A cow traveling down the same road as me.
A cow traveling down the same road as me.
A cow traveling down the same road as me.

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

Paraguayans drink a refreshing drink multiple times a day called Terere. At first I was not a fan of it because the very first time I drank it, the individual serving it always liked drinking a very bitter type of yerba mate. Since my first experience of having the bitter terere, I have had plenty of other opportunities to try my other neighbors terere, in which they fix it using a different type of yerba mate that is

The well where we get the water for drinking terere, cooking food and washing clothes.
The well where we get the water for drinking terere, cooking food and washing clothes.

flavored with mint so it is much more pleasing to the taste buds! I also have started to love it because since it is so hot outside, this drink is served ice cold and is refreshing! Over the last month, I have grown to love drinking terere, but I’m still not a fan of mate, which is the same thing, just served hot usually in the early mornings. One saying they use here in regards to terere, is that “we drink our weed instead of smoking it”, as the yerba mate is basically a ground up holly tree.

The kitchen where food is prepared.
The kitchen where food is prepared.

I am growing accustomed to eating relatively the same food on a day to day basis. There is not much difference in flavor from one type of food to the other. They love to eat a very starchy food called mandioca or more commonly known as yuca! I think I’ve had enough mandioca to last me a lifetime already and it’s only been a month! Paraguayans aren’t big on spicy food, which is good because I’m not either. The reason they don´t add spice to their food is because they think that eating spicy food will make you horny! No joke! I thought the theory of spicy foods was so funny and I just had to laugh!

The newest mandioca/yuca/cassava crop being towered over the coconut trees.
The newest mandioca/yuca/cassava crop being towered over the coconut trees.

Even though we are volunteers, Peace Corps does pay us a small stipend to live on and so I get paid three dollars a day to live on so I have to be really thrifty with my spending. I don’t really spend a lot as I can’t really go anywhere at the moment and I am always studying, trying to learn both Spanish and Guarani so it’s not too hard to save money. When it rains here, life kind of stops because the dirt roads turn to mud and you can’t go anywhere. I have actually really enjoyed that because it’s a nice break because our classes our canceled. The other day one of my nieces was climbing on this metal door outside of their house when the ring on her middle finger got stuck. She didn’t realize it and just decided to jump down and her middle finger was ripped off. She went straight to the hospital, but they could not sew it back on. I felt really saddened by that because I

Drying our laundry after washing it.
Drying our laundry after washing it.

know not only did that really hurt her, but not having the ability to use her finger any more will be difficult. Many people try and hide certain things about their body that they don’t like and unfortunately for her, it is very difficult to hide your hands as you use them all the time for daily tasks. That same week, her granddad, (my host father), had cataract surgery on his eye so we had family members and friends visiting constantly for the next week giving condolences to both my niece and host father. Then this week, my younger niece had a cavity she had to get filled. They have been going through a lot of medical problems lately, but they are making it through. I’ve been teaching them how to play a

The outhouse bathroom next to the brick oven (tatakua).
The outhouse bathroom next to the brick oven (tatakua).

lot of North American card games and they love “spoons”! I have also learned a card game from here called “Truco”. It’s generally only played by men and they usually bet money on every game. It’s really confusing and they have so many rules and it even has its own special deck. I won’t even try to explain it because it’s really hard and it would take way to long, but it’s a really cool game so I will have to write about in depth sometime in the future!
This was actually written in 2007 and is being posted in 2017 for the first time!

Luke Keeler

 

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