Thursday, February 2, 2012

Happy 2012!


Oh yes, them.

The Carter Langes are still alive in Paraguay! We are attempting to resuscitate the blog for 2012. Here it goes:

Backing up to 2011, in December we convened a group of women community members who were interested in making homemade soap. We held the first meeting to plan who would bring what ingredients, when and where it would take place, etc. The next week 10 women got together and made soap! It was great to some community members that otherwise may not cross paths working, laughing, and learning together.

Also in December, we spent two weeks seemingly doing nothing but celebrating birthdays and holidays in our community. Almost every day we were invited to a family's home for a big gathering, lots of wine, and of course, more food than we could possibly eat. However, we missed the Paraguayan celebration of Christmas and New Year's (watermelon and fireworks; sounds like the 4th of July) to return to good old Oregon!

Over three weeks we were ecstatic to see and catch up with family members and friends. We got to tell some of our favorite stories face-to-face and even taught a little Guarani to the people of North America. We were interviewed for the local paper and got a full-page writeup complete with color photos. We also enjoyed numerous delicious, comforting meals, Pacific Northwest wine and beer, and went three entire weeks without eating manioc. It was a lovely vacation.

In January, we returned to South America in the middle of Summer. While we were gone, Paraguay had suffered the hottest day in its recorded history, and was in the middle of what would be 19 days without rain (it usually rains about once a week in Paraguay). Needless to say, it was hot. We also learned that when your house is made of brick and concrete, although the sun has gone down, it does not stop the aforementioned bricks from radiating heat through the night. It was so hot that the supposed “cold” water in our shower came out hot, as the ground was hot enough to heat the pipes underneath.

While we were re-acclimating ourselves to heat, Guarani, and manioc, we learned good news: our group of women soap makers had met every week while were gone and had become a regular soap-making factory! This is a sustainable developer's dream scenario: a grassroots project that is carried on by the people of the community and is sustainable economically (the ingredients' costs are low and split between the group members), politically (it is not dependent on a certain politician or party in power), and environmentally (nearly all of the ingredients are available locally). Most importantly, it is self-perpetuating; meaning they are not dependent on Tegan and I to organize, resolve conflicts, etc. We are also proud that the group includes a cross-section of families and mini-communities in the area without being dominated by any one of them.

This week, we have enjoyed a refreshing change in the weather (temperature in the high 80s instead of high 90s) and finally have energy to do more than just sit in the shade, sweat, and complain about the heat. We have taken advantage of the weather to run around with our kid-friends, cook, do laundry, and finally buy chairs that weren't outlawed by the Nuremberg trials. We look forward to the start or a new school year this February, not only as that will signal a downturn in the daily temperature, but that we will be able to involve ourselves once again in the group of parents, teachers, and students that make up an active school community. Until then, we hope the best for you and yours, and thanks for being patient with our infrequent blog posts!

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