Tembiapora, Caaguazu, 7.19.08 - I am sitting on the banks of the Yguazu River listening to Reasonable Doubt on Tim's iPod. Thankg God for it. It's just me, Aurelio (language teacher) and Pimpo (Peace Corps driver/employee) - the others crossed the river on the barge to Tembiapora to meet up with Kyle (PC volunteer) and the others that went to visit him. My stomach has been unbelievable to' up all day I didn't want to chance adding sea sickness onto it so I elected to stay on this side. We left Tavapy 2 around 10 this morning.
The last two days in "The Dos" were great. Wednesday we hung out in the morning and then went over to Na Blanca's to make sopa paraguaya and have lunch. I helped grind up some of the corn and did all of the mixing :-). For lunch we had tallarines and chicken, which was tough as all hell to chew, and they gave me the breast too which was even tougher. If I am not mistaken, this means that we were eating an older male chicken. Nevertheless, the food was good. After we went back to Dres' and chilled out for a little then started preparing the seeds to plant the abonos verdes. This are types of trees that farmers can plant whose leaves replenish the soil's nutrients when they fall and decompose. Once the trees are full grown, it virtually eliminates the need for fertilizer, thereby preventing the farmers to have to spend money on chemical fertilizer. Initially intended as a demonstration for the farmers, it ended up being them planting them and talking to us about them, which was great. Nothing like unintended experiential learning, I tell you.
After we planted them we walked around what was left of the Atlantic rainforest with the two coop members (also known as "socios" in Spanish) and then headed back to the crib. While removing the skin from a coconut that Dres gave her, Pooja cut herself and kirked out ("flipped out", for those of you unfamiliar with DC slang). Apparently she doesn't do well when she sees blood. While the cut did bleed quite a bit, her reaction was way more dramatic than necessary. I proceeded to dress the wound and then she went and cooled out in the hammock. Crisis averted! lol. When I got back to Feliciano's later in the evening, the grandkids were watching Titanic on the computer in my room. They had just started and I didn't have the heart to kick them out, so we were up until about 11.
We spent the next morning putting the finishing touches on the planning session we were leading with the socios on the future community center, which was something very important to the socios. Around 10:30 we headed to Tim's host family's house for lunch. Before lunch, however, we walked around the family farm. A stream runs through parts of the farm, so the family had built two noteworthy, home-made bridges ("puentes caseros") to cross from one side to the other. One was a big tree trunk thrown across two banks with a thin metal cable with which to steady oneself. The other, which was more out of an Indiana Jones movie (Temple of the Lost Ark, maybe?), had planks of bamboo strewn across two wire cables connecting one bank to the other. The bridge was definitely not new, as evidenced by a number of semi-wide spaces between some of the planks. I prayed and then crossed.
More tallarines for lunch, relaxing in chairs eating tangerines and then back to the spot. The brainstorming session began around 2:30 pm and it turned out quite well. I was in charge of the introductory icebreaker, which I did primarily in Guarani. Yay Sasha. The socios threw out some great ideas for the community center, all of which we got on paper. For the rest of the day we laid around Dres' crib and later in the evening, just as I was getting ready to head back to the homestead, Na Blanca and the crew came over to make dinner. With some direction from Pooja, they even made an Indian-style dish with peas and potatoes and other signature Indian ingredients. Dres even threw in some curry he bought in the Western part of the country near the border with Brazil. Needless to say I punished it and then headed home. Since it was the last night, I sat up and chopped it up with the host fam while they of course gave me more food. You can probably guess what it was - TALLARINES (shocker)! We talked about things back in the States, my family (at which time I whipped out the pics), and how badly the town needed a community center. And also the inadequacy of the nearby medical center - many poor people, they said. I also reminded them that I was leaving the following morning - they couldn't believe it and asked when I was coming back. Too bad I couldn't stay on with them, they said. I agreed and said that hopefully I would come back soon. With that I retired to my quarters. If only the next day could've begun as peacefully as that day ended.
I was jolted awake around 4:45 am by crazily unbelievable stomach pains. I laid awake in bed waiting to see if they improved so I could go back to sleep. Womp, womp, as my friends and I say. Much to my horror, they got worse until it was evident that I was not going to get away with not doing some major biznis in the latrine. Christ have mercy, I thought to myself. I grabbed my flashlight and toilet paper and made a mad dash for the rancid inferno before I ended up messing on the floor in my room. Once inside, I hurriedly took of my sweatpants and slung them over the door so as to avoid any mishaps on the clothes. I hung my toilet paper on the hook and, with my flashlight, made sure I was aiming correctly so I didn't have any casualties on my feet. I then squatted over the hole, steadying myself on either side on the small wooden shelter. While normally the stomach pains would've subsided after relieving myself, this time was not one of those cases. I repeated this same grueling exercise three more times. The last two times I was squatting I tried to get up and caught the ill cramp in my left hip - it was not a good look AT ALL! I ended up having to put both hands on the ground in front of me while crouched down, then lean forward and push up as if I were stretching. Talk about an ordeal. After the fourth time I was finally able to go back to sleep around 5:15. If I ever have to go through something like that again, I pray that I have access to a modern toilet or, if not, a latrine with a seat so I don't have to crunch up my stomach and damn near dislocate my hip in the process. Jesus Christ have mercy!