(The contents of this website are mine personally and do not reflect any position of the U.S. government or the Peace Corps.)

I woke up one morning, Thursday, the 30th of May, 2013, to be exact, and I was in Asunción, Paraguay. 

[Lights intensify like dawn]

And while I’m not trying to insinuate some surprise international abduction, I am trying to convey the, “I haven’t absorbed this” feeling you get when the velocity of life is whirling too fast too land … despite, however, the fact that we safely did. The “we,” of whom I referred are the 23 other G-42 members of the Peace Corps’ Community Economic Development sector. Post-touchdown, we were herded past customs (that’s right, ‘past’), loaded onto a bus, and taken direct to the Peace Corps Training Center in Guaramabré, just over an hour south of the capital city where our overnight coach landed. We were greeted with a song, split up into two groups, 12 in each of the neighboring communities, and assigned host families for our three-months of pre-service training.

I live with Justina Delgadillo, aka Tuti in Itá. She grew up during the Strossener dictatorship, which is apparent in her rather unambitious perspectives, is young to have three grown daughters and five grandkids, by my standards, and is divorced; a taboo according to local social standards. But, as she said to me in her thick Guaraní cropped Spanish accent, “A cada uno lo suyo” … which translates to, “To each their own.” And fortunately, as her accommodating actions have shown, she means it and kindly adjusts for my cultural quirks.

For instance, despite the fact that I occasionally eat eggs and white meats, after explaining my lactose/bread/red-meat/fried-food-free diet,  I am considered a vegetarian; and as a result, a ‘light’ piece of her “what the &%$@ am I supposed to cook this girl!?” neighborhood gossip. However, aside from not knowing how to cook veggies outside of a vat of boiling animal lard, Tuti has indeed accommodated me by taking the initiative to get vegetable bouillon cubes and learning how to cut bite-size pieces for a salad.

[Peace Corps provided cook book I found on the table one day after training]

Other Corps cohorts who didn’t have the language skills or were too worried about stepping on the traditional gender role to address diet desires, have sat down for lunch with their brownbag packed with a pound of beef and a hefty side-o-starch before getting a repeat for dinner; China Study-schmina-study! Paraguay’s animal protein intake has got to scoot it right-on-up the list of first-world cancers.

[The plates are cleared from dinner table and the lights fade]

(Carnicero en el Mercado Central, Itá)