Monday, June 20, 2011

The days are slow but the weeks are really fast..

I realize that may not make any sense but let me tell you its the truth! The days sometimes are soo slow but the weeks and the months go by so fast!

So currently it is raining. It will rain very hard for the next 5 minutes and then stop for 10 minutes and then start again. Its kinda annoying..I have a metal roof..I will hear it every single time it starts up..all night long...but the good thing is all my neighbors crops need the rain!!

Tomorrow I will be traveling to the CHACO! Where and what is the Chaco? The Chaco is the more natural/wild part of Paraguay. It is in the North of Paraguay. I will not be going that far into the Chaco because this is for 2-3 days of training with a contact from my community. One of my contacts and his wife are coming with me so that should be good. They are all of support for me here on the Island. I will also get to see my Ag/ Bee amigos! Very excited for this as well!

SO I live in my house now. Or I should say nice dorm room..because it is only one room of the house. The house itself needs alot of work and it would be very difficult for me to fix up because of money. But I like my room and bathroom (Modern Bathroom! WOOT!)  I went from living with 7 people to living with a cat...a cat which basically sleeps with the neighbors daughter because I refuse to let him sleep with me...But sometimes he does sleep at my house. He likes to have options..just like a loyalty! haha Although he is  a very cute cat.

I will be starting bee presentations in July to start the process of getting of the people in the island ready to capture some bees in September when it starts getting to warm weather more often. Well tomorrow officially starts winter but today and yesterday were very hot because it was getting ready to rain. After it rains it is super cold. And then I get a cold. haha no really today I officially got over a week long cold I have had. Finally! :)

I cannot believe my birthday is next week...its crazy! I asked my host mom in the island to make me my favorite dish.. Chicken and rice...I am over eating pig for a I will be spending the day with my host family in the island and then going to visit my family from training. I am really looking forward to it. I think it will be fun. 

I have been cleaning my yard for the past month and I am still not satisfied but I will get there. I will be putting in my garden soon which I am excited about because I have some good soil. I am also about to have A LOT of bananas because my banana plants are in great shape. I spent a good hour in a tree near my house chopping down limbs with a machete...not as easy as it sounds..I have no problems using a machete in a downward motion but upwards...lets just say I am getting a workout..

Which by the way is happening with out my knowledge..because none of my pants fit! Which is good I guess but I need to buy pants..its starting to get a little embarrassing haha 

Otherwise not much is going on. I can't even explain how books I have read thanks to my wonderful Aunt Julie. I also read a lot of tech stuff to make sure I know my stuff when I am talking to people. I also try to study Guarani which I have been slacking on lately! 

Things are going well with Jose, he is the best :) I am teaching him English and he is teaching me guarani little by little I think we are both making progress! Also, I am helping him with his bees which are doing great. I put some pictures on facebook that he took of me. We harvested honey back in April/May to make more room for his bees for winter and that went well. They are strong hive and good practice for me to keep myself in check.

Well folks..I promise to update more often! I know I am terrible at it! But now I have internet more often so I try more!

