*StaBiliZeD*awAkeNinG*


Its like this place has only just realised that I am here… Flurry of activity and a burst of productivity! Or maybe….. Its me thats only just realised.

Well either way, I have been given more information and instruction in the past two days then in the whole two and a half weeks I have been here. Relief.

I have been struggling with the food here for quite some time,lack of nutrition,variety and no vitamins (fruit) has had me in a bad mood with low energy. Yesterday, I communicated this to Jorge Martinez, a young guy who’s title is Vice Director of the school. He promptly took me for a wild ride on his scooter, along the stony gravel to the local veg store  to get me what I needed. A big weight off my shoulders as I was really losing a lot of weight and getting worried.

Today I had three meetings. First one was with the  director of academics Mr Tomas Sotelo who explained how he wants me to structure the lessons and what needs to be achieved by the end of the year. Great. A huge part of my being here is to teach english as that is an essential part of their curriculum.

The second meeting was with the three young people who co-ordinate and run the agriculture  production. Going through projected spreadsheets and budgets was great as I can now see what they hope to plant,grow and sell with an estimated income generated. Clarity.

The third and final meeting was unexpected and probably the most enlightening. I got a call to go and meet in the office,where I met a lady named Melissa who oversees all the schools and advises on any situation that arises. So she knows everything about anything. I asked her all the remaining questions which had been on my mind for some time and she told me the answers in perfect english. Bonus I tell you.

I now know what Im doing here! The responsibility is on me to deliver and produce for the school, the staff and most importantly the students.

All I can do is give my best,practise spanish at all times and build confidence.

Im off to the garden.

Blessings

*SniPpetS*


I have a baby frog. It lives in the drain of my shower. In Guarani a frog is called a kururu… Guarani is purely a spoken language and has only recently been written down, therefore my spelling will be unaccurate but thats how it sounds. My frog is tiny,almost transparent and only comes out at night and catches flies for dinner. I am happy he feels comfortable to be hanging out with me 🙂

I saw a wild dog get into the chicken run.  He sized up his meal and promptly annihilating the unlucky candidate with a quick dart and rapid shake of the head. Then the other chickens decided that was not cool at all and all went mad, running after the dog, jumping up and flapping at his head while trying to scratch him… Complete pandemonium. I was the only human around! So in I went and managed to get the dog out whilst keeping the chickens in. Phew. Hectic.

Today I worked in the main commercial crop zone known as la chacra. Sugar cane is the primary cash crop. Canya da Azucar. The school needs to produce 40 to 50 tons per year to turn a good profit. Thats a lot of sugar cane! We took soil samples of a large plot designated for more to be planted. Standing in amongst these 4 metre reeds (Cow feed) was awesome and machete-ing our way to the next area to get a good general range of samples to send in to the laboratory for testing.

Sometimes I wake up and there is no water to shower or brush my teeth! Then im on the wrong side of the day immediately! South Africans please note: We live in more of a 1st world country then you realise. Just because our politicians seem ridiculous and parts of the country are rural or the trains are sometimes late actually has nothing to do with it! The fact is that we have all the basic neccesities and luxuries to accomodate us. We have access to anything we want. 

What strikes me most about seeing South Africa from the outside is the variety of culture, races,languages,beliefs and religions that we have. Its a huge melting pot. In many other countries there is only one or two religions and race of people. Even though we are all one massive family (6 billion of us) and no race is 100% pure bred any more.

The fact is that in Africa we get along quite well for all our differences. There is undoubtably tension and prejudice beneath the surface but if we dont dig too deep, let each other be, then everyone will (mostly) happily get on with it. 

I strongly feel that this year of 2012 is going to radically change a lot of things.

Firstly and astrologically there will be three eclipses this year. Very rare. Then on the 21st of December the sun is going to align with the middle of the galaxy we know as the milky way. There is a “black hole” in the middle of the milky way,which is said to be the source that produces stars and planets.  The last time this happened was 26,000 years ago. The last ice age. Hmmm. Im planning on being right close to all my loved ones thats for sure!!!

Who knows… Nothing might happen or this time everything could happen.

Many religions,prophecies and calendars all agree that on the date December 21-2012 something (or many things) of great magnitude is going to happen.

We’l just have to wait and see.

Much love to the tribes of humanity, blood family and chosen family.

*KulchA*BehAvioUr*ApPeaRanCe*


Imagine jumping on a plane,closing your eyes for 11 hours,waking up, having some papers stamped,collecting your luggage,getting fetched at the airport and then all of a sudden you realise…Wait a moment! Im in South America! 

Sounds simple doesnt it. Hmmm. Well actually I am now of the opinion that it is one of the hardest and most challenging things a person can possibly and willingly do.

