Week 4Written by carrie.haines on Jun 19, 2009 in Uncategorized - No Comments
This past weekend we were all sent to stay with different Peace Corps
Volunteers. I got one who lives and works in a rather large city, Villaricca. It is about 3 hours away from where we are staying in Paso de Oro. My travel companion was Michael who was going to visit another volunteer out in the compo. We knew that we were in a bit of trouble when our 8 a.m. bus had still not arrived at almost 10 a.m. However, the bus attendent at the station kept assuring us that the bus would come. It did around 10 a.m. Michael and I got on. We each got seats but before we had gone 30 minutes there were passengers standing in the aisles. Fortunately, none of us went hungry because at every stop a vendor would come on and offer to sell us items to eat. One of the favorite is called Chiapa (pronounced cheepa). It is kind of doughnut (or bagel) looking and is made of corn meal, cheese, and milk. It is a little dry (depending on who bakes it) but it is delicious.
Unfortunately, it probably has about a million calories. The Chiapa girls on the bus have a blue uniform and carry a basket on one hand (a very heavy basket, I might add). They struggle up and down the aisles selling the chiapas while the bus gets back on the road. The bus lets them off at the next stop. It is very interesting to watch. I´m just glad that I´m not a chiapa girl.
Mike got off the bus at his town (colonel Oliveda) and I´m planning where I am supposed to get off at my town when all of a sudden two American guys get on the bus — it is Mike and his volunteer, Tim.
They missed the last bus to the volunteer´s site and decided to come with me to Brennan´s place in Villaricca. So we got off at the bus station in Villaricca and Tim calls Brennan who said that he would meet us at the supermercado. In the meantime we are joined by another Peace Corp Volunteer, Solla. We head off for the supermercado to meet Brennan and after doing a little shopping (once I had seen his kitchen, I understand why he had to shop — nothing but condiments on the shelves) we headed for lunch at Brennan´s favorite restaurant.
Then we went to Brennan´´s house. He lives in a compound (the entire block belongs to the colonel and it has the colonel´s house, a gazebo type house, and 4 other houses that the colonel rents to others) that is completely fenced in. It was beautiful and had lots of trees to sit out under. The days seem to be warmer but the nights are still just as cold. Two other Peace Corps volunteers, Mary (who is about 48) and chantelle who live in Villaricca also joined us and we all went to a grade school fiesta that was to raise money for the roof. It was like every grade school carnival everywhere (except that in the U.S. they usually don´t let you shoot a bb gun at a target with all the kids running around).
Unfortunately, I have to stop my story here as Bambi needs to leave.
Tomorrow we are starting our dia de practica where we begin a project.
Since Bambi and I like the internet and computers, we decided to make our a cyber cafe. Hopefully, I´ll get this finished then.
Next Day (June 19)
Bambi and I did our interview with the owner of this internet cafe. It is very interesting because he did this with a friend whom he went to school with and they just saved up enough money to start it on their own.
Back to my story about Villaricca
On Sunday, Brennan and I walked over to visit a family that he knows.
We stopped along the way to buy wine (in a box) and some cola (definitely not Coke or Pepsi). We stopped by their house and were welcomed into the patio where the family was playing cards – a kind of gin rummy. The Mom took the whole pot and then they brought out the terere.
I have to explain about terere. You put mate (yerba mate tea) in a wooden cup called a guampa and according to your preference add other dried herbs. Then you place a metal straw (a bombilla) into the mate.
You fill a pitcher with water adding fresh herbs like lemongrass, mint, basil, etc. (whatever suits your needs at the moment). You fill the guampa with the herbal water and sip the terere through the straw.
When the tea water is gone, you fill the guampa from the pitcher again and hand it to the next person. That person sucks the terere dry and hands the guampa back to you. You fill it again and hand it to the next person. This can go on for hours – and yes, you are all drinking from the same straw. The terere tastes pretty good and is very refreshing but I’m still not too sure about what else we are passing around. My one observation is that the Peace Corps volunteers who are guys like this a whole lot more than the PCVs who are girls but that’s just my observation. You also do the same with hot mate. I’ve only tried that once or twice but I hate drinking hot liquid through a metal straw so I usually pass on the mate. Also hot mate tastes a lot like liquid dirt.
After the terere it was time for lunch. Since lunch was ready and we were there, they invited us to eat. It was a delicious stew and a kind of cornbread made with eggs and cheese. It was very tasty but almost too hot to hold.
We sat around after lunch for about 30 minutes. The Dad is retired and is about 70. All his children live close by and are associated with the co-op that Brennan helps with. the Dad loves to talk about the Peace Corps volunteers that he knows. We were talking about age and they asked me how old I was. I told them and thought nothing of it.
Then he asked how old Mary was (the volunteer who works in the schools in villaricca). When he found out that she was only 48, he was astonished because he thought she was the same age as me. We all had a good laugh over that but none of us are going to tell Mary he said that.
We then thanked the family and left to meet Carlos and Stu (another pair of volunteer/trainee) who just happened to stop by to see us and to spend the night. Chantelle stopped by and she and I walked over to the local Catholic Church for Mass at 6 p.m. Lynn would have a heart attack at the liturgical faux paus. One girl (probably about 14 or 15) did both readings and read the psalm. She also served as altar server and prepared the table for the offertory. Then she read the prayers of the faithful and took up the collection! And it is not that she was the only person available. The church was full of people. After we said the Our Father, we also said a Hail Mary and some other prayer.
When it came time for communion, the priest looked for someone else to help him distribute communion. A woman came forward looking as if she were on the schedule. The priest completely ignored her and called a man from the congregation and handed him the ciborium. Needless to say, it was an interesting experience.
We all went out for pizza after Mass and I must say, it was delicious!
Then we went back to Brennan’s and played Hearts. I’m trying to understand how it is possible to get the Queen of Spades every single time. The score was like 116 (me) to 5 (Brennan) by the time we finished the game. The next day Brennan taught me how to play two Spanish card games. He won every single one of those too but I bought the special deck of cards and can teach these games to the other volunteers.
We finally planted our garden – radishes in 6 weeks (also lettuce, beets, carrots, and onions). but more on that later (if it survives the sun and the chickens). It has warmed up considerable so I´m enjoying the warmth and not having to bundle up.
Bonita Bakes a Cake
Bonita loves to go into the kitchen and watch Eladia bake cakes. One day when Eladia was busy in another part of the house, Bonita decided that it was time to bake her own cake. She went into the kitchen and soon busied herself with preparation for the cake. First she got all the ingredients together – sugar and salt. Bonita didn’t have a mixing bowl so she used the condiment bottles on the table to form a circle. Then Bonita poured the sugar out of the sugar bowl into the middle of her circle. Then she added the contents of the salt jar.
Bonita is very good at taking off lids and she soon had a pile of sugar and salt in the middle of her circle. What next? Why to mix it, of course. When Eladia came into the kitchen, there is Bonita in the middle of the table, mixing her pile of salt and sugar by throwing it into the air. Needless to say, Bonita went to bed that night without cake.