Yesterday marked the end of our first month in Paraguay. I am shocked and dismayed when I think of how quickly it passed! I can’t believe how fast the time passed. What’s happened here in the past month? Here’s a snapshot for posterity:
- The weather has been schizophrenic, as befits the middle of winter. We weathered a huge lightning and thunderstorm our second weekend here as well as a cold front that brought snow to Buenos Aires for the first time in 80 years. The weather now is cold and wet. I’ve been told that the winter season this year is colder than is typical for Paraguay. Right now the weather is cold and wet. Our house exacerbates the situation, because the floors are tile throughout, keeping it cool in the hot summer–and freezing in winter! We put down some rugs but they don’t cover much floor space. The room-by-room heating system is running full bore in the rooms we occupy. Thank goodness we haven’t been through a power outage yet. I hear that they are quite common in Asuncion.
- We haven’t used the swimming pool yet, but we’re enjoying the bananas. We have a small pool — maybe 9′ x 12′. It will be a godsend in the hot summer, we’re told, but right now it’s sitting unused. Pool care and maintenance reminds me of cleaning a large fish tank. We don’t drain it because the weather usually stays warm enough to enjoy it year round, but it still needs to be maintained. Thank goodness we finally hired a gardener to upkeep the yard, the pool, and the banana tree. Ah, the banana tree, my pride and joy. The previous owner, who brought the tree in from Venezuela, planted it about five years ago. It’s large and has/had six stalks with bananas, about 600 bananas in total. I e-mailed him, and he instructed me on banana tree care and harvesting techniques. We’ve started a queue whereby we cut a “hand” of green bananas from the tree (a bunch), wrap it in newspaper, store it in a dark place to let it cure naturally, and eat them when ready. There are so many that some have turned brown, so those become the ingredients for smoothies and banana bread. I plan to bring bunches of bananas to work as well. I think we’ll get really tired of bananas.
- Our son is now in school. We visited several schools and decided to put him into the American school here. School started last Monday. He’s having a bit of trouble adjusting, because he’s the only foreign student in his class. The others are Paraguayan. A couple of his peers are Chinese- or Korean-Paraguayan, but they are Paraguayan in all but ethnicity. I think he’ll be fine in the long run; he’s just shy for now. A Paraguayan nanny/maid will soon starting working for us full time and will take care of him after school, so between his fellow Paraguayan students and the nanny, he should adapt to the local culture and language (Spanish and Guarani) in no time.
- My wife stays at home, although she may be close to finding a great full-time job. I can’t comment any more than that because I don’t want to jinx her chances, but we’re optimistic that she will find work in the next six months or so. In a place like Paraguay, where jobs are scarce, that is quite a feat indeed. In the meantime, she has been a trooper getting us settled in at home. She’s more than ready for the maid to start so that she doesn’t have to domesticate so much. It doesn’t help that our home is prone to collecting dust (e.g. tile floors) and that we don’t have a dishwasher (not common in Paraguay).
- I’m as busy as ever, spending more time at work than I expected. I was surprised to find how busy it is here in Asuncion. Life here is typically described as “sleepy, boring, slow-paced, relaxing.” That has not been our experience thus far. You can see it in the fact that I’ve hardly blogged since I arrived. Right now, I probably should do other things, including some evaluations I need to write for work, but I need a break. Still, I do sense that life has slowed down a bit since we first arrived. We’ve set up all our basic needs–Internet, international calling (Skype), getting our car, finding a church home, getting our son in school, arranging our personal effects in the home. We still have a lot to do, but it’s getting done, slowly but surely. I really do hope that life will be more relaxing here than it’s been so far.
- We set aside the next few holidays between now and the end of the year to do some traveling. We made the mistake in Korea of not traveling outside Korea as much as we could. We’re not going to make the same mistake in Paraguay. We’re tentatively planning trips in the next three months to the Amazon (Manaus, Brazil), Macchu Pichu, Peru, and Tierra del Fuego, Argentina. We won’t travel much between next December and May, so we want to do it now. We have the time–we need to save the money. The trips won’t be cheap! Still, it will be nice to travel again, because I haven’t been further than 45 kilometers outside Asuncion along the Trans-Chaco Highway. I’ve barely seen this huge continent (yet).