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Walking to my host families house in Santo Domingo!

I wrote this in an email to my parents 10 years ago when I was serving in the Peace Corps in Paraguay.

I’ve been in Paraguay for a week now and it is a little bit of an adjustment, but it helps to be here with other Peace Corps Trainees.  We flew into Asuncion, the capital of Paraguay, where the Peace Corps headquarters is.  Then we went to the training facility in Guarambare to meet the training staff.  It’s about 45 minutes south of Asuncion.  This will be our main training facility and we will meet there at least twice a week.  That same night they took us to meet our host families. Mine lives in the district of Villeta in a smaller town outside of Guarambare, called Tacuruty and they live in a very small community called Santo Domingo/Inmaculada.  From the main training center it’s about a 30 minute bus ride and then a 50 minute walk down dirt roads.  We each are staying with our own host family, which is

Sugar Cane is a staple crop of Paraguay!

really nice.  Mine is very big and are so wonderful.  I have a Father, Mother, Sister, Brother-in-Law, two nieces and one nephew, plus other family members and friends who are always visiting.  My father is a farmer, so they have every type of animal you can imagine and also grow vegetables and fruit (I have fresh fruit juice every day; DELICIOUS!!).  The first day I was there and my niece was showing me the outhouse/latrine, my nephew was climbing all around and fell into a huge pile of crap that the cow had just dispensed of.  It was really funny!  The stable area kind of surrounds the cow area and the animals just kind of wonder all over their property.

The stable area where the cows spend the night!

The area I live in is pretty remote, but it is so beautiful because the colors are so vibrant.  From all the bright red dirt roads to the blue sky with white clouds and the green palm trees.  I never imagined there would be palm trees here, but it is a sub-tropical climate and so far has been extremely HOT, it feels like over 100° F with a humidity of 80-90%.  Never again will I complain about the humidity in North Carolina and Kentucky.  As most everyone knows, I hate to sweat when I’m just sitting around, but it seems like I’m never dry.  I’m always soaked in my own sweat.  All I can say is

Newly born ducklings!

I’m so thankful for the shade.  Now I know why most Paraguayans sit in the shade all day and drink their Terere (cold mate) because it’s too hot to do anything else.  I’m going to have to do my laundry all the time because I sweat through everything so fast.  My niece taught me the proper way to wash my clothes by hand because I was doing it completely wrong and she would go behind me and tell me that isn’t clean enough and make me do it again.

Some of the children in Santo Domingo!

I have language classes every day which is great because I have a lot to learn because almost everyone in Paraguay speaks Spanish, Guarani and Jopara; a mix of Spanish and Guarani.  After three months of training I have to be at a certain level and pass a test in both Spanish and Guarani to be sworn in as a Peace Corps Volunteer.  I’ve got a lot to learn

Overhead view of Guarambare!

and a lot of studying to do (they give us so much work to do), but I’m pretty sure I can do it.  My family gave me one of their rooms all to myself which is very nice, but it’s such a sacrifice for them because their other rooms are so crowded.  I sleep with a mosquito net because there was a large Dengue Fever outbreak recently.  The mosquitoes are pretty bad in the mornings until noon and around sunset.  I put insect repellent on all the time, but I’ve still gotten bit especially when I play soccer with the locals.  Even though I put the repellent on, I sweat all of it off, but so far no fever problems!!!

This was actually written in 2007 and is being posted in 2017 for the first time!

Luke Keeler