Especially if you dont understand the language. That translates into not being able to read street signs,magazines, listen to the news and most importantly communicate to the local population. Haha. Not funny. 

Right about now the intrepid traveller is in the thick of a commonly spoken about ‘phenomenon’ called Culture Shock…………………….

I didnt think it was as real as literally feeling like I have just been born and dont know a thing about anything! I must admit,I have been talking to the plants and animals a lot! For those who dont know me it must be noted that this is not unusual.

So,here in Paraguay when it comes to greetings,every morning you shake each persons hand,enquire how they are and if its a woman,a kiss on each cheek. That said,I dont greet each individual student every day, that would mean over 150, Hola! Que tal? como estas? per day! Nope.

Respect is earned here. They dont care if you have a B.Sc or a Phd. Show your capabilities whether its on the football pitch, working on the fields or just setting a good example and they will accept and love you.

Now one of the main points of culture is drinking ‘terere’  which is a native,local herbal concoction. It is carried in a leather bound canteen with a side pouch for the beaten silver container into which you load the herbs and pour water over. There is a specially designed straw also made from silver that is shaped like a spoon.It has been hollowed out all the way so you sip(suck) out of the end that you would usually hold. the round, concave end of the spoon/straw has little holes in it like a sieve, which allows the cold herbal water to drain through into your mouth without swallowing any bits and pieces. Clever!  

They drink this everyday,especially when its hot as it cools down your core temperature considerably. This I am very thankfull for because it is between 30 and 40 degrees everyday… Think Karoo heat with Durban humidity and you get a general idea of the climate.

I spoke briefly about the birds and trees in my last post, now I wish to tell you about the lesser seen but more felt wildlife… Mosquitos: Hundreds of them, day and night making big,itchy bumps on your skin when u least expect it, I tell you these are serious stealth ninjas. Ants… Hectic ants. many varieties that all seem to bite except the largest ones which tend to just creep you right out when they are running along your bed. Frogs are rife and come out every night for a little sing and to catch the cooler part of the day. Varying in size. One thing I am gratefull for is the lack of flies. 

Back to the people.They are mostly all a mixture of Spanish and Guarani Indian descent. They have quite fierce features,with an almost asian like quality mixed with a native American Indian. Short, compact and tough. They really stick together here. Although they are loud and expressive in certain situations (football disagreements) I cant even imagine there being a fight or aggresive behaviour between the students. All seem to bond together and while there will always be leaders and followers,there is a common unity and genuine,easy going connection between girls and boys,men and women. Its great. I believe its got something to do with the fact that most of of the population is very poor. Leaving them to rely and trust one another.

Side note: Money only makes you happy if you base your reality on it. And even then its not sustainable. Its a man made illusion and pretty much worthless.Most of the ‘poor’ countries out there have the happiest people. More on this perspective and train of thought to come later. 

I have experienced small measures of their kindness, a pat on the back here and there,a smile with a joke and a twinkling eye or an invite to come watch T.V and to play pool. As we begin to understand each other I can see these interactions will grow in meaning and stature. 

It has to be said, they cant really fathom why someone from South Africa (where’s that? Oh they had the fifa 2010 world cup there!) would come to their small,third world country to teach them English. Huh? Who needs to know English in South America? Well,in fact these kids are privileged that their school directors know that English is the worldwide business and communication language and 80% of google information is in English.

Just like anywhere in the world, I have seen that there are people here who are cast in certain moulds or stereotypes.The mischevious jokers, the deep thinkers, the easy going ones, the self conscious ones, stubborn,   happy, melancholy, quiet, loud, confident, nervous and the list goes on.The only difference I can discern lies in their attitude and respect toward each other. Even though I have not been to all the countries in the world, I feel like this is leading me to conclude (prematurely, I feel obliged to add) that all humans, no matter their background are inherently the same. I am very honoured to be sharing in the way of life with these people.

They teach me more everyday. I hope to enrich their schooling experience and share with them as much goodness as i can pass on while I am here.

*EnVironMenT*


I would like to paint or describe a picture of the world I am now in.

Waking up at half 5 adds a lot of hours to the day! We have breakfast at 7 which consists of very sweet milky tea in jugs, bread rolls and sometimes a delicious pudding type of sponge cake. I am in the garden by half past 7,either weeding,preparing beds,planting seeds/seedlings, clearing pathways or watering and composting amongst other activities.

There is an extremely colourful and abundant mix of birds and butterflies, ranging from green to yellow,purple to orange and even one type that has black, red and white markings. very cool. The trees……….WOW. Mango’s reaching 10-15 metres up, massive fig,avo’s,mulberries and guava tree’s who let their ripe fruit fall with a hearty thump as it hits the ground without so much as a bruise or a soft spot… TROPICAL GOODNESS.

