Thursday, October 14, 2010

El Mejor Día Paraguayo

Today was one of the best Paraguayan days that I have had in site. I cannot say that it was special in any grand fashion, but it was productive, fun, innovative, and new all in one: BALANCED.

I awoke after a rather short night's sleep at 6:30am to no electricity or running water. It was raining (more a slow drizzle), so school would likely be cancelled in the morning. Nonetheless, I was up and getting ready for a working breakfast with my co-worker on our "Construye tus Sueños" course at 7:30am. We each had one small bread roll with dulce de mora (kinda like a blackberry jam) and cocido (mate that's been burned with sugar and then boiled). Not sure why, but I was extremely full afterward! Then, we sat down to finish our lesson plan for our first day of class. I'm so excited to get started- we've got some great activities, ideas, etc. we're going to incorporate in the regular lesson plan as well as visits from local business owners, credit/loan institutions, and the like. From there we headed around town to work on promotions with signs to hang in the local hot spots, cooperative, bank, internet cafes, copy shops, and colegios.

By noon, it was time to tackle my next task- introducing comida saludable (healthy eating) to my host family as my host sister has recently been diagnosed with Gastritis and has to learn to eat foods without crazy amounts of fat/oil/acidity. So, my sister and I met up for our healthy shopping trip to buy lentils, veggies, and skim milk/yogurt (heaven forbid!). We made it home just in time for rice soup and the power to come back on.

After a short nap, required for it to be a good Paraguayan day, I woke fully rested to start my second shift.

My afternoon task was to prepare a lentil soup with my host mom without using oil. I know it doesn't sound that hard, but trust me- that is NOT normal here. After a big discussion about which parts of broccoli we can eat (all of it, but that's not so clear when one's never used it before) and how to prepare lentils, we were finally cooking. Meanwhile, I prepared all the materials for a Taller de Administración Familiar (family finance workshop) with the local cooperative. Again, thrilled to get to facilitate some cool activities this month on making wise spending choices and needs vs. wants. I have a good friend from Pakistan that (jokingly... I think), suggested that I have the whole class fast for a day and then offer them bread or a new cell phone and see which one they'd choose- I've opted for a slightly less profound but hopefully fun set of games and personal budgeting exercises. :-P Also during my afternoon marathon, I received a visit from a fellow American in site that would like to collaborate on a crash-course in English at the local university. It's lookin' like I've got another project and another contact organization in the works.

While the soup was cooking, I headed out for my final activity of the day around 7pm- one of my neighborhood meetings with the Constructores de la Sociedad. Set up in the neighborhood chapel, we completed a lluvia de ideas (brainstorm) and an excel desenchufada (excel unplugged) to pick and plan our first neighborhood level, capacity building, small project. In this particular barrio, they have decided that they want to get the word out about our group and start to build support for various infrastructure projects such as empedrada, public lighting, neighborhood clean-up, etc. As such, the task for the week is to invite as many neighbors as possible to a barrio kick-off meeting with motivational speaker (Pa'i), ice breakers, and appetizers. Tasks have been assigned, decorations and activities planned. Ore guapa!

By 9pm, I was headed home on my fancy new bicycle (which has gone over swimmingly with the locals- all my co-workers get a real laugh out of my chuchi helmet and headlight). It cuts my travel time around site in half; great exercise too! Upon arrival our lentil soup was done, and to my delight the family was loving it. Even the grandkids were going in for seconds. My host sister suggested we start eating this stuff for the primary meal of the day (lunch). What an accomplishment- lentils and broccoli introduced and devoured with pleasure in one fell swoop. A cold shower to finish off the day just in time for round two of the rainstorm and an evening power/water outage.

I couldn't ask for a better day. Goodnight Paraguay.

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