Wednesday, November 9, 2011

There's Frost on the Pumpkins!

Everyday before I go to work I am either walking or sitting at my bus stop.  Also everyday before I go to work I see or chat with one of my fellow pedestrians.  Her name is Marilyn, she is probably in her 60's, and she is perhaps the sweetest person you've ever met.  The title of this post is something that she told me on a particularly chilly day at the bus stop, and although I've never heard this expression before, I will now begin to use it.

The reason I write about my friend is not because she has a clever way with words, but that she has a way of purposeful sweetness.  She waves and smiles and literally every motor vehicle that passes by, regardless of which way it is going, and regardless of knowing whether or the passengers can see her.  In fact she even waves at busses, perhaps mostly at the driver, but nonetheless.  Additionally, her daily stroll is for more than her constitution, she stops at every house on her route that has a newspaper at the curb and walks it up to their doorway.  This is an all more important gesture during the damp and dark days of Northwest winter. All with a joy-exuding smile on her face. 

All this to say my friend Marilyn is super.

The world should be so super.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The future past.

I have always had the habit of imagining a place at different stages.  My biggest imaginings are from places where people are.  Slowly deconstructing the things we've brought...interstates...sidewalks...lights....trash them away one by one.  Always idealizing what this virginal world I was creating would be peaceful, quite, lonely, beautiful, natural...correct.

But I think I am going to try and stop this.

Why?  Because it makes me bitter and bitterness is not the staircase that change climbs. If the world is going to transform into something closer to those ideals...admittedly my ideals and no one else's...then it has to hop on the hope-wagon.  Maybe the first step to having less roads is an innovation in trasnport...or city planning...or something yet unheard.  Maybe if we start sharing buildings more efficiently we can have fewer...what if we took some down.  Other countries fit way more people in smaller spaces.  Not saying we should, just that we could.  Would people walk to work if they could...or perhaps if they just thought the could? More passion is beginning to grow in my heart for changes to the positive, healthy, and new.

 Growing backwards is my new m.o.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Riding the Bus!

Reasons I love to ride the bus:
  1. It is like being at the fair...I give them money I get to ride!
  2. Saying hello to the bus driver.
  3. Watching people sleep. Specifically their faces.
  4. Interesting accessories - most recent...alligator skin man purse
  5. Watching people board the bus - ecpecially if they have to jog  - even more so if they are jogging with a backpack!
  6. Smiling. People don't have happy faces on when they are on a bus. It is as if they all agreed to be emotionless as not to interact to heavily with anyone else.  I always try to maintain a minimum of a slight grin.
  7. The Robotic voiceover telling you where to get on and off.
  8. Sitting in close proximity to strangers.
  9. Awkward eye contact.
  10. Being relatively unconfident about when to get off...or on sometimes.
  11. Saving the earth!
That is all. It is just a good thing.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

¡Todo Apodo!

Mbaeteikopio?  aka. What it is?

that isn´t a literal translation btw.

Well, i have kind of been absent from blogland for a little while now, but i´ve made it back.  I thought that i would share with everyone the joy of nicknames in paraguay. 

EVERYONE, and their mom, really though, has a nickname it py.  it is pretty fun, but it makes it really hard sometimes to figure out who you are talking about.  and sometimes when you meet someone they tell you their real name, but that is probably the only time you will ever here that name b-c everyone in the whole world calls them another name.

During my time here in paraguay i have manage to pick up a few apodos myself, which we will now review.
  1.  Yankee - i know it, you know it.  i am not a yankee!  but my neigbors don´t know it haha. This nickname was coinged by a 2 year old that i know, whose dad is also Carlos.  He didn´t want to call this big american man the same name as his dad, so he picked out yankee...haha.  When i was living with them a common sentence from the 2 year old was "Epu´a Epu´a Yankee!  Oíma la comida!" which is to say, Get up Get up Yankee!  The food is ready!  it was really cute.
  2. Carlos Paraguayo - This is perhaps the more endearing nickname i have picked up.  It was arrived at after sitting in a wine circle (circles are how you drink things here, terere, beer, wine, water, mate, anything liquid) most of the other sitters in this circle had already had a little too much to drink, haha, but after i spoke a good amount of guarani and knew the verses to one of the polkas (Che paraguay) they were like you are paraguayo, CARLOS PARAGUAYO! haha...i like this one.
  3. Carlos Jety - This means Charles Sweet Potato.  haha...i´ve actually only heard this one once, but after me and some peeps had dug up like 20 lines of sweet potatoes, they were like you are pretty good at that, you are Carlos Jety.  haha.  
Amidst all of this i get the typicaly, Americano, Chawz (what it sounds like when spanish speaking people say Charles) or just stares. haha. 

Everything is pretty tranquilopa here though.  still trying to figure out how exactly i fit into my community and what sort of work we are going to get going for my time there, but we´ll see. 

i miss and love you all so much!

Charles/Yankee/Carlos Paraguayo/Jety D. Helms

Friday, January 22, 2010

A little bit of chicken fried... wait a second...that ain´t chicken.

