Sunday, September 20, 2009

Fassardi is a 4 ½ hour bus ride from the capital of Asuncion. Asuncion is a big, semi-cosmopolitan city with classy shopping malls and a wealthy, elite population. I was given a statistic during training that the HDI (Human Development Indez) of Asuncion is equal to Israel while the HDI of the rest of Paraguay is equal to Kenya. Asuncion doesn’t feel like the Paraguay I lived in my first months in country. In Asuncion I can find all the comforts of home…movie theaters, supermarkets, taxi cabs, outlet stores, you name it. But Asuncion is a world within itself, the country surrounding it doesn’t seem to fit. So boarding the bus at the Asuncion terminal and riding the 4 ½ hours to my site is like slowly floating into a different universe.
I love the bus rides. Its a time when I can truly relax and be just with me. No one tries to talk to me, no one bothers me. On the bus everyone seems to want to be left alone, to get the ride over with. Its fine with me. I spend everyday talking to strangers, trying to understand their language, sometimes painstakingly, and the bus ride is a welcome break. I love sitting and staring out the window watching the Paraguayan countryside go by and listening to my ipod. Its like I have a front row seat to Paraguay with my own soundtrack. Often I’m sad when the ride is over. I know I have to get off the bus and put my neck out their again. I know my “break” is over. Even though I just sat on a crowded bus for 4 ½ hours, I was entertained the whole time. The bus drives on a two lane highway carved through green forests, small towns and large crop fields and I have a magnificent view the whole trip. The bus drives through 4 different states to get to Fassardi. Women in short skirts board the bus to sell “chipa”, a traditional Paraguayan bread for $25 a piece. The bus makes two stops along the way in the two large cities. At the bus terminals I can buy chipa, sandwiches, ice cream, candy, bananas etc.. simply by opening my window and I will have a pod of vendors quickly gather below me. I claim what I want and the selected vendor will step forward and hand me my snack. I hand them their money, close my window, and go back to my daydreaming. I see the real Paraguay on this bus trip. I see how Paraguayans live.
The Paraguayan countryside is subtly beautiful. It doesn’t have the striking volcanoes of Ecuador that take your breath away or the bold blue and white beaches of Brazil (so I wait to find out). But the Paraguayan landscape stretches to infinity in subtle beauty. Paraguay is blue, green and red. Blue for the deep blue sky. Green for the dense, endless, forest. And red for the red dirt that covers the Paraguayan landscape, that stains your shoes, finds itself in your clothes, your fingernails, your ears, your hair, toes, and every other crevice of your body.
I know I have arrived home when the bus turns off the asphalted highway and onto the cobblestoned streets of Fassardi. (All the main roads in the center of Fassardi were just recently cobblestoned. Before, they were all dirt roads and now the buses are willing to pass through the town. It is extremely expensive to asphalt a road in Paraguay, therefore, many municipalities choose the highly inferior cobblestone which is much cheaper but protects the road when it rains.) The bus drives down the long bumpy road for 2 kilometers to the center of town.
How do I describe how it feels to be in Fassardi? Does it feel like a poor town? That is really hard for me to say. I’m really not sure. Maybe it would feel poor to someone coming here straight from a rich country. Maybe it would feel poor to someone who hasn’t experienced other parts of Paraguay. Fassardi does not feel poor to me. But that isn’t to say someone else wouldn’t think it is. For the most part, the people who live in the center of Fassardi live well and comfortably. They eat well and they enjoy small luxuries. Everyone has a cell phone, many have motorcycles, few have cars, very few have computers. Obviously, some families are better off than others. Fassardi does well because they have the wood factory, which means they have an additional source of income and they don’t only depend on their fields. Although the majority of Fassardians do depend on their sugar cane fields for income but sugar cane is a highly productive cash crop throughout my state, Guaira.
Most homes in Fassardi are modest, typical Paraguayan homes made from wood. Some are very shabby and appear to almost be in disrepair or abandoned but then people still appear to be living in them. A lot of homes do not have modern bathrooms, they have latrines. The elementary school just had a brand new bathroom built and it took four years of the principal’s blood, sweat, tears, and begging the state to get it built. Her efforts were well worth it because the latrines the children had to use were incredibly unsanitary. The bathroom cost $10,000. I took photos of the new and old bathrooms to make a before and after display for the school’s office…the difference is appalling. The high schools and the elementary schools in the rural areas still have latrines.
I spent one Saturday with the nurses from the health center driving/off-roading around the almost impassable dirt “roads” in the rural zones of Fassardi giving vaccinations. These areas are very poor and extremely far from the urban center. We were lucky we could get in and out in a day because we borrowed the mayor’s powerful 4 wheel drive vehicle, otherwise people’s modes of transportation are oxcart, walking, or motorcycle..
Fassardi is a town conflicted with the old and the new. Cowboys on horseback herd their cattle through the streets to the slaughterhouse and huge 18 wheeler semis loaded with the freshest sugar cane harvest share the same roads on their way to the factory. The semis are owned by the lucky, successful farmers. More common than the semis are the ox drawn carts loaded with sugar cane and the clippity-clop of the oxen hoofs on the cobblestone. Modernity is slowly reaching Fassardi and Fassardians are drinking it in. People are trading in their horses for motorcycles, the neighborly house call for cell phones., the speedy water heater for tea kettles. I see easy technology seeping into all parts of life in Paragauay, maybe some is for the better and maybe not. But Fassardi perpetually lives in a state of limbo between tradition and modernity and in the mean time the cobblestoned streets will be shared by hoof and wheel alike.

