29 March 2009


I'm starting to put my pictures on ShutterFly, check them out at usatoparaguay.shutterfly.com
If it asks you, the password is "pilar". It's a slow process, so check throughout the week for more updates.

22 March 2009


A lot of people have been asking about the food here, so here it is. An entire post dedicated to Paraguayan food. I´ll add to this during the next week too. Breakfast here is almost nothing. Milk with coffee or chocolate, some bread, and maybe some tea. Lunch is the principal meal, and EVERYONE eats lunch at home. Dinner is basically just for weekends, and instead we have "merienda" in the late afternoon, and again around 8 or 9.

This is Sopa Paraguaya. It´s one of the most "Paraguayan" foods there is. It´s made with egg, cheese, flour, and some seasonings. It´s super common, and it´s really good. It reminds me a little of the crust part of some casseroles.

This is chipa. Chipa is a cheese-corn mixture eaten several times a week. Because dinner isn´t big here, we have "merienda" in the late afternoon. From about 3PM to dark, there are chipa vendors that walk or ride bikes around town selling fresh chipa door-to-door. Chipa is usually half moon-shaped, but it is occasionally ring-shaped like a bagel. In Asunción, they had prepackaged chipa that tasted like fritos, but I definitely prefer the fresh kind.

This is mbeyú. Mbeyú is made out of corn flour, manioc flour, cheese, and milk. It starts out in a crumbly dough, then is cooked in a pan over the stove. The cheese melts to hold everything together. It doesn´t have a really strong flavor, but it pretty good.

Empanadas are sort of fast food, Paraguayan style. They´re little fried pockets filled with egg, chicken, beef, corn, vegetables, or basically anything else. These are usually eaten as an evening snack, or sometimes as a side dish to lunch.

This is called borí borí. Borí are little balls made out of corn, served in soups with vegetables, chicken, or beef. This is another very "Paraguayan" food that no other country has. I´ve only had this a few times, because it´s mainly a "winter food" and autumn is just starting here.

Mandioca is eaten almost every day at lunch. Usually, it´s just peeled and boiled, but it can also be fried, or used to make other foods such as mbeyú. It´s a lot like a potato, and has a very mild flavor.

This is chipa so'o. It´s like chipa, except it's filled with a ground beef-and-veggie mixture.

I can´t find a picture of the actual soda, but guaraná soda is AMAZING. Simba is the most popular brand here. It´s flavor is kind of hard to describe, I´m sure I´ll bring some back.

Lomito is basically a hamburger in a slightly different shape. Lomito and hamburger are both eaten with different toppings here though- fried egg, mayonnaise, salsa, lettuce, tomato, and choclo (corn) are the most common.

Tereré IS Paraguay. We drink it every day, everywhere. Home, school, in the car, outside, inside, everywhere. Almost everyone has their own Termo, Guampa, and Bombilla. Termo is the pitcher, guampa is the cup, and bombilla is the straw. Tereré is a type of cold tea. First, the guampa is filled with Yerba Mate, a mixture of leaves, about halfway. Then ice water is poured in from the termo. You drink a cup, fill it again, and pass it around. I'm planning on bringing a bunch of this home.

07 March 2009


Part 1, AFS Camps, Plane ride, etc.

Part 2, Pilar

Part 3, Pilar, Carnaval

Part 4, Flowers/Trees/Plants

Cowboys and Birds

So I´ve completed my first full week of Paraguayan high school. Some subjects are surprisingly easy (Matemáticas, Física, Lógica) and others are basically impossible for me (História, Lengua Castellana, Guaraní, Química). In total, there are about 20 or so subjects. I was kinda freaking out for a bit, but someone finally told me that I only have to choose 8 or 9 to actually be graded in, the others are just a formality. I´m still not sure which ones I´m taking, but I should know by the end of the week.
This weekend is CARNAVAL! Last night we went out to eat for a friend´s birthday, then to the parade area. It´s so much fun. Everyone runs around with these cans of spray soap bubbles, attacking everyone else, and there´s a huge speaker system set up blasting the same bizzare mixture of traditional Paraguayan music and reggaeton that seams to always be playing and isn´t sounding quite so bizzare anymore. Every now and then this drumming group comes out and performs. It´s amazing music, the kind that somehow just gives you energy (which everyone needs, seeing as this all doesn´t even start until 10PM or so and goes on all night) and all 15 or 20 members of the group are in perfect sync. They range in age from about 14 to 50, and enlist younger kids to help them carry the equipment. After a few hours of this, the parade starts around midnight. The costumes in the parade are incredible. They´re all similar in design, but all different colors, and slightly different styles. Always beaded, sequined clothes, glittery skin, and elaborately feathered and beaded headdresses and, for lack of a better word, "wings." The wings aren´t really wings, but massive decorations made out of a massive amount of feathers worn on the dancers´ backs. Everything in their costume combines with their stilettos and dancing to make them look like elegant birds. The guys in the parade are all dressed as cowboys, with some added glitter and sequins. I really don´t know how birds and cowboys go together, but I guess for one weekend a year in a small town in Paraguay, they do. The dancers range in age from adults to little girls who couldn´t be more than 6 or 7 years old. I don´t know when this all actually ends, but it was going strong when we left around 2:30 because both of my little brothers had finally fallen asleep.
The flowers here are all so beautiful and exotic looking. Some of them only flower at night, and I´ve been told that the flowers now are nothing compared to what there is in May and June.
In other news, my family has internet now, meaning that pictures will be posted soon! I´m currently working on getting them uploaded, but it´s taking a while. Hopefully I can get them up today, but if not, later this week for sure.