Lost in Translation.

August 31, 2012

Last week, we had some new people show up for English classes, two of whom were placed in my Intermediate class. An understated M briefly introduced himself and then bubbly N enthusiastically gave us a complete rundown on her life. I swear they also said they were cousins.

But then this week, in the middle of a riveting discussion about summertime apparel and possessive pronouns, M started lovingly stroking N’s neck. It was all I could do in that awkward moment to hope to goodness they were no longer cousins, and continue refreshing the class of the term “flip-flops.” And later, N, who I thought was in her mid-30s, revealed she was only 24 years old.

So much being lost in translation (weird Bill Murray movie, by the way).

Here are some pictures from the interns’ first day of English classes:


August Absence.

August 29, 2012

Our beauteous group effort of a Thai salad.

There has been a severe dearth of activity here on the blog not for want of happenings but because I have been really, really, really busy. Aside from my packed schedule of routine ministry responsibilities, I have also been apartment hunting–initially with discouragingly little success, dealing with the insolvency of Pluna Airlines and my next 90-day exit requirement, and preparing for two college interns set to stake out Paraguay until December. It has been an absolute whirlwind of frenetic scurrying and consecutive days of long work hours.

Fortunately, as chaotic as life has been, things are slowly starting to take a more organized shape. There will be news to come on my big move this weekend (I found a little house!), and certainly additional entries come September when I take a trip to Peru that has fallen into place like a dream. As well, the interns arrived on Monday and have already embarked on the journey that is adjusting to Paraguay.

On a personal note, after living alone this whole year, it has been so nice having other people in the apartment. Days pass by significantly livelier and less lonely, and walking around town has become a much less stressful venture.

Cheers to staying busy, new friends, and exciting plans on the horizon.

A beauteous sight.

After sour green mangoes, strawberries are definitely my next favorite fruit. So red and juicy and delicious, particularly when drizzled with sweetened condensed milk.

Imagine my delight then when strawberry heaven unfolded before my eyes. Stands and stands and stands and stands and…more stands hawking millions of kilos of fresh strawberries, strawberry plants, strawberry liquor, strawberry cakes, and myriad variations of other strawberry sweets.

Every year around August, a month-long strawberry expo occurs in Areguá, the same city that boasts the unique sandstone rock formations. We headed out to scope the hubbub and make good on our intentions to haul back kilos of the stuff. It seemed like half of Paraguay had the same idea. So worth it though!

After perusing my choices carefully, I scarfed down a crumbly waffle cone stacked with fresh strawberry ice cream that really hit the spot on the hot and extremely humid afternoon. And while I washed my four pounds of loot back at home, I consumed a quarter of it between cutting, sampling, sorting, and sampling some more. Yum.

Strawberries strawberries strawberries!

Strawberry liquor.

Strawberry mutations.

Strawberry ice cream.

Strawberry chupa chups.

Strawberry shortcake.

An itty bitty baby strawb.

A tasty future of smoothies, granitas, and creative desserts.

T drew something resembling a chubby four-legged blob on the whiteboard then turned to me and asked, “Want to play?”

I offered a hesitant, “Uhhh, yes?”

“It’s a pig!” she explained, “I’ll spin you around five times and you have to try to draw the tail on him with your eyes closed. Whoever gets the closest wins. No peeking!”

I gamely whirled an extra two spins for good measure, and I could hear T giggling as I wobbled severely. After a close call with the whirring nearby fan, I managed to place a curlicue squarely on the pig’s shoulder. T’s giggles quickly escalated to roars of laughter.

Then she went and the pig developed a coil protruding from its hind leg. As we continued taking turns, a tumor surfaced in the pig’s stomach and later what appeared to be a rogue eyelash painfully stuck out from its eye. We upped the ante and added a snout to the requirements. What ensued was a creature that resembled more a high tech robot than a swine (though dubious to begin with).

I had never seen or heard T laugh so hard, and marveled at the giddy entertainment stemming from an activity so simple. One lowly black marker and a blank slate. Ain’t it the truth that it’s the simple things in life…

After reflecting over the last seven months of cooking lessons and surveying the kids as well, that truth continued to prove dominant. Of all the fun cake recipes and “exotic” cuisines to which I have attempted to expose my little friends, egg salad sandwiches and pigs in a blanket were their favorite workshops. And the only ones they have reported replicating at home.

With this in mind, we kept it basic for the most recent class as well. Peach hand pies that require minimal ingredients (ready-made empanada wrappers, the canned peaches Paraguayans so love here, one egg, and a bit of sugar), minimal effort, and minimal bake time (not to mention minimal equipment).

That was last night. This morning at OANSA, T ran up to me and excitedly announced, “We made more of the pies when we got home because our family liked them so much and we had the ingredients in the kitchen.” And with a smile, she continued, “I can cook!”

Yup. It’s the simple things.