Mi familia y mi vida!
My family is incredible, I love them so much already and I feel like I have known them for a greater portion of my life, when really it has only been a month in a half. I live with my Mama, Catalina, who has six children (ages 25-32) and five grandchildren (ages 3-14). I live with my Mom, my sister Belen (29) and her son Fernandito (3), my other sister Rosa (31) and her daughter Ota (7), and my brother, Rafael (31). In the house behind ours are my sister Maria (27), her husband Hugo and her daughter Vito (9). Behind Maria’s house is my brother Leaders (25) house, he lives with his girlfriend Karina (22), I don’t see them much as they are very busy with school and work. A five-minute walk down the road is my other sister’s house Sole who lives with her husband and her two sons Isaias (14) and Fernando (8). Isaias has become one my closest Paraguayan friends here, he has helped me so much with the language and is always open to playing futbol, exploring the community and explaining things for an endless amount of times without getting frustrated.
I feel so incredibly lucky to have an amazing supportive family here. There is always someone around who can hangout and drink terere. With a family of 12 people there’s never a dull moment. Living with such a large family has been a great experience, one that is much different than what I am accustomed to in the states. Growing up as an only child, my time spent with a large group of family happened only at major holidays. So other than that my time was spent with my parents or my close friends who have become family. These past experiences makes it sometimes overwhelming when I have multiple people trying to talk to me at once, but I’ve learned that in these moments taking a deep breath and talking to one person at a time makes me feel less overwhelmed.
As a young girl, I spent many years telling my Mom how I want to live on a farm with many animals; she did the best to accommodate to that dream with Chickens, Dogs, Cats, and Guinea Pigs for a decent portion of my childhood. That dream has stuck with me throughout the years and now I finally have something similar to that. At our house we have mas o menos 30 chickens that run around the yard and at times in the kitchen, we have two cows, one in which I have learned to milk, we have a Goat and her baby, which I try to force into cuddling as much as possible, we have three ducks and 20 eggs waiting to be hatched, three dogs, one cat and four adult pigs (the 5th one I watched get killed for my sisters work party) and five piglets. So as you may imagine I am quite happy in this house full of animals and I am always going out to the back with my sobrinos to check out and share my love for animals.
Moving on to language, I am astonished at how much I have learned in the past six weeks, I came in barely knowing anything in Castellano and now I am holding conversations for a long period of time that don’t just consist of me being hungry, tired or needing to shower. I owe a lot of this development to my family who has helped me significantly, especially Isaias and Rafael they have been lifesavers. Next I would have to thank the challenging, exhausting but very successful language program the Peace Corps has set up for us. I tested into the lowest language level (I’d like to think I knew more when I first got here but let’s be honest—I knew barely anything), so I spent the first two weeks learning Spanish with three other people in my community. These three people have become family to me and for this reason, along with many others, I am so proud to see how far the four of us have come in our languages both with Castellano and our newest language Guarani.
“What is Guarani?” you may ask. Well to some of you who asked this question before I left I said “ It’s a variation of Spanish, so it should come easy”. I’d like to think someone in the universe was rolling on the floor laughing when I said that because let me tell you, Guarani is no where near similar to Castellano. Yes sometimes we use similar verbs as Spanish, yes most times we use jopora which is a mixture of the two languages, but most importantly, yes all the times I am learning my third language in my second language—this has to be one of the hardest things yet.
Guarani is filled with nasal words, has several new letters in the alphabet (ex. Mb), and is rarely spoken as pure Guarani, as most people speak in a jopora where Spanish words are incorporated in to sentences. Although I don’t know my future site yet I predict that learning Guarani as much as I can now is essential to my service because I asked to be in a more campo site. With a campo site, comes a rural community that is more isolated from the cities, people who spend most of their time working at home or in a field can generally have more access to nature areas and farm animals, and almost 90% of the time, the people speak only Guarani. So with this knowledge, I am working on integrating Guarani. But with the difficulty that comes with this language, the interesting thing that I wasn’t prepared for is that often the change in the gut noise in your throat, forgetting a letter or nasal sound can change a word from food to penis, it’s hot to I’m sexually excited, and do you want to eat or drink to lets have sex—so as you could imagine I’m trying my best to watch what I say.
Internet is not as available as I would have hoped to keep this more active, so this is my late or early apology to those who haven’t heard from me as much as I would have liked. On September 20, I find out my future site, which is where I will be living for the next two years. On Monday December 9 I leave for my future site, my access to Internet may change for the better or worse, so let us hope for the best. Until next time, suerte!