Two stories that mix a little bit of the old and the new:
Although the technology makes my life easier I especially love the tradition, I love walking by cowboys on horseback, oxcarts and horsecarts and women on their horses coming into town from the campo for supplies. The day before my birthday I was passing the time drinking terere with my friend Stefi when there was some commotion down the street. Her street is the thoroughfare to the slaughterhouse and all the cowboys walk their cattle right past her house on their way. Down the road two cowboys were having a hell of a time getting their cow to cooperate, she sat down right in the middle of the road and refused to get up. A crowd gathered to watch them struggle. Its like she knew she was being sent to her death. The cowboys were whipping her, trying everything they could, but she refused. They caused quite a scene and blocked the road. Cars had to squeeze around them to get by.
A week later, Mirian, my coworker at the muni, was flipping through pictures on my camera and came across the pictures of the stubborn cow in the road. She said that was the cow we ate for my birthday barbeque. I didn’t know what to say. But she sure was yummy.

Yesterday I went to the Fassardi Sport Club away game in Itape, about 1 ½ hours away. I drove with the mayor and a bunch of his cronies in what I like to call the mayor pimp mobile. It’s a shiny, purplish, super-slicked up pick-up truck and by far the fanciest car in town. If anyone is lucky enough to even own a car it is most likely a piece of crap from the 80s. Eduardi, the 27-year-old mayor, picked me up along with 7 of his friends and his 7-year-old son, that I never knew existed. We crammed into the pimp mobile and we zoomed off to Itape. First we stopped in Villarrica, the capital of Guaira. We all got out, sat on the curb and drank terere while the mayor drove off and left us there for 30 minutes. Super sketchy? He eventually came back, we crammed back into the truck and went to the game. The game was uneventful. We lost 2-0. Our team sucked. But on the way back as the sun was falling and Eduardi was dodging cows, dogs, and other animals in the road, one dog darted out in front of us. He put his foot on the break for a brief second and then realized he was either going to hit the dog or have to swerve. So, he pushed the accelerator to the floor and ran right over the dog. It felt like we only went over a speed bump in that monster vehicle. Eduardi laughed and said, “All I’m missing now is a cow!” Then everyone in the car had to recount their own proud stories of how many animals they have personally killed with a vehicle. Chiki, my contact, killed three cats in one night. To be honest, after living in Paraguay for 4 months I felt no emotion toward that dead dog in the road. There are too many damn dogs in Paraguay and they are pests, I think. They bark for all hours of the night, breed like rabbits, aren’t trained, shit everywhere, and have rabies. No one is going to miss one less dog in Paraguay, especially me. Also, I was especially proud of my mayor for his snap judgment skills. I think many Americans would have swerved that car and gone off the road to save the dog. However, with seven people in the car, two riding in the bed of the truck, and only one wearing a seatbelt (ehhhm, me), my mayor’s instinct to run over the dog and keep all the people in his car safe was by far the best decision. So, I felt I was riding with a driver with good instincts and I suddenly felt safer, and maybe (or oddly) had a little more confidence in him as mayor (Ill take confidence in politicians wherever I can find it!).

