I know I know, I promised to make my blog entries MORE frequent, and instead they have become even more infrequent. Life gets the best of us, even when it doesn’t seem like much is really going on. Bear with me as I quickly try to recap the past 6 weeks.

First thing is first, I have now been in Paraguay for 8 months and the 24th of this month marks 6 months in site. How on earth are these days passing so quickly? They say your second year in site goes by much faster because you have your projects developed and are fully integrated into your community—I can’t even imagine.

The "Crazy" pose with some amigitos..SHOES OFF!

The “Crazy” pose with some amigitos..SHOES OFF!

 

Living alone. It’s glorious. I shower when I please, cook what I want to eat and when I want to eat, I can stay up late or go to bed early…it’s great. There is one thing, however, that is NOT glorious about my abode. BUGS. I know I mentioned that I had a bug problem in my last blog, but since then, SPRING has SPRUNG and every living insect has decided, without considering my mental and physical health, to reproduce.  LITERALLY. I don’t say this because every corner of my house is actually covered in bugs, rather I say this because I find their EGGS on my curtains, on my walls, in my food containers. I swing at these beetles, ants, mosquitoes, silverfish, spiders, moths, centipedes, crickets, I smack them, I spray them, I yell at them, I speak to them in a moderate tone (just in case it might work), I spend 4 hours screening in my windows…none of it works. Just when I feel like I can relax without having some beetle kamikaze into my face, I feel something crawling on my neck or arm or leg. DAMNIT! They win again. They win every time! I would spend every last one of my monthly 295 dollars to make them disappear, however, I have yet to see any pest control vans roaming my dirt roads, so I will continue to fight this battle (I’ve gotten incredibly skilled at whipping out my flip-flop and killing multiple bugs at one time). I guess the bright side of the bug invasion is that they make chickens seem like cute little trained puppies or some other cute thing.

What is this thing on my WALL!?

What is this thing on my WALL!?

My morning sweep routine..seriously, this is one nights worth

My morning sweep routine..seriously, this is one nights worth

 

I have been able to travel around a bit over the past month. I visited two other volunteers in their sites, went to a strawberry festival, and went to a national park and swam in a waterfall. Being able to see other volunteers in their sites is really cool. Seeing other sites and comparing them to my own makes me realize that I have a very centralized location. The volunteers that I’ve visited live very far from the nearest highways and only have a couple of buses each day, compared to my site where buses pass every hour or more. The strawberry festival, pictures included, was definitely worth the trip. My friend Bree and I decided to go on a day when the temperatures peaked at 104 (miserable), but we didn’t know that when we started our journey there. We got on a bus and headed off. We saw a couple of booths on the side of the street and passed them, still wondering when we would find THE strawberry festival. Finally, we decided to ask, and turns out, those booths on the side of the street WERE the strawberry festival. Apparently the term ‘festival’ here can be a very ambiguous term. Although the festival wasn’t a full on festival you would expect in the states, the strawberry empanadas, juice, ice cream, popsicles, cake, liquor, and actual strawberries, were worth the trip to the cute little town of Aregua.

Yummy Treats @ Strawberry Fest

Yummy Treats @ Strawberry Fest

Strawberry Fest

Strawberry Fest

Strawberry Fest

Strawberry Fest

 

A couple of weeks after visiting my friend Bree and adventuring off to the strawberry festival, a big group of volunteers went to visit our fellow volunteer and friend, Amy, in her site. From her site we decided we would rent a bus to take us to Salto Cristal, a waterfall that is supposed to be very beautiful and well worth the trip. Well, we traveled, we traveled and we traveled and finally, we arrived. The waterfall was beautiful, but it looked different from the one we had seen in photos. A group of volunteers decided to make sure we were in the right place, and of course, we weren’t. Turns out, our hired bus driver didn’t know where Salto Cristal actually was. Either way, the waterfall was beautiful and hanging out together was a blast. Look at that, rolling with the punches.

Enjoying the falls!

Enjoying the falls!

The group headed to "Salto Cristal"

The group headed to “Salto Cristal”

 

Last weekend I went to my training community to attend a small family dinner for one of my first host sister’s Quinceañera (15th birthday). Her sisters had let me know that they wouldn’t be able to afford a big party, so it would just be the family at their house. I packed lightly and was really proud of myself for only taking a small purse with my pj’s and toothbrush. I arrived to find the whole family decorating the house for a big party. Um..did someone say 70 people? Now, I thought I had dressed appropriately for a small family dinner, but I was not prepared for a full on party. I know Paraguayans and when they hear “Quinceañera” they go ALL OUT (these are the same sisters that shaved their eyebrows and got super dressed up to CLIMB a hill on Easter morning)! I ended up having to borrow clothes and make-up from one of my host sisters to make myself more appropriate. Being with all of my host sisters, and getting ready together, really made me feel like I was a part of their family. The party ended up being very beautiful and the fact that I hadn’t packed a suitable outfit didn’t seem to matter by the end of the night. I have two more Quinceañeras in November and you better believe I will be properly dressed for both of them!

