Friday, September 26, 2008


Blowing out my candles
My ladies - Na Nidia, Na Nelly (with whom I lived ) and Na Inma
Singing Feliz Cumpleanos

Valenzuela, Cordillera, 8.26.08 - So today was my first birthday spent out of the country and away from my family and friends. When I went to sleep last night, I said to myself that the day would either be miserable and mediocre or really great. Thank God that it was the latter.

The celebration started last weekend when I went to visit Paulette in the good Yataity. Beautiful little town - the people live well too. Her little casita is so cute. There was also a little black Brazilian lady - the first one I'd seen in Paraguay - who ran a bar/restaurant/convenient store in town. We went there to eat on Friday night and Saturday afternoon before heading out to visit another PCV in a nearby town. Please believe she is a good cook too, I murdered all of the food.
So anyway, we left Yataity and headed to Villarica after lunch. I had heard about Brennan's laid-out living situation, but seeing it was a whole different story. First of all, the neighborhood could've been in Florida or California, lots of nice houses. The PCV lives in a compound owned by a former Colonel during the Stroessner dictatorship who is now a physical education teacher at a local school. He is also something of an expert on any number of subjects. In the compound there's the main house where "El Coronel" lives with his wife and then three other smaller houses around a central courtyard. Please believe that these fools also have a POOL, albeit empty but still, the principal of which is enough.We hung out and drank terere and then once Stu, another PCV, arrived, we walked around town. There are some sick houses around too. I finally bought a hair dryer, one of the Gama professional ones, for about $25 - much less than what I'd seen it for previously. Stu headed out on a date with a volunteer from the Korean peace corps-type organziation known as COICA, while the rest of us hung out at the crib playing Spades. Yes, that's right, Spades. How I had missed it - though I must say it wasn't quite the same as when I'd played it back home in folks' backyards, basements and sitting rooms. It was fun nevertheless. We then went out for pizza, which took so long to arrive that I asked the dude if they needed help in the kitchen or something. After pizza we came back and I took a nap from about 9:30 to 12:30 before going out. And of course the pizza would have torn up my stomach as usual, but I was not fazed. I peeled myself out of bed and got myself together; we eventually headed to the club around 2am. Apparently the doors don't even open until midnight. It was a lot of fun - the music was on point and I was very happy to drop it down to the ground. We stayed until about 4:30 am. I woke up a few hours later and caught the bus back to Valenzuela around 9:30, finally arriving home at 1:30.

So today was a great day. I received my first birthday text from Mama in Aveiro at about 6am, followed throughout the day by other greeting from Aveiro, the G-27 crew and back home. I talked to Lil' Mommy and Daddy, then drank some terere with my people, followed by a lunch of my favorite pork chops, rice salad, yuca and sopa paraguaya. In the afternoon we went into town, where I hung out with the socias, ate some cake (not the official birthday cake, but still good) and checked on some housing possibilities.

I came back with the 4pm bus, stopping by Dora's on the way back to chop it up for a bit. Na Inma even drove by on her wat to my house; we then headed over. We hung out in the yard for a bit, drank terere, and then I was told to go over to the gazebo and found that they had set up birthday cake and my beloved hot chocolate! They sang happy birthday in Spanish, we ate cake and drank hot chocolate and then everyone headed home. I had no idea they had done all of that! Truly a pleasant surprise. I watched my beloved telenovela, Marina, at 6pm and received the last call of the day from Ashli. A happy birthday indeed.

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