Miss and love you all so much <3

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Todo Tranquilo

Hey Everyone,
So I know I have not written in a VERY long time. Sorry about that! The internet I have isn’t great but I promise I will be better once I am officially in my house. Speaking of my house it is coming along POR FIN (finally). The house is big but I will only be using one room and I am excited because I am going to have a modern bathroom WOOT WOOT! Hot showers for Victoria! Especialmente porque it is fall here and winter is on its way. I like my neighbors so that is all good. I won’t say I have a true community because it is an island and the only time people really meet up is for meetings for the committee which I go to. They are very interesting and I think good change could be in the works! Lets hope so.
This past month I went to Asuncion and saw Shakira which was AWESOME she was great and worth every guarani. Jose and I went with a bunch of other volunteers and had a good time.
I bought my first official thing for my house (besides the materials) it is a fan and a heck of a good one. The community wanted me to have air conditioning…because they assumed I am American and I would want that…that would make me the only person on the island to have A/C….Wrong! I don’t think so. I survived a whole summer without it and I can do it again. I promise I am taking pictures throughout the whole process to show everyone. I have been working my butt off on the yuyos (more less weeds in this context) I have cleaned out a lot in order to hopefully soon setup my huerta (garden). I have banana trees and lemon trees (YA! Seriously lemon cures everything and makes lots of things taste better, it is practically my new best friend). I also have this tree called Sabel that everyone is going to want the leaves from because it is really good in mate so I am very excited about that as well! I still need to buy an electric oven, a mattress and the FRIDGE! But I am working on it. I have Jose to help me which honestly he makes my life SO much easier and happier haha J Speaking of Jose, things are great. I wish you all could meet him!
I have a kitten now, named Rio because I live in the Rio Paraguay. He is SUPER tiny and way too little to be away from his mom but I am hoping he will make it. I have only had him for about 6 days so far he is doing really well minus the CONSTANT meowing haha and the fact that I have to get up at 5:30 every day to feed him. He eats all day long so I guess that is a good sign too..we will see.
Besides that, not too much is going on. Working on my families compost and talking to people about Bees. Hopefully after winter I can get some Charlas (speeches) going for the committee and get people more interested in Bees. My brother here on the island is interested so that is a start. Also in May I will be working on getting my contact/host mom a anaerobic biodigestor for her  pigs so she can have free gas. That project might spread throughout the community as well because a lot of people are interested.
But for now I am living with my family helping them with normal everyday things and talking to them about projects and working on getting my house ready.
Everything is good here in Paraguay. I miss you all A LOT! I think about you all, all the time. I’m pretty sure I have told Jose so many stories that he could write a book. But he loves listening to my family stories he is usually is laughing by the end.
 I would also like to say hi to Granddaddy and Grandma since I know they read this! LOVE you both A LOT. Granddaddy I talk about you all the time to Paraguayans when I talk about bees.  J Grandma..I may attempt to make chicken and dumplings one day here for my family..Not sure. I am a little nervous about it haha! But If I do I  promise to take pictures to show you J
Love you all miss you all,
I will try to upload pictures soon!
<3 Caitlin Victoria
Ps. My whole family enjoys saying "What?" to me now..because apparently I say it alot haha

Monday, January 10, 2011

HAKU....(It is Hot!)

