Friday, December 04, 2009

Next stop, Columbia

Well, I'm officially NOT a Peace Corps volunteer anymore. I am now officially a bum.

A bum going here:

San Augustín

Santa Marta


Ciudad Perdida


I will be back in the states on the 22nd of December. I will be spending Christmas with Anthony's family in Washington DC, and afterwards we are heading to Kansas City around the end of January. I'm just a little nervous around a new family for the holidays. I mean, do they, TOO, celebrate Christmas Eve with povaticia? For the love of Pete, will they have a whoopie cushion?
We will soon find out....

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Last Hurrah

I just got done with my last big activity with my community, hosting Long Practice of the new recruits, G31. I had 4 trainees come and work with my women´s group making soap, building compost piles, and touring various parts of Paraguayan Country Life. Remember when I was a little trainee and I wrote a poem about my experience? Well, hopefully these guys had more fun, and I think EVERYONE was super excited about their visit.

We had one day were the trainees had to get up in front of the ladies and do a presentation. Since I have more experience MAKING stuff instead of giving a speach about it, we MADE a Dia de Jabon (Soap Day!!)

We made Powdered Soap

Bar Soap used for washing clothes

Liquid Detergent Soap used for dishes and EVERYTHING else you can think of...

And Even Shampoo!!!

Afterwards, we toured some fields and even had a few free lunches!

this old guy made this special stool in the middle of his field just so he could sit in the shade under his mandarin orange tree - he knows what´s up

Paraguayan Rambo - Or as they say, 'Juan Rambo'

We all had a lot of fun, and as a special occasion, I made something that I have never before eaten in my life.


They were actually really good.

Here´s the recipe:
  • 6 cups cucumbers , cut or or sliced
  • 2 cups onion, chopped
  • 1.5 cups vinagre (i used apple vinagre and it rawked)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Dill

  1. Heat the liquids to a boil. Boil for 1 minute
  2. Cut the cucumbers and onions and alternately layer them in whatever recipiant you´re using
  3. Pour the boiling liquid over the cucumbers and onions
  4. Marinate them in the fridge for a minimum of 4 days

At first I thought there wasn´t enough liquid, so I added a little bit of water after the 2nd day, just to cover the cucumbers. Really, it should be enough and the cucumbers made their own juice as well. You can add any kind of spice you want, and probably some hot peppers if that´s what you're into. Now I understand why so many people pickle EVERYTHING. It´s so easy and delicious on a hot day!!!!

Well, there you have it. Not only am I coming back from the Peace Corps and new and improved woman, I also know how to make pickles. Oh. And I got a stamp made, too.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

When the heck are you DONE?

I know, I know. I think everyone has been asking me when I'm finally going to be done with Peace Corps. But you know what? I came real close to extending my service in order to work with an NGO specializing in women's groups. It's something that I've begun to develop a real interest in.

But I have also developed a taste for geology. So I've decided to not stay in Paraguay, and look into Grad School options. When will I go to grad school? Probably not for a loooooong time, but it made me realize that I have NO idea what I want to do when I finish my service.

But hey, that's a good thing.

Peace Corps has given me a new view of the world, and all the possibilities in it. Maybe development work is not my bag, but women's groups ARE. For years I thought I was paving the way for women by working in male dominated industries, but I realized that I also need to be working WITH women to make any changes. Go figure.

What I've Learned

So I'm also writing my last essay, called my Desciption of Service. It's a 3 page paper on what I've done with my Peace Corps service for the last two years. At first I thought this was a silly bogus paperwork process, but I've realized that I really have done a lot of kool things with my two years. Not that I didn't do kool stuff back home, but it's just so much different. I mean, who knows how to cook all items over an open fire? What's it like to pull your water from a well everyday? Bucket Bath? I'm an expert. Speaking a foreign language 90% of the time, and trying to make jokes...I mean make jokes FUNNY, in a completely different culture? Preparing all my food without lipton soup packages? Heck, I know how to make my own cheese and yogurt now! This may sound awful for some people, but it's a very liberating retrospect! This doesn't mean that the minute I get off the plane I'm going to go straight to Sonic for a corndog and onion rings....

anyone want to wash clothes with me in an old tire?

So as my time comes to a close, I am looking at all kinds of new adventures. I have decided to try and get a temporary job as a butcher. That's right. A butcher. I've killed plenty of chickens and pigs here, so why not learn how to make the choicest cuts of meat and put them directly on the grill? I don't think i can lose on this one. But once again, I may change my mind and go to China to teach English after my first day in the slaughter house....