I have officially been in my site for one month, a milestone marker I think. So what is my next step? I still have no clue what kind of project I want to start. I really feel like I am still getting my feet wet. I still have a lot to learn, a lot to figure out. Sometimes I feel completely in over my head, like I am taking on way too much responsibility and I have no idea what I am supposed to do or how I am supposed to help these people. A month feels like no time at all. It feels more like a week has passed than a month. I really understand why Peace Corps needs us to be here for two years. Things take a really long time to happen. The days just pass me by. At times I feel this new, “tranquilo” lifestyle is addicting. I feel I can fit in by being lazy just like my neighbor Paraguayan and spend the day not doing any work too and feel like I am doing my job because I am “adapting” to the culture. But, I was pretty good at being lazy at home in the US too.
Its really nice to be my own boss. I really can do whatever the heck I want to with my days. I’m not going to lie, its really nice. The hard part is fitting in other ways. People are often interested in meeting me and I can communicate with people easily at first. But, connecting with people beyond that first encounter and making friendships, in another language, is proving a lot harder than I thought. I am supposed to establish a whole life for myself in this town and that means making meaningful friendships, but two languages and a cultural barrier stand in the way.
I am one month in my site but four months total in Paraguay which equals four months living with a Paraguayan family. Living with a family has been a great experience, mostly, but this past week I have really started to grow tired of it. For four months I have lived in someone else’s house, ate someone else’s food, lived by someone else’s schedule and used someone else’s stuff. And I have been completely content with this arrangement until just recently. I even thought when I first moved in with my family in Fassardi that my set up was so great that I might never want to leave but I have started to itch to live on my own again. Now that I am out of training, living in my own site and dictating what I do everyday I am itching to live on my own again. I would like not to have to eat lunch at noon on the dot everyday and not eat mandioca twice a day everyday. I have started to look for my house to rent and to fix up so it will be ready when I can move out. My mission the next few weeks will be to start making these arrangements. I think I will feel a lot more settled and at home once I have my own house.


Some Paraguayan Ridiculousness:

Spy Me

Today my host sister and I were on a walk when all of a sudden she changed to a very serious tone and said she was about to tell me something but “I didn’t here it from her”. She said people are very suspicious of me and there is a rumor going around that I am a spy. I have heard about this happening before and I can see maybe why people would be suspicious since I have come to live in their village all by myself and haven’t done anything yet that I claim I am here to do. So far I just go to the muni and sit around. But, come on, why on earth would the US government care what people in this silly little town are doing? NOTHING happens here. Its so ridiculous. But, I guess it goes to show no matter where you live or who you are you think what you do matters. My friend told me the next time someone tries to tell me I am a spy I should tell them I’m way too pretty to be a spy or pretend to take notes on what everyone is eating for lunch. Maybe I could even step it up a notch and walk around like Ace Ventura, sneak up on people from behind bushes, and pretend to tape record conversations with my cell phone.

Water Thief

I often get asked if water is expensive in the United States. At first I was really confused why Paraguayans always wondered about the cost of water. I tell them “no water is really cheap” and ask if water is expensive in Paraguay. They say “no water is very cheap here”. It turns out I am asked this question so often because Paraguayans are convinced Americans come to their country to steal their water. Paraguay has the largest aquifer in the world, one of their only declarable resources and something they are very proud of, so why wouldn’t Americans be here conspiring to steal their valuable water? It makes sense. We invade other countries to steal other valuable and expensive resources, like oil, so obviously water must be expensive in our country too. Logical right? But I live alone in this tiny little town in the middle of nowhere, so how am I going to steal the water? Am I going to steal away with it in my backpack? I don’t really get that part.

