5 months in Paraguay! I can hardly believe how fast time is flying. Apologies for not updating sooner, but aside from being pretty busy I wanted to wait until after my birthday to update, in the case that anything blog worthy should occur. Boy am I sure glad that I did.

This past month has been eventful to say the least. I have lived with three new families (1 more month until I can move into my own house), started the reparations on my house, began working in the school and with a new woman’s commission, celebrated my 23rd birthday in Paraguay, got bit by a monkey, and saw a presidential impeachment firsthand!

Love my new home

Love my new home

Host family #3

Host family #3

ASADO for 4=Enough Meat for 10 (host fam #4)

ASADO for 4=Enough Meat for 10 (host fam #4)

I love living with families! It is a pain in the butt to have to drag my stuff from one place to another every couple of weeks, but it has been such a great way to get to know families in the community and it makes the time fly by; However, at times it can be stressful to have 5 new families that actually think of me as their own.

Stressful situation number 1: On Father’s Day I was living with one family, but decided I wanted to go visit two of my other families that lived nearby to say happy father’s day. I got dragged into a 2-hour chat with one family, got forced to eat at the second family’s home (despite telling them I would have to eat again with the family I was living with), and then had to actually eat again with the family I was living with (this could explain my weight gain?)! After all of this, I received a text message from the only family I didn’t visit, because they live a 45-minute walk away, telling me I was rude for not spending the day with them! Now whenever someone mentions a community event or holiday, I get nervous! Who will I spend this holiday with? Who will I go to (x) event with? But then I think to myself, ‘you know, this could be a lot worse! What if these people hated me?’

Stressful situation number 2: My first host mom, Eduvigis, asked me to go over to her house and stay the night with her 15-year-old daughter as she was going to be spending the night in Asunción and her husband was working out of town. I agreed and explained the situation to the family I was living with. I went to Eduvigis’ house to find out that she was going to be returning from Asunción. “Oh great, I’ll just go back to my current host family’s home,” I thought. Then Eduvigis returned and after some chatting, explained to me that her daughter sometimes cries when I leave their house, and watches the street to see if I’ll pass by. After this conversation, I had decided I would stay the night so I wouldn’t have to think about her daughter crying for me if I left. Not 5 minutes later, I get a text message from the host mom I was living with saying, “You know what? Brandon (My 8 year old host brother) is crying because of you, he said he misses you a lot.” Oh NOO! Is this normal? Do people normally cry in these situations?

Aside from the stressful and sometimes awkward situations that I encounter with my families, I am very grateful that all of these families have 1. Opened their homes up to me and 2. Treat me like a family member. I believe these relationships will make my time in Paraguay very special.

I started teaching English classes last week and am surprisingly having a great time. At first the thought of teaching in a classroom full of the same 15-17 year old boys who whistle and chirp at me as I walk by their school every day made me shudder, but to be honest it has worked out for the best. I think they are starting to have a lot more respect for me (the kissy noises and ch-ch-ch’s have decreased) and it has helped me get to know the students that I hope to make an impact on most. I did not plan on teaching English originally, I felt there were much more important things to focus on, but I realize that once the students know me and trust me I can start talking about things that need to be discussed (i.e, sex education and other health related topics).

With the woman’s commissions I have been giving cooking lessons and using any down time to squeeze in talks on health related topics: high blood pressure, the benefits of fiber, nutrition, etc. So far we have made bran bread (a very disgusting concept because bran is used only as pig food here), banana bread, and next week alfajores (not healthy, but possibly something they can sell for a small profit). Very enjoyable and helps me get to know more women in my community.

Last Tuesday I celebrated my 23rd birthday in Paraguay. The first of two birthdays that I will be celebrating in Paraguay, and I can honestly say I’m already excited for next year! It is a Paraguayan tradition to host a birthday. You cook the food, you buy the food, you invite the people, and they bring the gifts. From day one, people have been asking me, “What are we eating for your birthday?” Knowing I wouldn’t be able to (nor willing) to host all of the people that asked me this question, I decided I was going to make a birthday treat to hand out to my families and friends. I decided on alfajores (recipe here). They were fun and easy to make and everyone seemed to enjoy them. Now everyone I gave them to has been asking for private baking classes to make them. Considering alfajores are a South American treat, I feel pretty special. So, I passed out the cookies, taught two English classes in the high school, and then went home to my host family’s house where they surprised me with balloons, a cake, a BBQ chicken lunch, and a green salad (wwwhhhatt???). My host mom also decided to take the stereo outside to blast music in my honor.  It was so sweet and I was such a happy girl. It didn’t end there. The following day was another host sister’s birthday, so I got to have chicken and cake again with a different family! Truly too good to be true..but true.

Host family #4 on my Birthday!

Host family #4 on my Birthday!

Birthday Shananigans: Face in the cake

Birthday Shananigans: Face in the cake

Birthday Alfajores

Birthday Alfajores

Birthday celebrations round 2

Birthday celebrations round 2

Now on to how I got bit by a monkey and the moment that made me feel like I was a true Peace Corps volunteer. As mentioned earlier in this post, I have been spending time working with women’s commissions and giving cooking lessons. Last Thursday, I went to make bran bread with one of these women’s commissions at a house where there just happens to be a monkey. I have been there twice before and have seen this aforementioned monkey both times. It is a cute and friendly looking monkey, but I’ve seen enough 20/20 and Dateline specials to know that these seemingly friendly creatures of the wild are just that..WILD, so I keep my distance. Well, here we were, we had made the bread and were waiting for it to rise, so I decided to go and take a picture of the pig that had just been slaughtered (I thought that would be a fun blog picture). The pig just happened to be very close to where this monkey was chained to a tree. I was snapping a picture of the dead pig when I felt this sharp pain in my leg and heard HAKE (be careful in Guarani) from the old man in front of me who was butchering up the pig. I turned around to see this crazy monkey trying to bite me AGAIN. The men were laughing as I ran away and tried to stay calm and cool.  One of the ladies in the commission then took me into her bedroom and asked me to pull down my pants and show her and the other ladies the bite. It was then, standing in a room full of Paraguayan ladies I hardly know, all speaking a language I hardly understand, with my pants down so they could check out the monkey bite on my leg, that I realized …I really am in the Peace Corps! I had to chuckle. Incase that scared you, don’t you worry. A couple of rabies shots and some antibiotics were administered to prevent any problems. Needless to say, I will NOT be going anywhere near that little twerp, or any of his furry little relatives for that matter, EVER again.

Pre-attack

Pre-attack

The pig image that resulted in a monkey bite

The pig image that resulted in a monkey bite

Post Attack..Is it laughing?

Post Attack..Is it laughing?

The damage

The damage

Lastly, the former president of Paraguay was impeached! As many articles as I’ve read on this topic, it is a complicated situation and goes further into history and detail than I could possibly understand. If you are interested, here is a link to an article that briefly discusses what happened. Everything appears to be calm for now.

Happy belated Fourth of July to all of you! All of us volunteers made sure to celebrate this weekend in Asunción at the U.S Embassy where every year they host a Fourth of July picnic. Tug-of-war, 3 legged races, egg tosses, hamburgers, hot dogs, potato chips, and Coors Light. I am and forever will be, proud to be an American!

USA USA USA

USA USA USA

As always thanks for reading!

Miss you all and hope you’re staying cool in the summer heat.

Xoxo Bridget

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