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Che Paraguay

Well since my flickr account is being a bum and for the first time in years, my blogger account is being an angel, I'll post some photos here until I can get my tech guy to straighten things out ;D

Comite de Amistad in San Antonio
(if you look closely, I am in the center - one of the only people smiling like a goofball....)

My ladies of San Antonio, La Pastora making Chipa

My good lookin neighbors....and me!

no, i am not bringing back a souvenir like this....

Meat Market

Mercado 4, where if Paraguay has it, THIS is where you find it...but you have to be patient, like searching thru the Westport Flea Market.

My own personal Paraguayan Band

Good Lookin Volunteers

Thomas Wonder, me and Anthony

Plans within Plans

Is it bad that i haven't been into civilization for about a month? I don't feel any different, but when i come into the city, the first thing i do is put on my 'city clothes' and constantly want to wash my feet.

That's right, folks. I live in BFE. If I were to post pictures of what I look like on a daily basis, you would flip out. I'm tellin ya, it's worse than college. And I believe a lot of you had strong feelings about what i wore in college as well.

Hey...she looks Gooooood....

So last week was our Close Of Service conference. This means my group that I came in with over 2 years ago, now has to get mentally, medically, and materially ready to leave Paraguay in less than 3 months.

I will admit, I have had a few panic attacks already. Thoughts like, 'I won't be preparing the terere for my family when I get home' or 'What happens when I'm really craving deep fried tortillas from my favorite señora!'

But all in all, I think I'm ready to move on. To what...well...that's another question.

I'm trying to block out all the career stuff that I have to think about, like student loans, grad school, getting back into landscape design, etc. What I HAVE been thinking about is where i want to go when i get back for Cassie's Road Trip 2010.
  • After Peace Corps, Anthony and I will be traveling to Columbia. We want to tour the Lost City.This sounds like a great trek through the jungle for 6 days and 5 nights with nuthin but a mosquito net and a hammok. But seriously, should i bring 2 machetes or just one? It's a toughy.

  • After descending in the Washington DC area to enjoy Christmas with a new fam, should i pack heavy for the east coast winter? I have my thickest pair of torn up cargo pants I found in the Free Box at the Peace Corps office over 2 years ago. I think I'll fit in nicely in our nation's capital.

  • After a week's stay in Pittsburg I hope my 2 year old underwear that is about as big as my torso due to washing in a bucket suffice for a final plane ride back to Kansas City. My mom says i have tons of old clothes awaiting me in my closet, but alas, am I ready to don the high heels of hip urban bar fly society? Only time can tell.

  • My stepdad is giving me his old jeep, in which we can scurry off to Denver, Saint Louis, and finally Nashville, where I'm sure my talents on my brand new Paraguayan guitar will woo the socks off those record producers having dinner at the local Mexican restaurant in the strip mall. I am a one-woman paraguayan polka band. Thank gawd I kept the floral señor skirt which is 4 sizes too big, and just one big resewn mess. I think in Nashville most people only bathe once a week in a bucket too, right? I'm sure to find lots of friends.

while this is not a photo of myself, it is a photo of a peace corps volunteer bathing similar to myself- but i have never let my hair get that long....i swear....

  • Onto Georgia and then down to Florida, all the while camping out in the jeep in the cold March springtime. I just hope it's okay to use the bathroom where ever there is a spare bush. I mean, who wants to cart around corncobs the whole time when i can just use the thrifty nickel!!! Ahhh a week or two at the beach. Since Paraguay is a landlocked country, I just hope Florida has more than just 1 kind of fish, and the eels aren't so small. One can always dream....

So there it is, folks. After March, I will be fully ready for someone to just GIVE such a well adjusted Returned Peace Corps Volunteer a job. Preferably with up to an hour terere breaks.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Friday, June 26, 2009

Healthy Kitchens a reality?

So I've completed my work on my healthy kitchen project. My women's comite have completed all their documents, and I have turned over all the paperwork to the NGO I am working with in my community. We now only need her boss's signature to be able to turn in the application to the grant company. Supposedly they'll be ready by Monday. I am SO EXCITED.

If you remember I have been working on this project since January. I have given 6 presentations, got trees donated, and done countless project design meetings. All we need now are some good thoughts and a leetle beet more patience.

