I know, I know! It’s been two months and I haven’t updated the blog, but it is not because I’ve forgotten, am lazy, or because I don’t want anyone to know what I’m doing, rather it is because my computer was stolen! Yes, you heard right. The 13 inch Macbook that got me through all four years of college and journeyed with me into the real world was stolen. I will explain later, but for now I have a lot to catch up on.

School started in Comandante Peralta about two weeks ago, so up until then I’ve been enjoying every last bit of summer with trips around Paraguay for Carnaval celebrations, summer camps, and a unique (to say the least) fishing trip. Summer was wonderful, but I am now officially back in the swing of things and could not be happier about it. April 20th will mark my one year mark of being an official volunteer and although I’ll still have a year left,  I’m already thinking about how hard it will be to leave my community that I’ve grown to love and see as my own.

As I mentioned in my last blog, this summer two of my close friends and I decided to host a traveling summer camp in all of our sites. We started in my site, traveled to Bree’s site, and ended in Maddy’s site. The camps were designed for kids between the ages of 6 and 12, lasted for four days each, and consisted of themes including: art and science, exercise and health, culture and travel, and finished with a game day filled with games that are typical in the United States (sack races, slipping slides, balloon tosses, etc). It was a blast! Not only was it nice being able to hang out with my girlfriends during the slowest and hottest part of the Paraguayan summer, but we also got to know the kids in our sites and introduce them to a fun concept that we know so well in the U.S, the SUMMER CAMP! We of course had a couple of mishaps. In my site little Carlos got a little rowdy and decided to hit the slipping slide (yes I know these were probably outlawed in the states years ago for being so dangerous) feet first. This resulted in a head slam that left him whimpering and crying until his mom came to take him home (she also cried). In Bree’s site, Camila stubbed her toe during a sack race and we’re assuming due to her being dehydrated, her toe wouldn’t stop bleeding. This led to more tears and a quick end to the sack races. Both incidents occurred on game day, the last day. Not too bad! We’re hoping that because of the low injury rate parents will entrust their children to us again next summer.

Maddy's kiddos with their certificates

Maddy’s kiddos with their certificates

Mud slide

Mud slide

Exercise time @ camp

Exercise time @ camp

Slippin slide time!

Slippin slide time!

Silly pose with my kiddos @ camp

Silly pose with my kiddos @ camp

Science day @ Camp..Slimee!

Science day @ Camp..Slimee!

Last year Peace Corps Paraguay started to host a camp that is held in many another Peace Corps posts around the world, Camp GLOW (Girls Leading Our World). I was able to invite three girls from my site between the ages of 15 and 17 this year, and it was such a great experience for us all. It is an overnight camp where the girls get to stay in cabins, eat in a mess hall and there was even a camp fire! Sexual health, cyber safety, healthy relationships v. unhealthy relationships, theater, exercise, and many other topics were talked about and my girls responded so well to everything! Even now, a month and a half later I’ll stop by one of their houses and they’ll start talking about how much fun they had, someone they met at the camp, or they will start singing a camp song we learned there. Next year I have decided to be a part of the planning and I am already so excited to participate again in such an amazing camp focused on empowering women!

Camp GLOW cabin

Camp GLOW cabin

All of the camp participants!

All of the camp participants!

The lovely ladies of Comandante Peralta!

The lovely ladies of Comandante Peralta!

Camp GLOW with our cabin

Camp GLOW with our cabin

Starting at the end of January and continuing into February the Carnaval season took over Paraguay. Many have heard of Carnaval celebrations in Brazil, but I was surprised by all of the celebrations here. Of course they aren’t as large and as crazy, but seeing as how I can’t just drop everything for a weekend trip to Brazil, I definitely got my fix here in Paraguay! Carnaval is basically a large street parade where samba groups prepare dances and dance along a designated and blocked off street. They wear super elaborate and colorful costumes with lots of feathers and glitter. It is a beautiful spectacle. In the stands the crowds cheer, spray foam on each other, dance and sip on adult beverages. I went to the Carnaval in Encarnacion to watch two Peace Corps Volunteers who live there perform and then traveled to Villarica a couple weeks later to experience another Carnaval.  (This is where it happened! While we were out of our hotel room enjoying the festivities, someone entered our hotel room and stole 2 computers (one being mine), money, a cell phone, a camera, and a quick dry towel -weird.)

Celebrity pose at Carnaval

Celebrity pose at Carnaval

Carnaval in Villarica: FOAM in hand

Carnaval in Villarica: FOAM in hand

Carnaval in Encarnacion w/ our lovely volunteers

Carnaval in Encarnacion w/ our lovely volunteers

Carnaval 2

Encarnacion beach time

Encarnacion beach time

A couple of weeks ago my community contact asked me if I wanted to join a fishing trip their commission was going to be hosting to raise money for a project they are trying to fund. They’d be driving to Pilar where the fishing was GREAT and then we’d be returning. I decided it would be a lot of fun and I love fish, so I joined the group. We left my community at 3 A.M, sat on a bus for about 4 hours and arrived at our destination. A POND along the road. I thought maybe someone knew something I didn’t, so although I thought it was weird we would drive so far to fish at a pond (mind you there are ponds much closer) I stayed positive I’d catch a real prize fish. I realized my positivity was not warranted when after about 2 hours the whole group had about 3 fish in total—three SMALL piranhas. Similar to many other situations in Paraguay, the only thing you can do is laugh. I realized three things about fishing in Paraguay this day. 1. They use bamboo sticks to fish (clearly you’re not catching the big guys with a bamboo pole). 2. They use meat as bait (no surprise they’re catching piranhas), and 3. They DO NOT catch and release. No matter how small the fish is, we’re taking it home to eat. I’ve gotta admit, the Piranha soup a couple of guys manage to stew up was delicious! There has been talk of another fishing trip, and I’ve already said I would go again. Hopefully better luck next time.

Pond fishing

Pond fishing

Bottle Fishing

Bottle Fishing

Pre Fish Soup

Pre Fish Soup

The fish you catch when using meat bait

The fish you catch when using meat bait

More recently I have been very busy in site! Still working with the commissions doing cooking classes, working in one school doing a large scale world map on one of their walls, and most recently I started an evening exercise class. I have about 7 women/ young girls that have been attending pretty regularly and it is a lot of fun! We start with some easy exercises (jumping jacks, butt kicks, etc), stretching, and then we walk and jog laps around the soccer field. Each week a couple of new people come and join us, or walk separately, but I figure at least they know they have a place where they can come and be active. Another volunteer and I are hoping to plan some sort of 5k or 10k walk/jog race before we end our service to emphasize how important living a healthy, active lifestyle is. I’m trying to set a good example and have been training to run my first half marathon in May which has also been keeping me busy. Any and all suggestions are very much appreciated!

That is the update for now. I can’t believe it has been over a year since I have been home. I miss my family, friends, carne asado burritos and good sushi every day, but as I mentioned, I feel like this is my home now. The kindness that I have received and continue to receive from my neighbors, friends and host families fills me with so much happiness! A year later, I thank you all for continuing to follow my journey! Also, Happy Easter!

Recent PC Trainee visit

Recent PC Trainee visit

xoxo Bridget

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