I envy hips that shake out salsa moves and other such beats naturally. I’ve been saddled with the lot of trying to overcome my stiff, robotic Chinese girl movements and sub-par coordination for the rest of my life (not to say that every Chinese girl is a putz like me). Alas.

On that note, I think I often wrongly assume that since Paraguay is a Latin country, there are certain moves and rhythms that are just…inherent. Not so. Take, for example, the apparently not-so-simple tasking of clapping on time during Sunday morning worship. Cultural shock #3 when I moved here.

There is absolutely no regard for neither clapping on the dominant beat nor clapping in unison as a congregation. It is so dissonant and chaotic, it almost becomes melodic. Just kidding, I wish. It kills me every time. I have to forcibly shift my amazement each week so as not to get carried away in my distraction.

So. Imagine trying to teach a large grab bag group of English students, aged toddler to mature mother, a rhythm-based clapping game (not my idea). Yeah. It didn’t work. So we went with homemade lasagna and fruit punch instead.

Happy Winter Break! English School is out until August. Clap clap…clap.

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Readjustment back to Asuncion has been slow-going and emotional. After a honeymoon of a month experiencing only and all of the best home has to offer, being in landlocked Paraguay again feels like a prison sentence. It has been difficult to return to isolation, loneliness, and mosquitoes. At least the weather has been cooler.

To be honest though, the most agonizing part about being here is the long-distance–which is hard for me to admit because I’m afraid it sounds like I don’t know how to exist without my boyfriend. I don’t want to be that girl. I want to know that beyond my relationship status, I possess independence and strength as an individual. That I can survive and thrive as Lo, not just…B-Lo.

But instead of honing those instincts, it seems like long-distance has only proven how miserable I am at this game. I am insecure and needy and have developed serious attention-hoarding tendencies. It doesn’t help that the most common question here in Paraguay is, “Aren’t you afraid he’s going to meet someone else?” Of course, I worry about that, but no, it won’t happen, and what a terrible thing to ask even if culturally legitimate.

Being apart sucks.

It is unfair that our lives have to be so completely different and so geographically separated for so long. It is exhausting to miss someone every day for weeks and weeks and weeks on end and get very little opportunity for relief. Come December, B and I will have spent less than a total of two weeks together over fifteen months’ time. A dismal reality.

Time differences, choppy internet connections, and tough conversations via computer take their toll. Hard days are harder when all I can do is stare helplessly at the screen and send useless mental hugs, or wish B were here with me to hold my hand.

I realize that God has clearly called both of us to our respective places for specific purposes I don’t have the foresight to understand now. I know it is refining and character building. I know that I still have a lot to learn. I know the struggle is not in vain. And I know that nothing good gets away.

But it’s still hard.

 

…are we there yet?

Breakfast for dinner!

Breakfast is definitely my favorite meal of the day, followed by brunch as a close second. Thick Belgian waffles, smoked salmon benedicts on toasted croissants, savory crepes oozing with melty cheese and spinach, hash brown burritos with sour cream and sausage…sweet sunrise, I’m famished now. Thank goodness, I’m no longer detoxing with fruits and vegetables (that was ridiculous torture, ugh).

Since I am not at all a morning person (consider yourself warned) and sleep usually takes precedence in the case of any extra minutes, I don’t always eat breakfast. The glory that is brinner is my solution to that trade-off, and craving something breakfasty, I decided to subject my cooking class minions to said phenomenon for my benefit. Moohaha.

Enter banana pancakes and yet another culinary revelation for chums who could barely wrap their minds around the word “panqueques.” I didn’t even bring syrup into the picture (mostly because you can’t get it here and I didn’t feel like making it).

Making them take notes during my lesson on fractions.

Writing down the list of ingredients.

Everyone gets a turn!Teresa.

Ruth.

Josefina.

Juan Carlos.

Simon.

Tara.

Yessica.

And even the crazy teacher herself.

To be burned at the stake.

The festival of San Juan originally began as a Catholic tradition in Spain, celebrating John the Baptist and the European summer solstice, an intentional combination of both the religious and the “profane.” I think. This is what I seem to have gathered from random websites that include Wikipedia and an assortment of Paraguayan verbal explanations, none of which corroborated. Take the reliability of my historical information and sources in this entry with a grain of salt.

In Paraguay, the celebration has become more cultural than religious with various Guarani traditions (ask me to name them and I couldn’t give you even one; it has been a confusing weekend), so as a result, Mi Esperanza sponsored a second annual carnival-type venture in an effort to reach our neighborhood and community.

It was quite the spectacle.

Whoever was DJing came with a five-song track that self-repeated over four hours on both nights. I heard Besame seventeen million times and it is no longer one of my favorite songs.

One of the kid’s games was Knock the Pyramid, complete with a tower assembled of taped toilet paper rolls. Resourceful.

The concept of accumulating tickets to trade in for better prizes (of which toothbrushes are¬†totally desirable–I’m not even being sarcastic), was unfathomable. I made that speech hundreds of times to no avail.

A little sleepy nugget came and asked, “It fine I sit on your lap, Big Lowen?” and promptly fell asleep under my moose hat.

And a stuffed dummy labeled with the name of a politician who played a key role in the recent impeachment of the Paraguayan president (more about that confusing mess later) was set on fire at the end of the first night.

Ah, yes. We are in Paraguay.

The beginnings.

Setting up our prize booth.

Lining up for the games.

Sack races!

The antlers hide a small snoozing snugglebug. <3

*Apologies for the low-quality photos. My camera abhors the night.