Here Kitty Kitty

All the cats in Paraguay have the same name. Michi. All dogs are given names but cats are all called “Michi”. At first I thought it was derived from the Guarani word for little ‘Michimi’ but everyone says it has nothing to do with this word, even though it sounds exactly the same. But everyone I ask still can’t explain what Michi means and why dogs have names and cats don’t. I have decided ‘Michi’ would be like calling every cat ‘Kitty’. Obviously Paraguayan culture values dogs more and that’s why they give them names. Cats serve a purpose; cats kill pests that invade the house they are not for companionship. They kick them when they meow, throw them scraps from the table, and mostly ignore them. Some Paraguayans still claim they are cat people over dog people but I never seem them pick them up, hug them, pet them etc… I believe Paraguayans would be appalled if they ever saw how my family and I treat my cat in the United States: we buy him special food, open doors for him when he demands it, let him sleep in our beds, clean his toilet for him, carry him from room to room because we want to be with him, pay for multiple surgeries when he gets in fights with neighborhood cats, ask about his whereabouts several times a day, the list could go on and on. My cat has a better life than many Paraguayans themselves. Its pretty pathetic.
My cat has a clown Halloween costume my mom’s friend bought for him a long time ago. Last year I fished it out of the junk drawer and dressed him up. I have a picture of my clown cat in the photo album I brought to Paraguay. When I showed my first host family this photo album and my host grandpa came across this picture he asked me if it was a photo of my stuffed animal. He couldn’t fathom anyone would dress up their cat as a clown or that a clown costume would ever exist for a cat. He had never looked through an American’s photo album before, maybe all Americans carried pictures with them of their favorite stuffed animals? Maybe all American girls have stuffed cat clowns….why not? It would be just as freaking insane as dressing up Michi as a clown.
My host family in Fassardi has a cat. They treat their cat like all Paraguayans treat cats and of course call it Michi. Being a cat lover, I cannot stand that they don’t even name him. So, I decided to name him myself and will call him by this name even if no one else will. My USA’s family tradition for cat naming requires all cats be named after someone famous. The reigning feline is Benjamin Franklin. So, I wanted to continue the tradition and give this cat a name just as profound. He is black and white. Or, half black. So I christened him Obama. Everyone knows about Obama and it is pronounced just like the Guarani word ‘Opama’. So maybe it will start to catch on soon.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Pictures


Sugar Cane Field in Fassardi

Two friends in Fassardi at the local soccer game

The Post Office

Out in the campo visiting another volunteer, sitting on the porch, watching the sunrise, drinking mate

Parading around the soccer field after Fassardi Sport Club won the Championship...They were excited!

The Paraguayan Countryside

Fassardi main street and view of the hills

I call this...Paraguayan Cowboy at Sunrise
video

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Guarani and Terere

Here are some topics that consume my day to day life in Paraguay that are starting to seem so normal to me I am starting to forget what my blog-reading American audience will find interesting and starting to run out of blog ideas (I am afraid Dale is going to find this blog somewhat or terribly boring)….maybe that’s what happens when you really LIVE in a country for awhile. If anyone is ever interested in a certain topic about Paraguay or Peace Corps from my perspective feel free to suggest a topic for my next blog!

