4/3/13 – 5/9/13
I’ve finally moved! It’s been a really long process to get here and that’s probably why I’m so proud of my shack in the middle of nowhere. I’ve replaced a roof, patched walls & floors, helped build new doors & windows, installed electricity, and secured the place with bolts and locks. I moved over to my new house on St. Patrick’s Day and I’m enjoying my service a lot more now. It’s great being able to cook my own food, exercise more, and just do things on my own schedule.
The best parts of my days now are just being able to work in my garden and listen to music while I do it. This week, I built the fence around the garden and dug some trenches around the edges for better water management. Most everything I do still stimulates interest in the entire community so the goal is to get people to practice some of the same permagarden methods that I’m using in their own gardens. I’m teaching English at the high school, which some kids are interested in, and some just aren’t but that’s okay. I’m looking forward to starting up a school garden project soon as well.
A lot of what I do right now is just learning how to live (on my own) in Paraguay. I don’t have running water so carrying water from a well in town takes up a surprising amount of time. Washing clothes by hand, growing my own food, bathing from a bucket – there’s a lesson in it somewhere but it takes some getting used to. It’s gotten cooler here, which is something I never thought would happen, and I love it. It can be really cold at night, but a good sleeping bag does the trick.
At the top of the charts of “Best Parts of Living Alone” alongside any ounce of privacy and gardening, is definitely my new neighbor, Dona Ambrosia! Like the salad. “Neighbor” actually doesn’t do her justice; she’s my community’s witch! And wouldn’t you know, I would be the lucky guy to live across the street from her in that abandoned shack! Dona Ambrosia measures about 4’8”, wears a headdress, and has a kickass walking stick/staff that has less to do with walking and more to do with spells and hitting the cows that come into her yard. There are all kinds of benefits to having a witch as your neighbor, but with the advantages, also come the disadvantages.
Top 3 Advantages:
- When you’ve got a witch on your team, you feel all sorts of invincible. ‘Na Ambrosia explains in old fashioned, True Guaraní (the kind that isn’t mixed with Spanish words and is nearly impossible to understand) that we have different demons. The fact of the matter is, I’m from North America and she’s from South America and as logic would follow, we just have different demons (in a more metaphorical sense she really isn’t wrong). She has decided that I’m super-guapo (hard-working), and therefore, likes me enough to pray for me - and ward off the North American demons. I trust that it’s a tiring job, but I’m thankful that someone is looking out for me.
- I want to devote the #2 advantage entirely to the day that my wardrobe arrived by oxcart (long story) and the resulting visit by ‘Na Ambrosia. Every part of my moving and settling in process has been a community effort so after my wardrobe arrived by oxcart, ‘Na Ambrosia was gracious enough to come over one afternoon to bless my newest piece of furniture. After pointing out, more or less to my understanding, that we don’t know where this wardrobe has been and what it’s seen, she blessed my wardrobe, my things, and even the picture of my family on my nightstand (you’re welcome guys!)
- I spend a lot of my time looking for ways that I can help out in this community and make use of my sacrifice coming here, and to put it bluntly, the old, neighbor-witch is an easy target. This week, I was on my way home from visiting my host family when I spotted my witch leaving the little despensa/store with her groceries. Boom. Consider those groceries brought. The community loved it and it may have been the most impactful thing I’ve done in my 7+ months here.
Top 3 Disadvantages:
- Sunday guilt. Palm Sunday has always been my second favorite church service of the year. It’s second only to Christmas Eve (for obvious reasons) but comes in second because you get these weird palm things to hold and hit your siblings over the head with throughout the service. I was curious about Palm Sunday this year so I thought it’d be nice to walk ‘Na Ambrosia to attend the local only-option Catholic Church service. She absolutely loved it. If you can believe it, she spent more time telling everyone about the fact that we walked there together throughout the service than she did warding off demons – North or South American. The problem arose a week later, on Easter Sunday, when she tried guilting me into coming with her again. Palm Sunday was one thing, but Easter sounded longer (and without palm-weapons) and when it’s in Guaraní, your patience wears out even faster than when you were six years old sitting next to your parents. I ended up staying home to hand-wash my clothes and I’m just hoping I wasn’t cursed for it.
- Unfortunately, the warding of demons is a 24-hour job. Now, I’m sympathetic to the fact that one, single, ninety-some year-old woman is taking on all of the demons for two continents, I am. But at 2am I have to wonder if all parties - ‘Na Ambrosia, the roosters, the cows, the demons (both North and South), and myself – if we can just all take a quick break for a few hours and catch some sleep. In the end, I think we’d all be better equipped to hate each other the next day.
No such luck yet.
And a shameless plug for coffee:
PCV tel: 0986-287-303
Ybycui 4390 Paraguay