15 April 2009


Last week I got letters and pictures from my cousins, the Pitrof kids: Sydney, Olivia, Tony, and Sam, which my host family thinks they're adorable. So to start off this entry, I'll answer the questions they asked in their letters.
Do you like your new home?
Yes, I do. My house is between the center of town and the countryside, so I'm close to both. There are currently 8 of us living in the house, so it's a pretty big change, but I like it. Mostly, I like our yard though. Growing in the yard we have grapes, avocados, grapefruits, limes, apples, and a few fruits I haven't figured out the names of yet.

How's the food?
The food here is actually pretty good. It's pretty similar to US food, with slightly different ingredients and very different names. In the morning, breakfast is usually chocolate milk or coffee and bread. Lots of times we have snacks at the school's cantina, maybe a half-sandwich, some cookies, or an empanada. Lunch is the biggest meal of the day, and is a lot like dinner in the US. Usually there's some kind of grain (rice, pasta, mbeyu, borí, sopa paraguaya) with some sort of meat or vegetable and mandioca. We have merienda in the late afternoon. It's usually a lot like breakfast, except maybe with a bananaor yogurt. Dinner is really late, and we almost never eat it during the week. On weekends, I usually go out to eat with friends for dinner.

Did you teach them how to play football?
Here, "futbol" is soccer, but I'm working on teaching my little brothers how to play "futbol americano" which is what they call what we know as football. I can't say that I've been successful in teaching them the rules/format, but they love playing with the weird-shaped ball.

What sports are there?
In my city, basketball is actually the most popular sport, with soccer, tennis, and volleyball also being pretty popular. In the rest of the country, however, soccer is the most popular sport. Because basketball is only popular in my city, most people are fans of one of the national soccer clubs as well as a local basketball team. Volleyball and tennis aren't really watched, but lots of people play them for fun.

Do they know English?
Well, my English teacher does! English here is like Spanish class there. Other than her, I know a Peace Corps volunteer from California who lives in my city, an AFS returnee who lived in Chicago for a year, and a Mormon missionary who speak English well. There are a few people around who speak a little English, but mostly everyone just speaks Spanish and Guaraní. In the big cities like Asunción and Ciudad del Este there are more people that speak English. On the border with Brazil, cities like Ciudad del Este and Pedro Juan Caballero, a lot of people actually speak Portuguese more often than Spanish. In the countryside, everyone speaks Guaraní and some people don't speak Spanish. In my city almost everyone is fluent in Spanish and almost-fluent in Guaraní.

Are there TVs there?
Of course! The most popular show here is The Simpsons. Almost all of the programs come from other countries, and a lot of them just have subtitles instead of being dubbed. Because of this, there are programs from the USA, Brazil, Thailand, Korea, the UK that are just subtitled in Spanish. Other shows come from Mexico, Puerto Rico, Colombia, Venezuela, and Argentina.

Is it fun there?
Sometimes! I don't think some things like math class are fun in any part of the world though.

Is it ever cold or is it always warm?
It's never cold like it is in Wisconsin! It never snows. So far, it's been between 80 and 100 degrees Fahrenheit most days. Because Paraguay is in the Southern Hemisphere, the seasons are the opposite of what they are in the United States. It's spring in the US, but it's fall here. When we have summer vacation, it's the middle of winter here. Christmas is usually one of the hottest days of the year! It will get cooler in the winter, but it usually doesn't get below 40 or 50 degrees Fahrenheit.

What's your brother and sisers names?
My oldest sister is names Patricia, but it's pronounced "pa-tree-see-uh" in Spanish. She's 16, and will be coming to the USA for a year in August as an AFS exchange student. She's in my grade at school, but in the other class that specializes in business.
My oldest brother's name is Victor. He's 14 and plays soccer.
My other brother's name is Anibal (ah-NEE-bahl). He's 10, and also plays soccer and violin.
Also living with us is my 12-year-old cousin Laura and my grandpa, plus my parents, of course.

Easter here is basically not celebrated. More important is Semana Santa, the week before Easter. I didn't have school last week Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday, and there were activities instead of classes on Tuesday. I got to meet some of my "extended family" from Asunción last week. There's a HUGE fishing competition in my city over Semana Santa, but nobody cares about the fish anymore. It's more about going to the park and the beach for the music and food, and we luckily had GREAT weather for it.

It's finally not so sweltering hot, but it's still in the 80s daily. Due to this change, my school has started letting us wear our gym pants instead of our skirts, which is a cause for celebration. School is still REALLY different here. There are no text books (there's no money for text books) and we stay with the same people all day. The classes are only one or two times a week, so not too much gets done...