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Date:2008-11-06 14:08
Subject:The last two years...
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I would love to get a bunch of responses on this. Obviously the answers are subjective. To you...

1. What are the three most important events of the last two years on a local level? (In your state, town, community, etc.):


2. What are the three most important events of the last two years on a global scale? (In your country, continent, solar system, etc.):

Thanks for helping fill me in on what's been going on while I've been unplugged!

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Date:2008-10-17 13:58
Subject:Not long now...
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...before I'm back in the States! I have only one month left in Paraguay and will be back in the States before Thanksgiving. I am wrapping things up here, finishing an English class and saying goodbyes. It is so crazy to think about leaving but I am very excited to be going back soon, ready to start something else. I will be visiting my sister in Chicago for a month first, and then to the PNW for a while, and looking for a job pretty much asap. I would appreciate any leads on jobs, short- or long-term. I am looking forward to getting out and visiting people and getting to know my country again after so long away.

I have voted (yay absentee ballots!). I hope all of you have/will too.

Some things I am looking forward to about being back in the States:
1. cheddar cheese
2. catching up on books and movies I have missed
3. central heating
4. Thai food
5. having a fridge
6. frogless bathrooms (they are cute but they poo all over)

Things I will miss about Paraguay that I will be hard-put to find in the States:
1. adios-ing people
2. the birds
3. my baby cow frog
4. sharing mate and terere
5. fresh chipa, sopa paraguaya, and chipa guasu
6. guarani

My general plans for getting back (other than looking for work) are writing and exploring more of the States.

I know it's not something everyone will be interested in, but I am looking forward to sharing my experiences here with you and catching up on what y'all have been up to. Until then, suerte!

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Date:2008-04-12 10:20
Subject:A wee update
Security:Public

A typical Monday for me right now:

5am get up, put the water on for mate (drinking hot yerba mate), sit on my porch and watch the sun rise (up at 545 these days) while i drink my delicious mate. I have been putting burrito and guayaba leaf in as my yuyos these days (burrito is good for the stomach, guayaba for the throat)

6am go on a 30 minute run, come back, water the garden and potted plants, eat breakfast, get ready for class

8am walk 10 minutes down the road to the little room i teach one of my english classes in, teach 5 kids aged 11-13 for an hour

930am change into my manky dirty smelly chacra (field) work clothes and head out with my hoe to try to finish hoeing my demo plot so i can plant for the winter (going to plant lima beans, peas, lentils, and corn)

11am go back home, tired, amazingly sweaty, cold shower, change, make lunch of veggie soup and bread, lie on my bed but don't sleep a siesta because if i do i wake up feeling like i'm suffocating because it's so hot and humid (yes, it's fall and the weather is in theory getting colder, but that really means that for a few days it's super super hot and humid as it tries to rain, it finally rains and everything cools off and we have one or two cold days and cold nights and then it repeats all over again), read, knit, listen to music and stare at the wall, work on english lesson plans, etc.

3pm teach 2 girls an english class
4pm teach another girl who is my only second level english student
5pm water my garden and plants again, wash dishes, start cooking dinner
6pm the sun is down, the bugs are out, i'm eating and relaxing finally
730pm do my exercises so i have the incentive to shower again before going to bed
8pm bedtime! the mosquito net gets unfurled and i pass out pretty quickly

Winter (fall included) is such a different season here, for me. I am very busy right now, and that helps keep me living in the moment instead of worrying or thinking too much about What Comes Next. Life is good right now.

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Date:2008-02-18 10:27
Subject:still in py, still alive =)
Security:Public

I have now been in Paraguay for almost 17 months, 10 months to go. Time flies when you are... okay, not sure how to end that. I do have fun, but I think it's mostly the strange effect of time warp -- the intermittent communication with folks back home, the travel to and from the city, the heat -- that makes it difficult to quantify what my experience here has been like so far. Impossible to sum up in one word so far.