Throw own your blue jeans and ball cap and grab your cane pole...we´re going fishin!

ok...that isn´t exactly what my host father sait to me the other evening, but it is as close as i can get in translation...haha.  I have a fish story to share...well, i guess that isn´t technically accurate.

One of the more populare past times in my community is heading out to a small fishing hole and catching an animal, which in guarani, is call mbusu.  In english, well, the closest i can get is eel.  I don´t know the species, but it is indeed a freshwater eel.  at any rate, jaha mbusu hapé!

I feel as if this activity would be a hit in the rural parts of north carolina, i mean, it is really even better than regular fishing. What you do is take the hoe you brought a long with you, hack at some aquatic vegetation until you´ve cleareda out a hole maybe about 2 feet in width, the depth of the water being a little more shallow than that.  Then you bait your hook with chicken meat, beat the water vigorously with your pole, and wait.  and wait. and wait.  I was never much for fishing when i was a kid, but this is really growing on me.  because next comes the rush.  you feel the bite, you yank up, and there it is...a black eel hanging off your chicken meat!!!  You try and get if away from the water asap, bc the mbsusu are valeterei, super smart, and will let you.   mine always fell off, but not to worry.  next you grab up your haul and beat it to death, you can use a stick, or just the ground....ha!  then you grab another stick and feed it through the little things mouth until it erupts through the back of its skull.  and there you have it my friends...dinner is almost ready!

Well...i didn´t know if i knew how to eat eel or not, but i actually took down a whole plate of it...we made a soup with onions, peppers, garlic, and oregano...heterei! (yummy!)

As i was sitting with my cane pole, watching the sun go down, being bit by mosquitos, i could have sworn i was in north i needed was a pack a nabs, a can of vienna sausages, and a mountain dew...aaaah. Well...then i saw some parrots, remembered the heard of cows behind me, and realized those trees weren´t pines, they were palms...haha.


Thursday, January 14, 2010

We Were Kings


So here in paraguay there is another holiday celebration after the official christmas and new years that we are used to in the united states.  It is called the day of the kings, which i am pretty sure is supposed to be when the three wise men came to visit baby Jesus.  Here it is celebrated by people putting shoes outside their windows and the kings bring by gifts for them!  pretty fun, but this year, i had a fun adventure with my host father.  I am working as a crop extensionist, and those crops sure do stretch; they usually go from seed, to field, to a home to be processed and cleaned, and then finally to market!  I was lucky enough to go to the market in a city near my site where members of my community sell their produce.

The product - Melón - think cantaloupe...ish. sweeter. better. maybe more honeydew....anyhow.

The goal - bring in the dough at market.

The ride - pick up truck

The time - 1 AM.

Intensity.  So the day before we loaded a pick up truck full up of the melóns and it was sent to wait at the drivers house.  We woke up at 1 in the morning to walk to the ruta, hop in the truck and head off to the market.  The city was deserted...not one to be seen, we were the first to arrive.  We unpacked each small, but weighty crate of fruit and placed it on the side of the road.  Then i napped for an hour on one of the vending tables that later that day was to be occupied by a veggie vendress. The the city started waking up, people opening store fronts, bringing in other was a really cool experience. Fruits of all kinds and more veggies than you could imagine. My host dad actually sells produce to other vendors, so my community is like the primary source of the goods.  It is a really cool system. In the meantime i had some super fresh chipa...the best snack in the universe, and a breakfast of some mystery meat, rolled in pigskin...this dish is really growing on me.  We were done selling by 6 in the morning, having brought in a pretty good haul.  We bought some stuff to take back home to family.  It felt very gratifying, and i can only imagine taking a field from seed to market. Small scale agricutural production is just the best. It felt like we were kings...well, of the market at least.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Sometimes i just sit.

The life of a peace corps volunteer is a an up and down, left and right, ingles y espanol, (ha guarani, ikatu) topsy turvy, vague...lets not go as far as clear...crazy experience.  I do a lot of things now that i didn´t used to do, some because of culture, some because there isn´t anything better to do.  heres a list!

  • i wipe my face off with the tablecloth...i´m a fan
  • i can put as many tablespoons of salt and or sugar on any food i want...i´m a fan
  • watching chickens run around is often a main source of entertainment...i´m becoming a fan
  • i have to dodge the biting parrot at my new house...i´m not a fan
  • need a lime? go pick it!...i´m a fan
  • need a mango? go pick it! it is so great....i´m a fan
  • i constantly shew away animals...cows, pigs, chickens, dogs, cats...etc...not a fan
  • i send text messages...i´m becoming a fan
  • i either walk or take the bus...aka no more gunther...i´m a fan...but i miss gunther
  • i still call shorts, shorts...and mountain bikes mountain all three is funny...if you could here it with the accent you´d be a fan
  • i put toilet paper in a trash can...i still think it is gross. 
  • my office are the homes and fields of my community...i´m a fan.
and sometimes...i just sit.