newspaper to read. The cocido comes with a nice big homemade Paraguayan tortilla, which is not at all like a Mexican tortilla, but is yummy and greasy.

Cocido is a slightly mysterious yerba mate based beverage traditionally made by burning yerba and sugar with hot coals, adding milk, and straining out the burnt yerba and charcoal. There are various less hot-coal intensive ways of making it with varying degrees of efficacy. It ends up like a pleasant English breakfast tea and you usually eat it with these awful little stale bread balls, which are deceptively known as galletas (cookies).

I've been feeling pretty good the last couple of weeks, which has motivated me to really be more proactive about finding families I can spend time with. A good volunteer spends more time with families and Paraguayan friends than they do on facebook. A good volunteer would be better integrated with their community by this point  regardless of the circumstances of the site placement.  When I complain of boredom or loneliness I am just expressing failure to integrate with my community. With summer doldrums coming on I had better get to know some families or I am really going to be banging my head against the wall.

One cup at a time.

1 comment:

  1. Don't be too hard on yourself! I feel like our perception of our integration level is cyclical, you're probably doing fine! But yes, the real world is less lonely than the interwebs....