Things I might be up to between now and December 12th:
- studying for the GRE
- remaking Taylor's incredibly short sweater
- lots of gardening (no might about that)
- flitting over to BsAs some time this winter (juneish perhaps)
- hoeing
- planting
- teaching english
- doing HIV/AIDS workshops
- drinking terere
- reading
- visiting friends

...And that's the life of this Peace Corps Volunteer. Things are good. I can only wish the traquilo-ness of my daily life on everyone else... take a load off. come to paraguay, sweat, and drink terere, and just chill the fork out...

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Date:2007-11-22 07:53
Subject:My Second Thanksgiving Day in Paraguay...
Security:Public

Last year´s 3rd Thursday in November was celebrated with the 30-something other members of my training group, in our training center in Guarambare. We spent the morning cooking in various locations (CHP, trainer´s houses, etc.)and then spent the afternoon eating. And Eating. And EATING. I remember refilling my plate for first course 3 times. And with dessert twice. Ahh, my stomach was larger then.

This year, today, will be a little different. I am in the capital, and my plans include getting waxed (ahh, pampering...little things count!), having lunch with a COSing friend, and possibly seeing the matinee of the Bourne Supremacy at the mall. Oh, and calling people about the bus to...Thanksgiving! this weekend in Encarn. So never fear, my people back in the US of A. I will be eating turkey this year. Just a few days late. (And there is a rumor of pecan pie, if Kati doesn´t steal it beforehand and eat it all!)

I wish everyone a great day filled with whatever it is that makes you happiest. Be glad it´s not 90 degrees already at 8am where ever you are. (Or if it is, remember to wear a hat! I will be wearing my fergie hat.)

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Date:2007-11-10 12:49
Subject:
Security:Public

I am pleased to present the results of a quiz.
Thank you, Mr. Lake.

What American accent do you have? (Best version so far)

Neutral

You're not Northern, Southern, or Western, you're just plain -American-. Your national identity is more important than your local identity, because you don't really have a local identity. You might be from the region in that map, which is defined by this kind of accent, but you could easily not be. Or maybe you just moved around a lot growing up.

Personality Test Results

Click Here to Take This Quiz
Brought to you by YouThink.com quizzes and personality tests.

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Date:2007-05-11 11:50
Subject:I'm still here!
Security:Public

I've been having a great time with Alice's visit. I just finished a 4-day Technical In-Service Training in another department of Paraguay and got to see an example of a project started by PCVs 10 years down the road. Very inspiring. Alice gets back from BA tomorrow and we'll go back to site for the last week and a half of her visit. Rather than go crazy and spend the whole time terereing and reading, we're going to finally finish my garden fence and maybe go see some people about some bees. Or something like that.

The last month has been a vivid example of the dramatic ups and downs in a PCV's service that they tell you about. I am coming up out of a big down, and it feels good. Hard to know when you're in it when you will come back up again (or if you will) but here I am. The important thing seems to be to remain open to discussing the hard shit with friends. It's never too late for someone to help.

And now I'm listening to Christina Aguilera in the computer lab at the PCO and will be going to see Borat today with buddies. Who said Peace Corps Volunteers don't have fun? Hah! Word.

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Date:2007-04-23 09:11
Subject:Imminent Arrival of Flesh and Blood
Security:Public

My sister gets here in 14 hours! yay! aaand that's about all this update is going to consist of:

My sister gets here in 14 hours! yay!

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Date:2007-04-01 12:37
Subject:In Which I Copy My Sister's Form of Subjects and Finally Update my Damn Journa
Security:Public
Mood:tranquilo

I'm not dead! Yay! I'm still here in Paraguay, and in fact the things I predicted in my last post more or less did happen. Mas o menos being the key phrase in the previous sentence. How to explain? Let me try.

I did go to a beautiful green place with lots of trees, and people who want to work bees. That's lots of trees. That's not lots of people who want to work bees, unfortunately (the comma is important). There are perhaps 10 people who want to work bees, but of course no one is stepping forward, so obstensibly no one wants to work bees and I have to go out there and shove it all in their faces until something sticks. But that's okay. That's actually in my job description ("...work in grassroots development in rural Paraguay through such sustainable tactics as badgering, information barrage, and birthday parties. Also expected to integrate fully into community through sitting around and doing nothing as often as possible, through the unique cultural outlet of drinking terere. Sometimes expected to...") as you can see.

