My name is Mario Machado. I am a recent Penn State graduate who has just left for a two-year stint in the Peace Corps. I will be working with local communities in rural Paraguay, implementing sustainable agricultural and subsistence systems. For the next 27 months I will be blogging at OrganicGardening.com with information about my experience, my work, and my impressions of the rich fabric that is Paraguayan life and culture. It should be an adventure—one that will certainly change my life. Any questions or comments are greatly appreciated, and I will try my best to post and respond in a timely fashion (internet connection, weather conditions, and state of malarial delirium permitting). And so, without further ado, welcome to Paraguay!
Well…not exactly. I have not reached the heart of South America yet. Instead, I will be sitting in a hotel room in Miami, Florida, for the next two days. There will be an orientation for Peace Corps volunteers all day Thursday. Then it’s a midnight flight to Buenos Aires, Argentina, a brief layover, and then on to Asunción, capital city of Paraguay.
At this point, I have definitely realized that I am already over my head. When I first arrived in Miami, I heard a man say to his friend, “In Miami, if you don’t speak Spanish, forget about it,” and he is not mistaken. It seems that all I have heard since I de-planed is rapid-fire Spanish—even from a Bangladeshi cabbie and an African doorman. Tomorrow I will buy a Spanish-English dictionary, which should serve me well until I get to my village in Paraguay, where they won’t speak much Spanish at all, but instead Guaraní (a language I have no familiarity with).
Things are already shaping up to be quite interesting and I haven’t even left the continental United States yet. I am one day in and already revisiting everything that I have stuffed into two large duffle bags, convinced that I have forgotten something vital (such as a Spanish-English dictionary). I can take some comfort in the fact that, at least for the moment, I have a nice view of a golf course and a beautiful lake (although, its peculiar shape seems an indication that it too is man-made) and a soft bed to sleep on. For the next two years, it’s going to be a sleeping bag, a yoga mat, and a shower every so often. After long days in the field, I get to fetch my water from a well and experiment with my “drop-toilet” technique (I won’t go into details but I am sure you catch my drift). Here goes nothing.
Until next time,