It is HOT in Paraguay! Especially here on the Island...It is really pretty but its also difficult for me to get around. Like there are clearly no stores (dispensas) here on the island. In most communities in Paraguay there are stores that are like connected to the families home for little things that a person would want, coke, beer, flour, bread, etc. For me I have to get in a canoa and cross the river and find such store. Seeing as I currently do not own a canoa its more difficult because it involves asking either of my two oldest siblings to row me to shore. Needless to say this does not happen very often because if I were my sibling...I would think its REALLY annoying having to row the American to shore everytime she wanted to go somewhere.
On a more positive note I did find out about a house that is available for me to stay in for the next 2 years which is nice. Its kinda big but only a one room up to par to live in so I hear. The house does need  some work like the fact that I have no bathroom or latrine which I consider an issue but I believe my other contact is going to take care of it. He kept making sure that I wanted to be in the house by March and that he needed to call the owner of the house too. Although aparently the owner never comes to the island because he is away so the house is definetly available.
Went to my first Comite meeting of Agriculturas on Saturday...that was interesting..I felt like I was sitting in a very heated PTO meeting at an elementary school...there were about 7 people (including me) which isn't very good for a comite that have i think around 20-25 people...Attendance is a normal problem in Paraguay which is sometimes why things do not get done or fall apart....I was told on Saturday that Apiculture on the Island is a back-up Goal.... BOOHISS! but I told my secondary contact that I have 2 years on the island to change that around and he said yes eventually there will be BEES!
ON another positive note, my secondary contact's wife is a school teacher...for Guarani...SCORE. She said she would teach me Guarani! YES!! That will help me so much because trying to teach myself pronuncation is like...well I hope this will happen. She is suppose to call me this week to set it up...I am giving her till Wednesday afternoon then I am making a phone
My advisor/bosses are coming to my site Feb 2nd for my site presentation and to bring all my other stuff (luggage, Batea etc) I think that will be good. I need to round up some people to come to that...
Tomorrow I am going into the office to talk to my technical adivsor about anaerobic biodigesters for my contact/host mom. This is like her dream project. To utlize all the poop from the pigs and cows to convert to gas. I am going to do everything in my power to make sure that I can help her do this...this would make her life and her families life much better..less smoke going through the whole house and less poop to deal with...healthier animals...All of the above...This is going to be my primary focus for now and trying to meet other people on the island which is much easier said than done. There are alot of people in this community who I think just don't care about anyone else but themselves...My host parents have told me that many people on the island have lost what this life is really all about being tranquilo and doing work and just trying to enjoy life. So I have a feeling that my "community" is more like my contacts and thier least for now...which I am fine with to be honest because I like being around them...
So I pretty much spend everyday with my host family, I help clean and do laundry, drink a lot of terere and teach some english to my sister, study and do research. My family on the island has my mom (contact) and dad, My sister (18), My brother (16), My other sister (10) and my other brother who i believe is technically my cousin but he is my sibling (7). So helping them do laundry does help! When I had my first interview for placement I said that it did not matter to me in what way I help the community or the family as long as I was helping which is another reason of why I think I became a first time volunteer here on the island because until people know and trust you...they are not going to be willing to change their lives in different ways from the norm where they KNOW how things work and the rountine which I totally understand. so For now Im kinda just living in Paraguay and doing some other stuff on the side..
Christmas was kinda boring. It didnt feel like Christmas most of the time...My family was really nice and I enjoyed being with them but it was hard to not want to be with MY family in the States or at least with Jose and his family. We had great asado and waited until midnight and drank some champange and watched some fireworks from san antonio and then went to sleep. New Years was the same because it rained but I was able to spend time with Jose and meet the sister from Argentina so that was nice but I still missed my family of course. Both of my families here in Paraguay try to keep tabs on me to make sure that I am not sad or missing home because they knew it would be hard which is nice.
Speaking of Jose, My wonderful boyfriend..yes I said wonderful. We talk all day through texts and sometimes call (more expensive..) and I see him every so often. I am trying to be good and stay in my site but I miss him alot and is super close (30mins away...maybe to the town and a hour walking o 25mins taxi) which is like nothing...He doesn't speak english (for now). Although he learned from me already with out me teaching it, "really?" "now?" and "oh sh*t"...ugh terrible...apparently I say this when I am running late...who knew...haha Oh well.
He is a great guy and my best friend here (besides the girls in beekeeeping). I can always count on him for anything. He makes my life here better every day :)

AND We are going to see Shakira for her first performance in Paraguay in March! SO EXCITED!!

I guess that is it for now...I need to go help to laundry because well.. there is ALOT! I miss you all! MUCHO AMOR!

Nos Vemos, Chau,
<3 Victoria

Friday, December 10, 2010

The end of training...