Paraguay, as the United States, is neither obvious nor easy to understand. I say that now, but when I got here I didn't truly understand that about the States, that my own country could fall under the category of Other once I got far enough away to see it from some perspective. Just as frustrated as I get sometimes with different aspects of the culture here (always trying not to judge but only sometimes succeeding), I have to keep in mind that my own culture -- acquired from my 24 years of life in urban PNW US of A, at CR, the U of O, in Krakow, at LL, all the places I have been and all the things I have done and all the people who helped contribute to and form who I am -- is just as alien to the people I live with here as theirs is to mine. Por ejemplo: in my conservative, small, campo community, it is unthinkable that an unmarried woman would live alone before getting married; she lives with her immediate family or relatives until she has a partner and family of her own. I am regularly asked by my neighbors "don't you get lonely? aren't you scared to live alone? aren't you scared to sleep alone?" and it's not because there is any reason I should be scared, but just that that's how they would feel if they did it.

My mind has been blown more times than I can count or recount since I got here, especially since I got to site (living with a host family during training was nothing like living with a host family in site was). I think I am finally getting used to the fact that I will continue to be surprised and provoked into thinking deeply about myself and what I believe here (not often easy). The first two months in site were incredibly hard for me, and the last month has been great, and I can't possibly predict what the next 3 or 6 or 21 months will be like, but I can say I have learned a few things that will help me out over the rest of my service here in Py:

1. I can't change culture, but I can both learn and teach about it (my own and others').
2. You get what you give 99% of the time.
3. Trust is hard to build but priceless once attained (and is a two-way street ideally).
4. Don't hold grudges against yourself or others for mistakes made in ignorance.
5. Don't be afraid to ask for what you need (whether technical or emotional in nature).

Well, I'm running out of wisdom to impart, and I need to go get lunch before I head to the bus terminal and back to site, so please continue about your day with the knowledge that I am still alive and missing everyone back home, and not a little bit insane, but in a good way (but you probably knew that already).

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Date:2007-04-01 12:37
Subject:
Security:Public

I'm not dead! Yay! I'm still here in Paraguay, and in fact the things I predicted in my last post more or less did happen. Mas o menos being the key phrase in the previous sentence. How to explain? Let me try.

I did go to a beautiful green place with lots of trees, and people who want to work bees. That's lots of trees. That's not lots of people who want to work bees, unfortunately (the comma is important). There are perhaps 10 people who want to work bees, but of course no one is stepping forward, so obstensibly no one wants to work bees and I have to go out there and shove it all in their faces until something sticks. But that's okay. That's actually in my job description ("...work in grassroots development in rural Paraguay through such sustainable tactics as badgering, information barrage, and birthday parties. Also expected to integrate fully into community through sitting around and doing nothing as often as possible, through the unique cultural outlet of drinking terere. Sometimes expected to...") as you can see.

Paraguay, as the United States, is neither obvious nor easy to understand. I say that now, but when I got here I didn't truly understand that about the States, that my own country could fall under the category of Other once I got far enough away to see it from some perspective. Just as frustrated as I get sometimes with different aspects of the culture here (always trying not to judge but only sometimes succeeding), I have to keep in mind that my own culture -- acquired from my 24 years of life in urban PNW US of A, at CR, the U of O, in Krakow, at LL, all the places I have been and all the things I have done and all the people who helped contribute to and form who I am -- is just as alien to the people I live with here as theirs is to mine. Por ejemplo: in my conservative, small, campo community, it is unthinkable that an unmarried woman would live alone before getting married; she lives with her immediate family or relatives until she has a partner and family of her own. I am regularly asked by my neighbors "don't you get lonely? aren't you scared to live alone? aren't you scared to sleep alone?" and it's not because there is any reason I should be scared, but just that that's how they would feel if they did it.

