Thursday, August 21, 2008

When Paraguayans give you lemons that look like oranges, make lemonade.

I have to begin this entry with a bit of information about my emotional state right now. I arrived in Paraguay with very little expectations regarding my future living situations. I honestly knew nothing about this country, its culutre, or its ways of life. I was telling a fellow volunteer the other day (because I like weird metaphors) that Paraguay and Peace Corps has been like a mountain for me, that I am determined to climb. From day one, there was no map or guide, but I had an amazing support network of fellow volunteers, and family and friends from home behind me.

Now, three months later, I have expectations. I have ideas about what life here should be like. I have finally mastered the crazy bus system. My Castellano finally makes some sense. I can see the peak of the mountain!

But then, I moved to my site- 25 de Diciembre (what I like to call my little "truck stop town"). Now, there are clouds over my mountain, and I cannot see a thing. This is not the Paraguay I have grown to love over the past 3 months, and I have no idea where I am going!

I asked for a site with solidarity, and a sense of community. Some common bond (art or culture perhaps) that brings the community together. Something to be proud in. Something to show off. Instead, I get the exact opposite. 25 de Diciembre, a large, isolated, underdeveloped and poor district that does not work together, and has no trust in thier Intendente (mayor) or Municipality. Oh... what have I gotten myself into...

But then, a light switch went off.

I do not like my site, at all...

and because of this, I love it.

It´s not me, and it is not what I expected nor wanted in a site, which makes it perfect. I don`t know if Peace Corps knew this when they chose 25 for me, but their MISS is slowly turning into a dead on hit. With each and every day... each and every; mosquito bite, cup of terrere, Km I have to walk (and its a lot), cold shower I have to take, horrible translation, time that Raquel`s car breaks down or is stuck in the mud, sun burn, beso y adios, explanation of what the hell it is I am doing here in broken Castellano, rooster at 4am, and block of mandioca I have to eat... I feel stronger.

So yea, I can see the light. There is so much potential here beacuase there is litterally nothing. When you have nothing, the only direction you can move is up.


Wait, look past the nothingness that is my site... past the open fields and long stretches of dirt roads, and you can see passion for change. Need for change. Desire to work. Willingness to try. Faith in belief.

So now I have a map. A little guide for conquering this mountain. Sure it´s in Guarani, and the illustrations make no sense, but it`s my home. And if 25 can welcome me into their homes and hearts with no questions asked... I can let them into my heart as well.


Emmaly said...

Im so happy to hear you are adjusting- slowly but surely! How inspirational this entry was! Not that me moving to Richmond compares to you moving to Paraguay, but... Ive been non-stop complaining how I hate Richmond, but you have so much you are having to overcome in order to find beauty- and you are doing it!! Which means I can learn to like it here too. I'll be sure to read this post again the next time I'm doubting my decision to move. Continue with the updates, miss you!

Sanctuary said...

you are a wonderful tour guide my dear. i'm terribly excited to come and visit. tossing myself off a bus and on to your doorstep will be divine. just remind me not to trample the new baby. (yes, read into that one - very deeply) and math will be coming as well and I hope christian. but... back to us. you will have to get me to the best shopping mall and of course somewhere to touch up my airbrushed nails. uh oh. wait, wrong country for that eh? ha, ha! that bread with cheese sounds on point- hord some of it, just in case your rations run low again... and remember, no eating small children. no excuses. anyhow, you're writing is superb and i'm (as always) very proud of you, all your choices, your giving heart and ample... you fill in the blank. you are forever my favorite courtney, my favorite cousin living in paraguay. te amo mucho. todo mi corazon para tu. para siempre. cha