Mba’éichapa (mmm-bah-ay-sha-pa) means `greetings´in Guaraní.
Whoa! What a week! We arrived in Paraguay after a long flight from Miami to the mall/airport in Montevideo, Uruguay and a connecting flight to Asuncion.
The first night, the Peace Corps put the 47 of us up in a seminary outside of our training community. We were all glad to not have to speak any Spanish after our flights. The highlight for Matthew was playing with a glow-in-the-dark frisbee with some other trainees and Paraguayan kids. Tegan got her first sip of tereré (the national drink of Paraguay. It´s like maté, but cold). You hear a lot about how tereré is ubiquitous here, but seriously, every single person in the airport had a thermos, cup, and straw.
Thursday, we had our first day of training. Lots of policies were beaten into us, we got some shots, and got to know our fellow trainees better. So far, we have met another Lewis & Clark graduate, someone who studied in Seville, Spain, and another Oregonian. Small world. We would say the one thing almost everyone has in common is a history of global travel and volunteer experience.
Thursday we also suffered our first bout of...gastrointestinal maladies. But that´s the subject for another post.
We also had some interviews en español. Matthew thought he bombed his but got his ticket punched to skip ahead and begin learning Guaraní. Tegan thought she kicked some butt in the interview only to discover she has some reviewing of Spanish yet to do. Because the language classes are taught by native Paraguayans, our teachers do not speak any English. This means we learn Guaraní in Spanish, which has been a real brain teaser at times. Having different language classes has been good for us because we share what we learn when we get home.
Speaking of home, we met, and began living with, our host family Thursday night. We have a very warm and accommodating couple as host parents. They have a 15 year old boy who is...a 15 year old boy. He is a bit moody, but puts up with us (also, I think we kicked him out of his roomfor the next 10 weeks, so I can understand some resentment). We are trying to wear down hisdefenses by playing chess and card games with him. Also, we suppose our familia paraguaya isfairly well off; they have a maid, washing machine, and multiple televisions with cable. The houseand yard are immaculately clean. For pets, they have at least nine birds, including one overlycurious one that we believe thinks he is a human being. Our feet are his best friends whom he snuggles during meals and whenever we sit, but we are terrified of squashing their beloved little birdie! Already Tegan gave him a solid punt across the dining room when she was walking to the table. Oops! He survived.
So far, Paraguay has been good to us. The town we live in is neither large nor small, so the people are friendly enough and not terribly surprised to see so many gringos walking around. We have one and a half days off each week (Saturday afternoons and all day Sunday) and are just trying to adjust to our new schedule. Also, there is the heat. You end up sweating from places you did not know had sweat glands. Today it rained, which makes it very humid, but much, much cooler. Speaking Spanish and Guaraní for most of the day is taking its toll. Some of this post we have had to translate from Spanish back to English!
We miss all of you! Don´t be shy about keeping us posted on adventures of your own!
P.S. Photos coming soon!