¿Extrañas a tu pueblo?
That’s one of the more frequent questions I get in Paraguay, usually right after ¿Te hallas en Paraguay? Are you enjoying/do you enjoy Paraguay? (For all of you Spanish speakers out there, example 1 of why Paraguayan Spanish is strange).
Is there a check yes for both box?
Paraguayans, relieved to hear that you are both enjoying it here and miss your family, once again try and wrap their brain around why a 23-year-old Estadounidense girl wanted to leave her family and the perks of her previous life behind for Paraguay. What’s more is I had the audacity to do it during my prime husband-finding and baby-making years!
I imagine their inner thoughts to resemble something of Jerry Seinfeld’s bit on racehorses: “That was the longest possible route we could take. Why didn’t we just stay here? We would’ve been first!” In this case, their idea of a first place prize includes a comfortable existence in some American suburb, complete with excellent air quality, decent schools, smiling blond children, air conditioning, escalators and peanut buter.
I have to admit, there are times when I ask myself the same question. Like during the small red ant invasion of my bed last night. Or when I talk to my sister and hear that she went out dancing last night and is going to a concert tonight (she assures me her life is not normally this exciting). Right now my Fridays and Saturdays for the next two years seem like they will be relegated to reading/watching movies solita. In Paraguay there are a lot of beliefs about what women should do/not do and when, and we received some harsh warnings that if we broke these social norms we may lose respect in our communities, and therefore our ability to do good work. One wrong move (like going out at night, associating with the wrong people, etc.) and a woman can earn herself a reputation as a mariposa de la noche (“Butterfly of the night,” a phrase meaning prostitute). That’s definitely something I’m looking to avoid, so for now I guess I’ll have to be satisfied with watching The Wire :)
With all of this extra time I finally was able to open my Peace Corps Community Economic Development Reader, to find this quote on the first page:
“The real healings and renewals in human life occur in individual lives, not in the process of adjusting or changing their institutions. These are not the superficial revolutions by which people change their politics; they are the profound metamorphoses that occur when we ‘rectify our hearts.’ No matter what laws or governments say, we can only know and come to care for one another by meeting face to face, arduously, and by the willing loss of comfort.”
So, I guess here’s to being uncomfortable for the next two years…and I don’t meant the red-ants-in-your-bed kind of uncomfortable.