Semana Santa and other miscellaneous

Trip Start Sep 25, 2006
Trip End Dec 25, 2008

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Flag of Paraguay  ,
Thursday, March 27, 2008

People are always requesting more photos of us, so here are a few in no particular chronological order.  It continues to be hot in our site, consistently in the 90s, with little rain.  Life goes on as usual though - Adam continues working very hard on the computer lab and has started a reading program in the elementary school classes.  It is sorely needed in an educational system that functions more on appearances (i.e. being able to read) than substance (understanding what is read and developing true literacy).  I am doing a bit of work as well in the school, occasionally helping Adam with the reading program and in the computer lab.  I have also given in to pleas from the high school principal and agreed to help teach two English classes.  The good news is that my co-teacher seems very willing to learn right along with the students (she speaks no English) so as to be better prepared to teach them when I am gone.  This was not the case with the man I worked with last year, who is about the only Paraguayan I have ever met that I truly despise.  Being able to teach English by relating it to Spanish and Guarani is a huge advantage - English sounds (like our "h" and "j" that don't exist in Spanish have a corrollary in Guarani).  Other than work in the school I am just biding my time, waiting for rains to come so I can get the trees out of my nursery (some are over 2 meters tall) and into their final planting locations, and also plant more green manures with a local farmer.
The week running up to Easter, Holy Week or "Semana Santa" in Spanish, is the biggest holiday in Paraguay, much bigger than Christmas.  It coincides with harvests of three of the country's major crops, cotton, soy, and yerba mate, so people generally have money to celebrate.  Schools let out on Tuesday of Holy Week.  On Wednesday, all the families make chipa, a bagel-like bread made of cheese, corn flour, manioc flour, and some other things.  They make hundreds for their huge families, because after "the Last Supper" on Holy Thursday, they don't eat anything except chipa and "sopa Paraguaya" (another variation on the corn flour/cheese combo bread) until Holy Saturday.  Some families wait until Easter to break the starch fast.  We made 26 chipas for ourselves with our neighbor Elsa for the second year in a row, then had a huge last supper the next day with her family, which almost actually was the last meal I ate since the quantity of duck, pasta, and chicken I ate nearly killed me.  On Holy Friday nobody works in Paraguay, since the tradition is that no money can be changed and everybody must be solemn and remember the sacrifice of Christ on the cross.  In practice, nobody works, but solemnity is cast aside in favor of beer drinking and visiting the neighbors.  Adam and I busted our buts fixing our fence, which had been falling down and was decidely not cow proof, and did a lot of other around the house chores that work activities had kept us from attending to.  On Sunday we walked to the next town over and did Easter egg dyeing with another volunteer, Robyn, and some little girls from her town.  They loved it.  Then that afternoon we had a really nice lunch with some of Robyn's friends - a big spread including mutton (delicious!), chickens, pasta, fresh vegetable salad with imported blue cheese dressing (courtesy of Robyn) and a beautiful homemade cake with merengue frosting.  And on the walk back home, a truck picked us up, capping off the perfect day.  Semana Santa is my favorite holiday by far!

Tomorrow we head to Argentina to meet up with my folks for two weeks of vacationing there.  Stay tuned for photos and a recap!
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aunt-ann-spry on

I enjoy your photos
I enjoy seeing your photos and reading your entries on your site. Your parents had a great time seeing you both and the beautiful people and countries there. Love, Aunt Ann

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