My mind has been blown more times than I can count or recount since I got here, especially since I got to site (living with a host family during training was nothing like living with a host family in site was). I think I am finally getting used to the fact that I will continue to be surprised and provoked into thinking deeply about myself and what I believe here (not often easy). The first two months in site were incredibly hard for me, and the last month has been great, and I can't possibly predict what the next 3 or 6 or 21 months will be like, but I can say I have learned a few things that will help me out over the rest of my service here in Py:

1. I can't change culture, but I can both learn and teach about it (my own and others').
2. You get what you give 99% of the time.
3. Trust is hard to build but priceless once attained (and is a two-way street ideally).
4. Don't hold grudges against yourself or others for mistakes made in ignorance.
5. Don't be afraid to ask for what you need (whether technical or emotional in nature).

Well, I'm running out of wisdom to impart, and I need to go get lunch before I head to the bus terminal and back to site, so please continue about your day with the knowledge that I am still alive and missing everyone back home, and not a little bit insane, but in a good way (but you probably knew that already).

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Date:2006-11-25 17:04
Subject:Where Aurora will be for the next two years....until December 2008
Security:Public

I have been assigned as a First Volunteer (the first beekeeper in that site) to a small town of about 650 people (spread out along a dirt road) in the hilly, marshy, green Departamiento of Cordillera in Paraguay. This dept. is just northeast of Central, where Asuncion is, so it's pretty much smack in the middle of Paraguay. I will be working with a women's comittee (my contact is the president) and other people in the community, who are interested in organic gardening, marketing and making garden products such as jams and preserves, making and marketing bee products, beekeeping (duh), abonos verdes (green manures), and who knows what else. I do not yet know what my address will be there and very likely all that will change is that I will have a box number for the Peace Corps office and it will be PCV instead of PCV (important!).

I swear in on December 15th as a PCV, and on the 18th I go to my site! Very exciting stuff.

Updates to follow next weekend after I go to actually visit the new site for the first time and pick where I'll be living for the first two months!

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Date:2006-11-12 13:20
Subject:long-awaited update
Security:Public

Howdy everybody. I'm sitting in a cybercafe in a mall in asuncion, here for the day with a few of my fellow Trainees. We've been stumbling around, taking the wrong busses, and generally having a typical Paraguay day. I am sitting here assured with the knowledge that as soon as I am done typing this there is a bathroom 200 feet away for me to use. It is very important to always know where the bathroom is these days. No, you really don't want the details (ashartakuri is all i'll say). I am getting the hang of getting around here.... Took the bus by myself for the first time today. Apparently there are no pants for sale in Asuncion in a size larger than 5-6. Fun. Today I saw a t-shirt with a bouquet of flowers on it and Flower Smell on it. It was too small or I would have bought it.

I am more tan, skinnier (thanks to recurring stomach bugs), and starting to be but really not totally in step with Hora Paraguaya.... No one is ever in a hurry here and they don't understand you when you're in a hurry. Being late is a fact not a problem, as far as I can tell. Sooo different. I still haven't put any pictures from my camera online but hopefully will soon. I keep saying that. I still mean it.

I am tearing through the books I brought, but so is everyone else, so there's a nice book exchange going on. I read The Devil in the White City, about the 1893 Chicago World's Fair -- good book. Currently rereading Jaran. Would love any Ursula LeGuin paperback versions of her Ecumen scifi books sent. Have Left hand of Darkness, already being sent the telling hopefully, but any others would be awrsome...

I miss cool fall weather and paved roads. I'm going to have to get over that. In less than 2 weeks we find out our site placements, on the day after thanksgiving. I am guaranteed to be out a long ways on a red dirt road that is totally impassable when it's raining. Luckily, I have a feeling that I'm going to get a placement in the North where it doesn't rain much. We'll see.

Don't be a stranger, y'all! I LOVE getting the letters you have been sending me.... more more more! And I apologize for my own flaky letter writing... Currently it's easier to check my email than get time to write letters, but that WILL change in a month.

