Monday, December 29, 2008

Christmas in Paraguay

Hello everybody and Merry Christmas! Following this link you can see pictures of the holiday festivities that went on down here in Cruce Guajaibi.

I was invited to spend Christmas with the family of a teacher that I have worked with, Profesor Jorje. Nearly all of his 11 brothers came, plus their children and wives and cousins making for a big party. As you can see in the pictures, we had plenty of food for all. Christmas Eve morning they slaughtered a cow and a pig, and a turkey.

The tradition here is to have Christmas dinner at midnight on Christmas Eve. We spent the time before dinner sitting by the grill and enjoying beer and clerico (fresh fruit salad drink with wine and sometimes Sprite).

After dinner, we went to bed, I was given a place to sleep there so I wouldn't have to ride the 30 minutes back to my house on my bicycle. I woke up on Christmas day planning on thanking them and then heading home. Instead, I stayed and ate possbly more meat than ever in my life (see picture of cow ribs).

Finally about 2 in the afternoon I thanked everybody and slowly headed home to rest up and cool off before my evening invitation on the other side of the community. That family, another teacher I know, is a little more poor but no less generious and kind.

For new years I will be up at the San Rafael reserve spending some time with a Peace Corps buddy. More pictures to come.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Some new photos

I have uploaded some new photos in Picasa.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Holiday Plans

With the holiday season in full swing, I have to keep reminding myself that it's December not July. The weather has been near 100 most days, and we just got our first rainfall in about 40 days down in my part of the country. Unfortunately it came a little too late to save the corn crop for a lot of farmers, and a lot of soy is in danger of failing also.

I am on the homeward swing of a 5 day trip that has included an open mic night (I played Rocky Top on my charango with a mouth harp finish) and a going away party for a group of environmental volunteers in Asuncion. That going away party marked my 1 year mark in country as a sworn in Peace Corps Volunteer. It would be more overwhelming except that time is going so fast that I don't think much about it these days.

Last Tuesday the son of my community contact family died suddenly. Though it was sudden, it wasn't unexpected as he has been completely dependant on the care of his family from a very young age after a doctor overdosed him on anesthesia. For 13 years his family took excellent and loving care of him and it has been a testament to what kind of people they are. He died on Tuesday, and was buried the next day after a night in which the entire family stayed up all night with the open coffin in the living room on a table surrounded by flowers and candles. This Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday they will hold afternoon prayer services for him. It has been a sad time but also a time for the family to get closer. I feel lucky and honored to have been included as a part of this process of dealing with a loss in a family that I have only known for a relatively short time.

I will be home in my site for Christmas, and then travel with my contact family to visit their extended family in another part of the country to celebrate the birthday of Rocio, their youngest daughter. While there, we will tour a nearby ecological reserve. It is a rare example of eco tourism in Paraguay so should be very interesting.

After Rocio's birthday, I will return to my house, and then ride my bicycle out to the San Rafael forest reserve to spend new years with some friends, one of which will be launching his cross-continent bicycle ride to raise money for that reserve. My plan is to ride out with him as the rode will take him right by my house on his way out.