The project we designed is a concrete floor, sink, drains, screened window, new wood (for the walls), shelves and a work/prep table for each woman. The biggest thing was to get the animals out of the kitchen. And I don't mean the dog or cat. I mean chickens and pigs pooping EVERYWHERE. The ladies will build a little pig pen with the old materials from the existing kitchens, to house their animals. We have 13 families that will be benefiting from this project. Cross your fingers for me, and here are a few pics of the existing kitchens!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Does this look good cause I´m in Paraguay?

Whoa. Look what I found on evite:

Leave it to sexy soul singer Luther Vandross to come up with the ultimate in over-indulgence. Elvis, your fried peanut butter and bacon sandwich has nothin’ on this.

For Fathers’ Day, here’s what most people usually make: hot dogs, beans, burgers served on normal buns (I shudder at the thought). Imagine how excited Dad will be when he experiences the crazy salt/sweet intensity of the bacon doughnut burger.

It’s certainly not good for you. In fact, if you have high cholesterol, for the love of God, stop reading now. But it’s unquestionably tasty and popping up all over the place, from a tiny doughnut shop in Massachusetts to the Food Network (Paula Deen created one for the “ladies” with an egg on top).

Here is the original recipe: glazed doughnut, hamburger patty, cheese and bacon. For a truly authentic experience, use a Krispy Kreme.

Bacon Doughnut Burgers
1¼ pounds ground beef
1 egg
1 teaspoon garlic powder or onion powder (or whatever seasoning you prefer)
salt and pepper
4 slices of cheddar cheese
8 bacon slices
4 glazed doughnuts, sliced in half horizontally
Mix beef with egg and garlic powder, and season lightly with salt and pepper. Form into 4 patties. Cover and refrigerate for about 1 hour. Meanwhile, fire up the grill.

Place burgers on grate and grill until meat is to desired level of doneness. Top each burger with a slice of cheese during the last minute so the cheese will melt. Remove from grill, and let burgers rest 2 to 3 minutes to reabsorb the juices.

Meanwhile, fry bacon in skillet, place on paper towels when done, and pat off grease. Leave about 1 tablespoon of bacon grease in skillet. Place doughnut halves in skillet and fry over medium heat until slightly toasty. Alternatively, place doughnut halves on grill over low heat until toasty.
Place patties on doughnut halves, top each with two bacon slices and remaining doughnut halves.

Makes 4

Friday, June 05, 2009

This is Peace Corps Paraguay!

My friend Ricardo did this video for candidates of Paraguay! Most of the people in this video are current volunteers and I have drank beers with them! Good work! Hope you understand Paraguay a little more, and if this doesn't work, here's the link!

Notice the beekeeping, and detergent making! I work in the field as well, and yes, have driven an ox cart!

I'm a Peace Corps Volunteer, dammit! Not a Graphic Designer!

Okay, so I was coming into Asuncion today for a flu shot, and I saw an add for a food festival coming up. The funny thing about food festivals, is that because Paraguayans are not very food adventurous, its the same staples over and over, just prepared by a different person. I would compare it to a BBQ cookoff, but its usually the same ingredients, and most likely, the same spices. Maybe just different amounts. So - to sum up - the food festival not too diverse, but booths and booths of say 5 great comfort food favorites.

But the logo for the festival is what got me:

What is that fork trying to say to you? I looks...smelly. Notice, there is no food indicated on the fork. It's just...a... smelly fork.

Like I said, I'm no logo designer, but this reminds me of something someone put in a pile of poo. Then pulled it out and said, "hey, this stinks. Smell it!" and shoves it in your face.

I also just had a conversation with one of my ladies in site. She asked me why the economy in the United States was so bad. I realized as I started explaining to her, that she has no idea what economics IS. She never had a class in 9th grade where she watched that Michael Moore video about Flint, MI. In my broken Guaraní, I decided to talk to her about supply and demand, and the point of equilibrium (thank you Mr. Volker). I even had to take it down a notch and explain to her that most people live in cities, don't grow ANY of their own food or livestock, NOR have ANY relatives that do so. I had to explain that if the local mini shop down the road that sells flour, pasta, oil, and sugar cane whiskey ran out of customers, and no one grew beans or corn, what would they eat? Okay, so I'm not doing a great job of relating, but she didn't even understand how different our lives were in the united states, let alone a people that live in a city and produce NOTHING.

I had to break it down to what she understood. The stock market. And Frozen Concentrated Orange Juice.

It was a tough day.