Saturday, July 9, 2011

In Paraguay, the Electric Boogaloo isn't how you get down, it's how you get clean.

I apologize for the lack of posts, and that they have been boring, with terrible writing. My access to internet is more limited than I had expected. Mostly, my free time is less than expected. I spend all day in training, and by the time I get home it’s dark. We don’t go out much when it’s dark here in Paraguay. I’m not sure as to why, but I’ve theorized there are vampires here. It’s the only logical explanation to such an aversion to sunset.

I love Paraguay but I would like to introduce a recurring blog segment entitled “WTF Paraguay?” First on the list is the genius innovation known as the Electric Showerhead.
Think about those words next to each other. ELECTRIC, and SHOWER.  To use the electric shower head, you flip on the power, and then turn on the water. The water completes the electrical current of the filament located inside the shower head. The filament then heats the water that falls onto your naked body. But don’t worry, we take precautions. You must make sure to turn off the electricity and be out of the shower before turning off the water as to prevent electrocution, and the device only explodes or lights on fire every once in a while. Also: NEVER TOUCH THE SHOWER HEAD. After all that, the worst part isn’t even the complete disregard for user safety. The thing doesn’t even work that well! Sometimes the water never gets hot. If it does, it is sure to turn off randomly leaving you freezing with a head full of shampoo. Peace Corps talks about how there will be things you never get used to. This will be one.

Creative plumbing solutions aside, it has been going well.  The terrain is beautiful here. I almost think that’s what Oakland would look like if it went untouched:  A lush green land scape dotted with Palms, in a non tropical climate. Unfortunately, not quite the same climbing options as Oakland, and no Cato’s.  However, crime and poverty might be on a similar scale, and both have thriving gold resale markets.

I am currently with a group of 23 other trainees, that range from a guy who graduated college less than two weeks before arrival, to a woman who just turned 58. I feel very fortunate to be surrounded by such an incredible group of people. My peers are intelligent and motivated. We all get along very well, even after a month of seeing way too much of each other under intense conditions. Please feel free to be cynical and wait to ask me how much I still like these people in another month.

Donna Carmen in her natural habitat.
During training, I am living with a woman named Carmen and her 16 year old son. Carmen is a butcher and only a little bit crazy. For example: Carmen has come to the assumption that I must know karate, seeing as I will leave the house by myself at 7:00pm.  I’m letting her continue to think that, for no other reason than it will be the closest I get to actually knowing Karate. Her and I have really come to be friends, over Maté sessions most evenings. (Maté is a hot tea shared among friends here. It’s difficult to explain, but it’s a big deal. Just google it.) During maté we talk about everything. Topics have included: the advantages of the Stroessner dictatorship; what snow is and how we function with it in the US: and finally my view of Barack Obama and if I’m nervous that his election may be an indication of the apocalypse as described in the Book of Revelations. Honestly, she’s awesome. We laugh often. She’s convinced I’m going to find a Paraguayan boyfriend, and is plotting as to how I can stay and live with her rather than move on to a new site to start my work. This is all after admitting to being afraid I was a spy for the first week. Like I said, only a little bit crazy.

I have more to come, but I don’t like gargantuan posts. But stay tuned for San Juan.