E’a!!! (used in Guarani to indicate Surprise, one of my Faves..)
I am sitting on my bed in my host families sorting papers and books I need for my site now and ones I can keep in storage for a while…It is fun to reflect but at the same time very sad. Both my sister and well my boyfriend were helping me and looking through my papers and things while we talked about how fast these past 10 weeks have gone by…I have had a great training experience as a whole. My tech trainer is great and my language teachers are too. I wish I could have had more weeks of training with Guarani. I have only had 3 which is like maybe 5 classes because of all the stuff we had going on…I am a little worried about trying to teach myself Guarani from now on but I do have help from my contact family in my new site, Jose, possibly another contact that is a teacher in my community more or less. Again my biggest fear is language but then again It has only been like 2 months..and my language is WAY better says my family so that is good. I still have self-doubt with it but I definitely try every single day. I ask questions and correct myself and try to use Guarani and Spanish too. This experience so far has truly been a rollercoaster. I am happy to say I have had more highs than lows and I think that is just because I kept trying and didn’t give up. That is exactly what I am going to keep doing in my new site too. I have had A LOT of fun and laughter with the Beekeeper trainees, the Crop trainees and the Environmental Education. I have spent so much time with the 9 beekeepers I am going to miss them when I am flying solo permanently. Thankfully will have a phone so I can call them and keep in touch! I’m lucky that I will live so close to my training community so I can come back and visit in the future. I have said it once and I will say it again…..I am very lucky to have the family I have here. Paraguayan culture is really well guapo and tranquillo all at the same time. These families work soo hard but are also always calm and relaxed…I enjoy it and I feel that most all trainees do.
                So about my new site..I will be living on a Isla….yes an ISLAND! The agriculture that the community is doing there is great. The soil is soo rich and the people of course are super hard-working and they want to do beekeeping!! I have only met a couple of families who are pretty much brothers of one of my contacts..I have 3 months for the settling in to start. I also found out that I may have a house available for my use which is great because I am a first volunteer in my site which is great because I am not being compared to other Americans but it is also a heck of a lot of responsibility..My contact is pretty great though so I really think I will get things done in my two years of service. The Island is beautiful. My tech trainer told me that I need to keep calling everyone not on the island..main landers lol When I told other trainees about the fact that my new site was an island they were like “WHAT? And island? In Paraguay? How did you get that???!”..I would reply…”oh..I asked for the Florida plan…” lol I get a lot of broma (jokes/ teasing) about all my florida stuff..Gators or just Florida in general. I was looking at the stuff I brought here and its like the Florida Bookstore in Paraguay it’s a little insane but whatever…got to spread the spirit especially since Florida could use some spirit right now…lol My family says I am a Florida Which let’s be’s true! Back to the site, it has electricity and running water (most of the time)…I think the electricity depends on the weather..I do have running water but for the time being I am using a latrine. This sucks when it is raining but otherwise you get over it.
                In relation to Beekeeping, I have learned A LOT claro que I said my trainer is great. I think I have been stung a total of 12 mas o menos throughout my service which in my opinion is like nothing….some trainees had experience with some angry bees and just got lit up. I am talking 25 stings or 30 stings in one hive revision. That’s a lot of stings.. For me my hand stings were the worst because I couldn’t was so annoying. Then again I wasn’t wearing gloves because I was trying to tie on comb to a panel during a trasiego (wild bee capture).  It’s difficult to do with the terrible gloves I have which I need to look into buying better ones in Asuncion…hmm. Anyways I really enjoy beekeeping its fun because literally everytime you do a trasiego or revise a hive its different, sometimes in a good way or sometimes in a bad way, so it is really never boring and they are Africanized bees so they are well less happy to see you than the Italian or Russian bee types in the States.
I cannot believe it is December…its crazy…Thanksgiving was really fun, the trainees went to the Directors house and we had turkey and stuffing and other fixings which were great. Also I was able to call Mom and Dad and chat with them for a bit which was great. I was little sad around the holiday thinking about home and my mom/grandma’s cooking but I did have a good distraction. I think Christmas will be a little tougher because I will be the only American with my site family who I don’t know too well yet but I think It will be a good experience! My training family has lights up on one of their windows. It makes me SO HAPPY, it’s like ridiculous how much those kind of things make an impact!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

New site!

Wow..I don´t even know where to life is crazy good right now. This blog will be terrible for the time being because I havent had time! But here are the facts...I will be living on island about an hour away from the capital! so cool...also really close to the town I leave outside of now during training! My host family is still really great. Also my new site family is pretty great so I am excited for the future. Also... I have a Paraguayan boyfriend. LOL yes His name is José. So I am very happy in Paraguay :) I promise to tell you all more later! with pictures!