Thinking about Language Learning

I have never considered myself a language person, I never just “picked up” the language with ease and I was never a top performer in my Spanish classes, I was always somewhere comfortably in the middle. I really enjoyed my Spanish classes mostly because I was fortunate enough to have really fabulous Spanish teachers in high school (which I really did not come to realize until the last year or two) and I worked hard in those classes because I was a good student. Also, I firmly believe that an excellent teacher can make any student enjoy any subject material, no matter what it is. For example, I even enjoyed physics class in high school because I had the most charismatic, out-of-this-world teacher. So, I don’t think I was predisposed to become a Spanish speaker (I wanted to take American Sign Language and my dad forbid it and forced me to take Spanish, he said I would thank him later…so Thank You Dad, I think you changed my life!). So I think my ability now to speak Spanish was created from a combination of my great teachers, my endless brown-nosing desire to please them, and a general growing enthusiasm for the language after I realized I had a minor aptitude for it…nowhere compared to my terrible math skills. Part nature part nurture. I know not all my classmates from San Dieguito felt the same way about our Spanish classes and maybe some just hate language or just don’t have the capacity to learn another language. But I know I was extremely lucky to have Spanish class at that institution. Who knows, I may not be in Paraguay today if it weren’t for them (So thank you Mrs. McClusky and Co!) I always said language class was the most beneficial thing anyone could ever get out of high school…look where it took me.
I have been thinking a lot lately about my Spanish education career as I try to undertake the daunting task of cramming another language into my brain. I have realized learning a language is all about learning style. I have always known I am not a “language person”, I could never listen to people speaking a foreign language and eventually learn to speak it myself. I know these people exist, they are some of my fellow trainees and Peace Corps Volunteers, some who came to Paraguay without a lick of Spanish or Guarani and now speak both without a hitch. Although I did not really learn to speak Spanish in my ten years of sitting in a classroom, those countless hours of drills, repetition activities, videos, homework, and textbook reading were the way I learned the foundation of the language I needed to be able to speak it. Of course, there is no other way to become fluent in a language than being completely immersed in it, this is obvious, but those ten years of classroom lessons are also invaluable to my understanding of the Spanish language. Now, I am trying to learn a new language in a totally different style. I had three months of formal language class but three months worth of lessons covers a pathetic amount of material when it comes to an entire language. So, I am almost starting from scratch and sitting and listening to foreign conversations everyday and wondering how people just “pick up” a language this way. I am a formal language learner, there is no other way around it. I need the classes everyday: the drills, the homework, the worksheets, the stupid dramas, and textbook passages. I never thought I would have a craving for a fill-in-the-blank worksheet in my life, but now I certainly do. Or maybe I am just a big nerd. These things do not exist outside of PC training. There are no textbooks or classes for Jopara, the mix of Spanish and Guarani Paraguayans speak. Paraguayan children learn pure Guarani in schools and so many of these textbooks exist. But considering a very small portion of the population actually speaks pure Guarani, these texts are really useless to me. I have also have never been very good at self induced study. So making myself study this language all on my own is not so appetizing when I don’t have to turn in an assignment for a grade or show a teacher what a shining student I am. I would rather take a nap.
People are constantly trying to teach me words in Guarani, but Guarani is different from Spanish in that the words don’t stick with me. Spanish is similar enough in its sound structure and lexicon to English that I can hear a word, ask its meaning, and easily hold on to it and use it in conversation the next day. This is not the case for Guarani. Guarani’s sound structure is so completely different than English and Spanish that words just sound like mumbo jumbo and they go in one ear and out the other. Sometimes I want to reply, “How can that possibly be a word? You are just spitting out a bunch of vowels and grunting like a caveman, that can’t possibly be a word!” Sometimes I think Guarani words are beautiful and sometimes they are nothing but maddening. I usually try to repeat the word out loud several times to try and hang on to it, but alas, I will have forgotten 5 minutes later. I have to hear and possibly see, and be retold the meaning of a Guarani word 10-15 times before I am really going to get it.
But people do learn this language. I have heard many of my fellow countrymen speak it with ease and I am nothing but green with envy when they do. Of course, I don’t have to learn Guarani. My brother Reuben, the secretary of the city council, says I speak better Spanish than some of the city council members (I like him!). I could get by just fine and live a content life here in Paraguay without speaking Guarani, and a lot of volunteers do just that. But, Guarani is the language of the people, it’s the language in their hearts and sometimes I think it pains them to have to only speak Spanish to me. Guarani is a very malleable language, its traditionally a spoken language and therefore doesn’t have a lot of structure or rules and Paraguayans twist and turn it to fit their moods. It’s the language they joke in, the language they cry in, the language they celebrate in. Guarani is their language of expression. Spanish is their language of textbooks, official documents, and politicians. Guarani is the people, Guarani is the culture. So if I really want to start to understand Paraguay and Paraguayans….its Guarani or go home
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Terere: “It’s like Crack to These People”
-Fellow PCV

