I am actually cold and in Paraguay.
If you had told me this would happen two months ago, my past-PY summer-sweaty-disgusting self would have laughed in your face and told you to get the heck out.
But it’s true! I’ve been living in my long underwear and flannel shirt and jacket and layering, layering, layering. I actually have a clear memory of packing my two bags (less than 24 hours before I left) and sorting things out. Kyle goes: “Do you really think you will need that second pair of thick long underwear? You’re going to PARAGUAY!” Oh, cruel world.
It’s hard to get out of bed in the mornings. At 6 am, I just want to stay under the toasty sheets. I also now hate going to the bathroom. It’s the only time I peel the long underwear off and it SO COLD. OK, OK so it’s really only around 50 degrees here. But take this into account: no heat, no insulation in the walls, windows that may or may not close completely. These houses were built for the summer, not the winter. It’s more like camping in 45-50 degree weather because you can never quite get warm again. Unless you are under a ton of blankets, or are showering and lucky enough to have hot showers (I am).
Good news though: mosquitoes are dying off as it gets colder. I no longer have to douse myself in OFF! to stay bite-free and, more importantly, dengue-free.
SPEAKING OF HOT SHOWERS, I’ve been meaning to blog about this. No water heater in my house so how do I get hot showers? Electricity! Here in Paraguay, we were taught that (despite what we all grew up thinking up Norte) electricity and water do actually mix. People install devices that look like a regular shower head, but it actually has electrical current that goes through it to heat the water before it comes out. You turn it on with a light switch before getting in, and hop into the shower. The more water that goes through the shower head, the colder it will be (it took me a while to figure this out).
What I love about the experience is that when you turn off the shower, all the lights that were dimmed go back to full strength. I’m not going to lie, I’m a little wary. I’m almost 100% sure I’ve felt little jolts of electricity every once in awhile when I’m adjusting the water pressure which makes every hygiene experience an adventure.
As an emotional update, god, I’m exhausted. I think I need a break out of site. I called Kyle two days ago just a mess and crying because I just feel lost and pulled in twenty directions, and unsure of what I’m doing. I feel like I’m bullshitting my way through everything and that makes me feel like a fraud and terrible. I feel like it’s the in-site two month slump. I talked to some training friends and it seems like they are feeling the same way, sometimes describing how they are feeling exactly the same way I worded it two days ago. So future PCVs, beware the two month slump.
I did some activities with first and second grade this week though and that makes me feel better! Working with kids and seeing them have fun and trying makes my day seem worth it and like i accomplished something at least.
What I’m really freaking out about is this reading club. I have started advertising at 6 different elementary schools a little over-zealously I think. Then the other day when I was sick and was talking to my country director, he was like where are you getting the books from? I was like HOLY CRAP I am completely unprepared for all of this. Most PCVs’ first projects die because we are over anxious freshmen PCVs itching to get started but what we really need to be doing is hold back and get to know everything.
It’s SO HARD. Take my word for it. You’re here, people are expecting to work and you feel guilty taking it easy and getting to know people and not working. You want to prove yourself to your community. I personally also feel like I HAVE to work hard because I’ve put my Estado Unidense life on hold for 27 months and I don’t want to be wasting my time here being useless. That is the emotional part of me talking/writing/thinking.
The RATIONAL part of me knows that I need to hold back, meet people, talk to people, take it easy until I have a better idea of what the community members actually want and what they need to achieve that.
But, I haven’t really been listening to my rational side lately and now I’m in it whether I want to or not! Flyers are up and kids are coming on Monday and Wednesday. We’re starting with leveled reading materials which I have from Peace Corps and we’ll see where we go from that. Who knows? It could be fantastic but I’m not going to expect great things. Going to stay grounded, or try to!