Sunday, October 10, 2010


Greetings from Paraguay!
I have so much to say that I have no clue how to start…As you can see I am living in Paraguay. Home of the tranquillo people and Terere! So much has happened here. I live with my host family who literally is my family here. They are great. I have a mama, 3 brothers, one sister and a nephew. Seriously, God is looking out for me. My sister is 22 and works with Americans in the capital so she knows some English vocab so she helps me a lot with my Spanish y Guarani.  All my family members do actually. My nephew is the only one who looks at me like “who are you?” “Why are you in my house?” “Why are you so pale?” Although these past couple of days he has been warming up to me. He calls me “Tia Tia!” By the way, in Paraguay my name is Victoria. Caitlin is too hard to say my Paraguayan village amigos...I was Cait and then caity….but sometimes it sounds like Cat-ee which that in Guarani is something to do with odor…So ya.. I changed it although I’m pretty sure all my PCT friends’ casa's know me as the redhead one so it’s no biggie. It’s really pretty here. There are animals all over and pretty friendly people. My house has trees, lots of animals and happy crazy three year old who rides his tricycle screaming “MOTO MOTO”! Vroom Vroom! He is pretty funny. He helps take the pressure of me. Although there typically isn’t family doesn’t do the fishbowl thing..they are an experienced PCT family (I think I am their 3rd). I have had only a couple of awkward moments but nothing really bad. Mi mama is wonderful. She is constantly telling me that she is happy to have me here and that my Spanish will get better day by day. My brothers and sister say this too. I’m pretty close with my sister. When I am around her I feel like I have known her forever. We talk and gossip in Spanish.  My PCT friends are pretty great too. In the villate that I live in, there are 9 of us beekeepers (Two guys and the rest girls). In my entire training class there are 3 sectors, Environmental Ed, Ag. Crop extension, Beekeeping extension. I can honestly say that I know all 46 volunteers, 47 including myself. We are a pretty good group. I got to know a lot of them pretty quickly. My good friend Tess (fellow bee) and I were discussing today that we think it’s because all of us took on this intense challenge together and bonded like right away.  Which is great since your friends and your host familia is like your rock here.  I got extremely lucky. I thank my host placement every time she asks me about my family. I really haven’t had too much of a shock yet in Paraguay. Sure, it’s got its developing country issues and I am not in America but it’s still pretty awesome. I went to an anniversary fiesta for a local futbol team here and it was pretty fun. My sister took me and we met up with other beekeepers families (all of whom I have met).  The view of the sunset is fantastic. I will be sure to capture a picture. I know that I am in the honeymoon stage of training...adjustment wise but I am pretty happy. Even though , training is joke. You are trying to learn 2 languages, a new culture all while trying to fit in to a family, a village and hell a lifestyle and try to get ready to make that end of the tunnel.  I think the first day when I was like omgosh...what am I doing was when I wrote an email to dad the other day. That was the first time I even thought about technology or wondered what I was missing at home.  Obviously I am missing people but it wasn’t as intense until the other day. I am thankful that training is so busy with idioma, PCT stuff and host family. It allows me to be focused on the task at hand. Let’s just say that I have been in such a Paraguayan mind set...that I forgot that the Bama game was this past Saturday… ya...ya... I know...intense.  It has already been a life changing experience and I have only been here for a week…slightly ridiculous sure….but absolutely true. Sorry for the rambling or grammatical errors. Estoy MUY cansada. I love ya’ll and miss ya! Talk to you soon!
Random things I have learned/discovered/admire/find ironic:
--In Paraguay lots of people listen to music from their house so you can hear it when you walk down the road. Well in my house, my brothers really like to listen to music too. Let’s just say when I was coming home from class at my  school (two room, tiny school for my village of PCTS) I heard Lady GaGa  and some other American pop  songs. Bottom line…Gaga is everywhere.
--I have liked every food I have had (starch, meat, fruit..pretty much).  I drink café every morning with some pan (bread). Lunch is the biggest meal (coincides with the siesta).  
--I love love love Terere. It’s like yerba mate but its ice cold water.  It’s a social drink. It’s very crucial to Paraguayan tranquil life.
--I try to journal everyday so I don’t forget what happened during that day.
--They have fireflies here. Like a lot.
--There are motos (motorcycle) everywhere! There is an average of 23-28 moto accidents at day in hospitals. It’s like ridiculous because of the lack of enforced regulation and the cost effectiveness of the moto. It’s pretty dangerous.
-- The harp is a very important instrument in Paraguayan traditional bands. They play it like (as my friend Becca says) they are Jimi Hendrix. They pick it up. Move around with it and even turn it upside down. You would think it’s an electric guitar. They get really into it.
--I  say Ciao every single day
-- Everyone has a phone pretty much here. My family has cell phones. My sister texts all the time.
 -- There are animals everywhere. Vacas (cows), chickens, cats and especially dogs. Most of the dogs are not something you would choose to get close too.
--The dirt here reminds me of North Carolina.
--My Spanish is getting better all the time.