So here’s a little story: there is a conference on at the school for all the “functionarios” from around Paraguay who work for the foundation and run the 3 schools. Each day after the meetings there is a a footy match organised between the staff and the various dignitaries attending the workshop. I was priveliged to play yesterday with a group of much older but very skilled guys who it seemed were testing my mettle and capabilities.

 6 players a side is intense,alot of running and passing. so the first half I was abit off the pace, nursing a foot injury from a previous game and not having broken through the huffing and puffing barrier.Second half i received some advice on the game plan and to exert ‘Fuerza’ (force) on the opposition.So,st about doing this and after getting into my stride and a good rhythm, I found myself about 5 metres from the opposing teams goal with a nicely curling cross from the corner heading toward me, I took one step back,jumped and fly kicked with all my might and the ball went bulleting to the left of the keeper who made a diving save and the ball glanced off the post,back into play between two defenders and right in my path so i followed up with the sweetest timed connection,leaving the keeper no chance as it bent perfectly into the top right corner 🙂 My team mates went ballistic! My first goal in Paraguay and the best possible game to score it in! Stoked. We won the match and six quart sized beers.

As a result of this performance on the pitch I got invited by the general manager of Fundacion Paraguaya Luis Fernadez, to have dinner with the ‘functionarios’ that evening. A great honour. So I arrived at the big out door boma a long and high structure with a roof and open all around, at 8pm the same evening. A chef had a big braai going with all kinds of meat imaginable and a big variety of traditional Paraguayan side dishes at hand. About 10 minutes after chatting,greeting and dishing up an enormous meal, the sound of a spanish guitar is heard drifting through the trees, with a deep,rich and voluminous voice, it then materialises into a musician who proceeds to serenade all of the woman and get the men to sing along to these beautiful songs about Paraguay,love,broken hearts etc etc. 

It was a night I will never forget. These experiences are why we take our selves out of our comfort zone. Out of everything we have ever known. Expansion of the mind. There is no limit to what experience can teach us. I am learning this after jumping right in at the deep end. My spanish has improved so much i can understand about 70-80% of what they are saying and am up to about 50% on my speech level. Its a beautiful unfolding of new capabilities and realisation of self capacities and even though its really tough sometimes it can only be for my benefit in the long run.

Miss family,friends home and all that is in my heart. Lots of love to all.

Blessed be the journey.

Escuela de Agriculo Autosuficiente.


Greetings from Paraguay!

I arrived at the capital city named Asuncion on the 12th of january.

Waiting in the baggage collection area was the director of Fundacion Paraguaya and a very well known and respected man in Paraguay (he was the mayor of Asuncion for 5 years) a very special man named Dr. Martin Burt.

He took me to his family home,a big and beautiful colonial style house with massive mango trees and all types of wonderous tropical plants in the garden. The family made me feel very welcome and generously shared all the local and general knowledge they thought would be pertinent to me .

After sleeping off the jet lag for about two days and getting my bearings, I was invited to a typical family lunch on saturday at Martins mothers house. this commenced slowly and i vaguely knew what was going on until the rest of the brothers and sisters,kids,aunts and uncles arrived whereupon everyone started ‘speaking’ very loudly and heatedly about what appeared to be normal topics of conversation. “Bienvenidos a Paraguay” or  “Welcome to Paraguay”. Wow, I think thats when the culture shock really hit. HARD. So i survived the lunch without bursting out laughing or crying, because i really had no idea what was going on!

 That afternoon,Martin took me through to the Agriculture School which is 40k’s out of the city where I met a guy my age named Jorge Guerero who is the director of agriculture at the school. It is incredibly beautiful,lush and very hot! The school buildings are very old but well kept and clean. Jorge took me directly to the football pitch. I played an awesome game of footy with him and the students, setting up goals and controlling the midfield 😉 “Bravo” was shouted many a time!

So after the game i made my way back to my small cabin and unpacked my clothes and few belongings to make home for the next year.

Since then i have had ups and downs,missing family,friends and home familiarity and in particular my lovely lady.

I am settling in well though and have only been here for 5 days. My spanish is improving bit by bit(poco a poco) and dont believe anyone who says its easy! in fact i believe its one of the hardest languages to learn as you have to conjugate almost all the verbs,changing them to be masculine or feminine and also if you’re saying ” I, you, they, we” etc…Never mind the adjective coming AFTER the noun!

I am hard at work in the fields and the gardens (la huerte) and loving being in the soil and plants again. I begin teaching english at the beginning of Feb.

So there we have it,the adventure and learning curve is underway and I am fine and well in a totally new country I never expected to cross paths with, never mind live in! I will write more as soon as my head is all together 🙂