With my host sister @ her Quince

With my host sister @ her Quince

1st Host Fam, Fabiola's Quince

1st Host Fam, Fabiola’s Quince

On to working in the community: I determined that in order to give myself some sort of normal schedule, all I had to do was make plans, set days and hours, and that would be that. Simple? NO. I didn’t take into account that there would be rain (remember, Paraguayans don’t like to leave their homes when it’s raining), teacher strikes, soccer tournaments, dance practice, etc. Basically, each week I start out with a schedule. Tuesday, I have English class from 8-9:30, Wednesday I have my dental hygiene classes from 3-4, Thursday English classes and then 3-4 Dental Hygiene, and Friday English class from 10:30-11:30. That all looks great, written out, but not once in the past month and a half have I been able to successfully follow through with this schedule. I’ll head to the school only to discover school was actually canceled because the clouds were out. I’ll go to the high school and the students will let me know that we can’t have English class because they need to practice for an academic competition they have in 2 weeks. It can be VERY frustrating. I like having plans and structure, but it is nearly impossible here. Recently, as much as I try to let it go, this has been making me feel inadequate (just imagine having your 5 hour work week cut in half). Luckily the school year is coming to an end, so I’m hoping after summer vacation I will come back with a renewed outlook on teaching in the schools and come up with a solution to the ever-changing schedule.

Oh, and remember how part of my dental project was to have toothbrushes and toothpaste donated along with a visit from the dental/health van that my department runs? Well, when we turned in our project to the governor and he approved it (SWEET), he didn’t actually read the project (NOT SWEET). Thus, he didn’t see that he had agreed to donating 200 toothbrushes and toothpaste. Basically he only agreed to the dental/health van. This means that a teacher from the school and I have to go spend another seven hours at the governor’s office to ask him again.  Oh, and the van that was supposed to have two doctors and one dentist, ending up only having one doctor—defeating the whole purpose, which was to have a dentist come after the completion of my month long dental series. But, as mentioned in my previous paragraph, the month long dental series has turned into 2 months, so I guess it makes sense that the dentist never came?

Why we use floss demo

Why we use floss demo

Partner brushing..a real hit

Partner brushing..a real hit

Dental Health Materials

Dental Health Materials

 

I am still working with the women’s commissions (up to 3 now). I am helping them to elaborate one Fogon project, a modern bathroom project, and most recently a baby chicken project (they will raise them, then sell their meat). These three groups help me use up the extra time that I’ve recently had. They seem to think that I really know what I’m doing, and ask me to help them and give them advice all the time. Little do they know that I too am learning as I go, but it is a real confidence booster.

I have yet to complete my census. It isn’t bad once I start, but the idea of going to people’s houses and asking them awkward questions like, “What kind of bathroom do you have,” “where do you throw your trash,” and “Does anyone in your house have STDS?” makes me unbearably uncomfortable, needless to say, out of my 50 I have to do, I still have 30 left.

That is all for now. I know it doesn’t seem like much but as time passes, my daily life seems to give me less things that stick out as unordinary and “blog worthy.” I guess that means I am slowly getting accustomed to the things that stood out as strange before. The other day, my foot started hurting and I leaned down to find my third case of pique. It didn’t even faze me. Someone picks their nose, and I think, “I feel you, all of this dust makes me want to do the same.” I was chatting with my dad the other day and he stopped the conversation to ask, “is that a CHICKEN in the background?” It was a chicken, and it had been blabbing on our entire conversation, but these ears of mine have gone chicken deaf. The nearest volunteer came to visit me in my house the other day and asked, “Hey, where’s your sink?” Oh, right. I don’t have a sink. This is my life now, and it feels kind of good!

Visiting the Cerro with the next Quinceañera

Visiting the Cerro with the next Quinceañera

 

Adventuring

Adventuring

Hanging out at the soccer tourney..(Maddles, notice the arm grabs)

Hanging out at the soccer tourney..(Maddles, notice the arm grabs)

My favorite class. Preschool

My favorite class. Preschool

Fresh Molasses bubbles..gross

Fresh Molasses bubbles..gross

 

 

 

As always, I miss my family and friends more than you guys know and hope you all are well. Sending my love!

Xoxo

Bridget

A.K.A: Brigida

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