Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Email to the Family

this blog originally started as an email to my family but ended up being so long I decided to make it my next blog post, something I havent done in awhile.....

Hey fam,

Dad, Im sorry we got cut off earlier and didnt get to get talk more. Not including today, I have been pretty busy. I have been sleeping a lot better the past few weeks except the last three nights and especially last night I slept terribly. I think its because I was thinking about Jessi. So today I am utterly exhausted after three days of almost no sleep. I have stayed home and rested all day so now I am a little bored but still not feeling great.

The latest animals to invade my house are baby possums. They are the worst yet. Far worse then rats. They come into the kitchen via the roof and the rain gutter every night. Its been going on for a week now. I have tried rat poison, leaving the kitchen lights on, even Hobbes hasnt been successful. He almost had one, and was chasing it around the house for awhile and then it ran under my cabinet where Hobbes couldnt reach it. I stuck the mop handle under there to try and get it out and the possum ended up hiding in a cereal box that had been left under there, so I took the box and threw it out into the yard. Hobbes was left very bewildered and upset to have lost his prey but I was just happy to get it out of my house. But, they still keep coming back .
Baby possums are way worse than rats, they are better climbers, way sneakier and so disgusting. eww
My neighbors say possums have been a problem always in this house.

The optometrists came back on Monday. Their third time this year! They are a Paraguayan foundation called Fundacion Vision that offers cheap eye care services and surgery to the poor. I had orginially contracted them to come out to Fassardi for the day to do free eye exams back in March and the foundation was so thrilled with the response they keep asking me to come back. They come in a van from their clinic two hours away, with four staff members, one doctor, equipment, glasses and medicine for sale. Its a whole travelling eye clinic.
However, this time we had them operate out of the muni, that was not my choice. The only cost for them to come out to a community and offer their services is their gas and their lunch, which the muni must pays for. The last two times we did it at the health center, an obvious location I think. After two visits, the nurses at the health center know what to do when they come and are well aware to handle the situation so I have less of a role, which is the very idea of a sustainable project in Peace Corps.
So after I had made all my posters and my announcement on the radio to advertise the optometrists arrival, the secretary calls and says they want to have it at the muni because they think one of the nurses controls everything too much and nobody likes her blah blah blah... Its such bullshit. The truth is the mayoral elections are in less than a month and the mayor wants to take credit for bringing this service to the community. Everything is political in Paraguay. Even though he has nothing to do with the Optometrists, if they hold it at the muni, every one will assume the current mayor was responsible. It would have made much more sense to keep the consult at the health center where things were running like well oiled machine by now. But, the mayor is paying for the costs, so I couldnt say anything.
But, all in all the day went well. It was kind of nice, on my part, to have it at the muni because the workers took care of a lot of things I normally would have had to do and the nurses at the health center never had time to help me with. So I didnt do much but sit around and watch all day. My job was to make sure they got reimbursed for their gas money, that someone was going to cook them lunch, and answer any questions. They saw 60 patients and ended at 3 in the afternoon. Besides having to spend the day around the bitchy Brazilian lady that works there, it was all good.
The best news is that because Thursday is World Vision Day, the Foundation said anyone they found during their consultations with a cataracts they would pick up from Fassardi on Wednesday and drive to their clinic in oviedo, two hours away, operate for free, and drive them back home the next day. All for free! Nobody would have to spend a cent. This is an amazing offer to people who live in my town and cant even afford the bus fare to go to the clinic for consults, let alone the surgery. 6 or 7 people from Fassardi were given the offer. And I just got the call from the driver that he picked them all up and they are on the way to the clinic now! Very exciting news!