How have I written 10 blogs and not written about terere? If a Paraguayan ever read this they might think it was a crime. If you have ever traveled to the Southern Cone than no doubt you are familiar with the infamous yerba mate South Americans are additcted to. It is ubiquitous in Paraguay, Argentina, Urugauay and apparently some parts of Brazil. But just like they speak their Spanish, every country drinks their yerba mate just a little differently. And just like their Spanish, it is an intimately important part of the culture, and you never leave home without it.
I am sure you can google terere or mate and get a perfectly good definition on wikipedia, which you should do if my explanation doesn’t satisfy you. I have tried to explain it to my dad over the phone several times and I still think he doesn’t get it. I don’t know if its because he is getting old or because my descriptive skills fail me but each time the conversation ends with, “you’ll just see when you get here.”
Yerba mate is a plant similar to plants grown for tea. In fact, I think of terere as a very different spin on tea. You can buy yerba mate tea from organic supermarkets in the states and drink it how we Americans/Europeans like to drink tea, with a tea bag immersed in a cup of hot water. Paraguayans do it differently. First, there are no cups and there are no tea bags. Terere is drunk from a gourd. The gourd can be made of wood or metal and they come in all shapes and sizes. Sometimes the gourd looks like half a ram’s horn. You fill the gourd almost to the top with the leafy yerba mate plant. Then you pour water into the yerba until it reaches the top and drink the water through a filtered straw. This is your basic mate all around the Southern Cone, but of course every country has its own spin. Mate means you pour steamy hot water into your gourd and Terere means you pour ice cold water into your gourd. That is the only difference. Argentineans only drink mate and Paraguayans drink both because of the drastic climate change. Since I arrived in the winter I didn’t understand what all this terere talk was about, I fully enjoyed the hot mate everyone was drinking. But now that the temperature has taken a sudden swing into the scalding summer with no warning all I want is that ice cold terere.
Paraguayans drink their terere and mate all day everyday everywhere they go. Ask anyone who has been to Paraguay, I am not exaggerating in the least. A girl from my training group said, “Its like crack to these people”. I think she summed up their addiction perfectly. Instead of purses, women walk around with their thermoses and guampas (gourd). They have specially designed purses, fashionable ones at that, to fit their thermos, guampa and cell phone. Thermoses and guampas come in all kinds of feminine colors and sizes and can be bought absolutely anywhere in Paraguay. Thermoses are a more common sale item at any bus stop/newsstand/roadside fruit stand etc… than the actual item being sold. Thermoses are ubiquitous throughout Paraguay. I strongly believe that if the thermos was never invented Paraguay probably would not be a country, just an empty wasteland. Men are equally addicted to their terere/mate and walk around with their specialized thermoses and guampas with their favorite soccer team logo blazed into the side of the macho leather carrying case. Sometimes I think Paraguayans are willing to spend more money on their thermoses then their houses or children’s education. Even city bus drivers have a secure location for their thermoses, with an easy press spout, so they can drink their terere and constantly refill with one hand on the wheel and one hand on their guampa….and one hand to open the door and one hand to collect the bus fare and count change???
Drinking terere is the national pastime of Paraguay. If nothing is going on you can always go over to your neighbor’s house and bet the family will want to drink terere with you morning, noon or night. My friend will say, “Come over tomorrow and we will drink terere” like there was an option to do anything else. But you don’t have to ever be invited to drink terere. You can just sit down with a group of Paraguayans and you can guarantee a gourd will eventually end up in your hands. Terere is a social experience and there are several unwritten rules, norms and taboos if you will, every visitor to Paraguay must know about terere drinking. In a group of terere drinkers, there is one gourd, one thermos and one server. The server will fill the guampa and hand it to the person next to them. When they have sucked all the water out of it they will hand it back to the server who refills it and hands it to the next person, and around and around it goes, for hours upon hours it can last. After an hour of drinking terere I get very full and feel I have had enough. I can take a brake and then start up again with another group later, who will be sure to offer it to me, but Paraguayans never seem to need a break. If you want to stop drinking just tell your server, “Gracias” and they know you are done and will skip you the next time the gourd comes your way. The fact that “Gracias” in Paraguay actually means “No Gracias” is a Paraguayan cultural quirk that we Americans have a hard time grappling with because there is no other clear way to say thank you, because Paraguayans don’t expressly say thank you for everything how we do. I have now become overly aware of how often in one day I feel the need to say thank you, I never realized this was a cultural attribute, I just thought I was being polite. I now have to stop myself from saying thank you all the time, it makes me look weird and makes them feel awkward because they don’t really have a way to say your welcome…..but that was a tanget….back to terere.
So everyone in the group shares the same gourd and the same straw. No care in the world for germs, it’s a germ free for all! Yeah, pretty much. And if the idea of sucking on a straw with a group of strangers freaks you out then you don’t have to drink the terere. Paraguayans have come up with a bunch of fabulous passive phrases to get out of terere drinking in order not to offend anyone such as, “I just drank some milk” or “I just had a mandarin” because combining any of these items in your stomach would certainly lead to death. But I have never considered myself a germ-aphobe and I thoroughly enjoy the terere/mate and the whole terere drinking cultural/social experience and so I think it is a risk worth taking. Some volunteers totally opt out of drinking terere the whole time they are here because of the germ sharing phobia but I would equate this on the same level as not trying to learn Guarani. Just a bunch of leaves in a gourd may not seem like a lot but Paraguay is a poor country and they don’t have a lot to offer, but they can offer you their terere and they are sure damn proud of it. Guarani and Terere ARE Paraguay. So….what is today’s lesson? Drink your terere and speak your Guarani (as pitiful as it may be) and love your fellow Paraguayan.