Today I showed up to my community presentation looking more like a gremlin than a human; much less a human who was supposed to be dressed in business casual and ready to impress and convince the masses of what skills I had to offer them (The community presentation is something that all volunteers have individually, where lots of community members are invited and one of my bosses came to better explain Peace Corps, my role in the community, etc.).
I began to worry when I walked out of my bedroom at 5:30am to lots of rain (It should be included that Paraguayans generally don’t go out at all in the rain—often not to work, definitely not to school, etc. Much of this can be attributed to the dirt roads that quickly become impassable with a little bit of rain, and the rest, I suppose, is that it has just become the cultural norm even in places where there are now paved roads) As the rain trickled on I discussed the possibility of going into the city with my host sister in a taxi, who in the end opted to ride her moto into town. So I left for my 4-kilometer walk into town during what seemed like a lull in the rain, solita and weighed down by bags carrying a change of clothes and a large Tupperware full of mini-cheesecakes.
Within 30 seconds on the road it began to pour harder than it had at any point that morning and I scanned my brain for who I could call directly in the U.S. from my cell phone. I realized it would be 6am there and no one would be prepared to give me a convincing pump-up speech at that hour of the day. So I had no choice but to ride the wave of the *“Come on, Eileen” dance party pump up I had attempted prior to departure.
Upon my arrival others looked minor to majorly concerned about my gremlin-like appearance, but I ran to the bathroom and did my best to arreglarme (fix myself/put myself in order). The rain lightened up and with the 40-minute delay in start time more people began to trickle in. Additionally the students who attend the teacher-training course of the Institute (where I held my event) boosted attendance and helped to fill up the room.
The man who gave the opening words from the institute began by saying that Paraguay is an agricultural nation and they believe that rains at the beginning of a season are a sign of a prosperous harvest to come, so today’s weather could only be promising for my service. That was particularly sweet and reassuring to hear.
My part of the presentation went well where I talked about my family and some of my previous experiences. A student and employee of the institute closed the event with a few musical numbers singing and on guitar. They were quite good!
I spent all day Wednesday preparing treats for the mini-reception we had after the presentation. Paraguayans often seem wary of women who don’t possess amazing domestic skills (and are slow to believe that gringas do). So I did my best to prove my worth through mini strawberry cheesecakes, peanut butter pies, cornbread, and vanilla and chocolate brigadeiros—they were well received.
I’m moving houses again on Sunday and have lots of other things I could include here, so I’ll be sure to write soon.
*My brother and I once discovered that we had separately been using Come on, Eileen as our go to pump up song for quite some time. It was then that I decided that pump up songs (along with profuse sweating abilities) are in fact genetic.