Take care and hug someone for me!

love,
-aurora

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Date:2006-09-30 15:49
Subject:hello from guarambare!
Security:Public

Since I haven´t got any letters written yet, I just wanted to write and say that I got here okay and I am loving it. i have already learned a little more spanish and guarani, and i am going to start learning guarani next week since my spanish is good enough. the food is different but good (empanadas, patata, mandioca, stew with carnasa de primera y papas, and of course terere and mate, both of which are woooonderful). My brain is still pretty fried so it´s hard to think if what to write, but we have the rest of the week off until monday morning and i think i´m going to be playing some ultimate and sleeping a lot. I´ll send letter soon, don´t worry! I can send them on wednesdays with the mail lady, so i´ll probably be doing that. my companeros de apicultura are waiting to use the computer so I´m going to go now. take care yáll! que tengan suerte!

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Date:2006-09-25 12:54
Subject:
Security:Public

Hello, Miami! You are very hot and steamy. I like your palm trees! Thank you for hosting Peace Corps Paraguay Staging September 06.

Oh, and just where exactly are you hiding the pool at this hotel? Don't be coy...

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Date:2006-09-24 06:40
Subject:
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I fly out in less than three hours -- I can't eat due to a confused appetite -- I'm all packed, and so off I go!

Thank you everyone who has helped me get through these last few weeks!

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Date:2006-09-21 17:34
Subject:
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I now leave in 3 days. I seem to be successfully spending most of my remaining time asleep (woo!), and so those three remaining days should pass quickly. I still have to get new passport photos (for the Paraguay visa) and a copy of my ODL to bring to staging with me, and will most likely do that tomorrow.

Oh, and in case anyone else is confused about this, my training is not in Miami. It's in Paraguay. Staging--the 3 day orientation before training--is in Miami. Good.

In other news, I have about 50 new cds made from music that was on my ipod but nowhere else (coming from iTunes originally).

And Jen's cats are adorable.

And Solitaire is a good way to pass the time (I'm bringing a book of card games with me!).

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Date:2006-09-14 14:00
Subject:10 days and counting
Security:Public

Here's my mailing address in Paraguay:

Aurora Lemieux, PCT (or after December, PCV)
Cuerpo de Paz
162 Chaco Boreal c/Mcal. Lopez
Asuncion 1580, Paraguay
South America

I have 2 more nights to sleep in my own bed! after that, it will be couches, my parent's spare bed, and then hotels until my host family during training! !!!

Tomorrow the kitties go to Max's (no, not the bar). I am bringing pictures of them to Py. to help me miss them more.

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Date:2006-09-07 20:35
Subject:Sept 15th at High St. 7pm - come one, come all!
Security:Public

Well, I leave on the 24th to fly to Miami, go through 2 days of Pre Departure Orientation, and then on the 27th late at night I fly out with my Paraguay group to Sao Paolo and then on to Asuncion (capital of Py).

If you didn't just get an email from me inviting you, it's because I don't have your email address, but you are all invited to come celebrate my big adventure at High Street on Friday, Sept 15th any time after 7pm.

17 days and counting!

Oh, and I'm flying out of Portland on the 24th, and I'll be in town (PDX) on the 22nd and 23rd, so if you are unable to make it down this coming Friday I will be available right before I leave and I would still love to see you (Ken/Jen? Jay? David? Frank? anyone?).

Yes, I am excited, and No, I am not packed yet, and I still have to move (slated for the 16th), and hopefully I will be coming down to San Francisco during the week before I leave (18th - 21st ish).

Anywhooo....drop me a line or call or something. 684-0066.

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Date:2006-08-10 15:43
Subject:
Security:Public

I got this from Joelle. If you are a book geek like me and want to see how many books you've read in someone else's list.... click on the cut to see!

1. Bold those books you've read.
2. Italicise started-but-never-finished.
3. Add three of your own.
4. Post to your livejournal.

read my list!Collapse )

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Date:2006-08-08 15:08
Subject:Invited!
Security:Public

I am finally officially a Peace Corps Invitee. (Next, I will be a Peace Corps Trainee.)

I leave September 25th to fly to Miama for Pre-Service Orientation (also called staging), and from there I fly to Paraguay to train for 11 weeks to become a Beekeeping Extensionist. Basically I will be helping small-scale farmers add beekeeping to their farms and skills, as well as other smaller projects I have yet to discover.

I am very excited. Beekeeping is much more exciting than business advising, personally. Thank you, everyone, for your support during this crazy process!

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