I have also started some work on the library project. The idea is to turn the office of the highschool, which is hardly used, into the a library which will be accessible to all students in Fassardi. There are two elementary schools and another high school all in walking distance. The library will be a full functioning multi-media center, with computer access, books, and educational materials for students. I hope it could be used a community meeting place and learning center.
I formed a commission at the high school with 5 students (all girls) who were elected by their classmates to participate. I am not sure if any of them really want to be on the committee, or if they just accepted the nominations in lieu of saying no. Anyway, we have meetings on Thursday afternoons before class and have decided to try and have a fundraising event once a month. I am going to apply for a Peace Corps grant for most of the money but the community must contribute 25% either in cash or in-kind/labor donations. We originally planned to do a movie day for kids before I came home but we couldnt find a projector to borrow so it was postponed. However, i eventually found someone who was willing to lend me a projector, the Rotary Club president in Villarrica. Adam has done a lot of work with him the last year for his own library project. Adam introduced me to him last week and he said I could borrow the projector whenever I needed it. So, we are planning now to do the movie day next weekend on Saturday. We are charging 1 mil, about 25 cents, for tickets, and we have donations for a cantina from stores around town. I bought Toy Story and High School Musical to show. We also might extend it into the evening and show films for adults to try and raise more money.
In the mean time we thought we could make jewelry to sell. I bought some materials in Villarrica and Sunday Nati, the president of the commission Raquel (who has actually been really wonderful and helpful), and Adam came over to make bracelets. The girls took them to school on Monday to sell but only sold a few, apparently nobody liked them! Oh well.
My landlords and crew were visiting next door so they were in and out of my house all afternoon, so I served the easter candy mom sent me. One girl described the marshmelllow peeps as "sweet cotton".

Hopefully if the movie day is successful it could be a monthly occurrence. I am also thinking about doing a ' fun with reading' summer camp as a fundraiser in December. The kids loved my last camp so I know they will come to the next one. Also, it will be a good thing to keep me occupied when Adam leaves.

My new English classes are going well. I am teaching on Thursday nights from 5 to 8 at the high school. I now have 11 students in my basic class and 4 in my advanced class. Fassardi's doctor is in my advanced class, he is the only adult but I really enjoy having him. He brings a level of maturity to the class that it was lacking before. He also knows a lot of English and asks intelligent questions which makes teaching English much more enjoyable for me. The teenage girls however are not happy with the class. They think the doctor is a know-it-all and want me to kick him out. But, I know they dont like being in class with thier friend's father and dont feel free to goof around like the last class. I told them I wasnt happy with the last class when we learned nothing and they would leave in the middle of class to hang out with their boyfriends and got so distracted in lessons because of their cell phones. So, I am very happy with how these classes are shaping up.

I am also continuing to teach my contact's kids on Tuesday afternoons. The last few weeks we have had a few other kids join in, which has made the lessons a lot more fun. My lessons are very simple and Im not sure how much English the kids are retaining but I really enjoy being around them and I know they enjoy the experience too, i also know they love drawing with my fancy American markers that I always bring. The last two weeks class has ended in a dance party. Little Jose gets out his dad's cell phone and plays reggaeton music and all the kids bust a move. Its adorable. This week we didnt have the cell phone so all the kids sang the words to Shakira's 'Waka Waka" (The world cup song) while Amanda did the dance.

This weekend Adam and I are going on a little get away. We have been talking about going on a mini-vacation somewhere in Paraguay forever and this weekend we are finally doing it. We are going to this hotel/resort near Caacupe that is offering a special for couples for two nights. It looks like pure luxury to me! They have a pool, a sauna, nice rooms, and hopefully good food. I am very excited! As of Friday I will have been in site for 3 weeks in a row, I only spent 4 hours last Friday out of site in Villarrica, that is a record for me.

The last week of October is Nati's quincinera, which will be a big event I think, held on the lawn between our houses, weather permitting. Then Halloween weekend Adam and I are going to La Colmena where he plans to run in a 10K. We have been there once before in January, it is known for the Japanese colony and the beautiful, hidden waterfall called Salto Cristal.

Adam and I are going to spend the last two weeks of November together, its our time just the two of us before he leaves Paraguay. Then, he is going on a three week motorcycle trip with his friend leaving from Buenos Aires and driving around Argentina. He is going to fly back to states a few days before Christmas.
We think we might go on another mini trip during those last two weeks. As of now, we have no idea where, I guess it all depends on my work schedule.
Plans for Korea are still up in the air. He has interviewed with two different English teaching companies and he is confident he will be hired by at least one of them. He could leave for Korea anytime between mid February to April. We arent happy about doing long distance and we know its going to be hard but we are up for the challenge, and what is 8 short months compared to a lifetime?

So that has been my life the past 3 weeks in Fassardi since I came back from the states. I have been thinking a lot about my family in California and Mexico, especially about my grandpa and my sister. Its hard to be so far away right now.

I love you all.


Optometrists give free eye exams in Fassardi

The kids show off their drawings after English class

Hobbes isnt so worried about the possums right now

Showing off my HIV/AIDS lecture poster

The current high school library

craft making at my house

First taste of a peep

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