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Now that Mi Esperanza has purchased a new property, we have been laying groundwork for starting off on good terms with the future new neighborhood. One such effort was a work day at the nearby, very frequented park, where much of the playground equipment was in disrepair.

I stuffed far too many small children from the Santa Maria neighborhood in the Rav4 and trucked them over to spend the morning helping out. There were so many kids who had come over from my Santa Maria OANSA neighborhood, all working earnestly painting benches and seesaws, that jobs became scarce and all there was for me to do was mill around with the camera. These are the best dilemmas.

I was further impressed to observe that the years of Saturday kids’ club and inter-weekly home visits we have invested in these children are showing pleasant results in more ways than one. Not only were they clamoring to assist in the beautification projects, they were using language like “please” and “thank you” and “what else can I do to help?” Unsolicited.

I felt like such the proud parent. And especially so when the concluding BBQ lunch saw my kids patiently line up to serve others first before expecting their portions, contrasting markedly with the other children who were jostling and brazenly pilfering food like the barbarians of Primero de Marzo past.

Boom, baby.

Most Saturday mornings still feel like uphill battles, but these pockets of propriety show that somehow, some way transformation is taking place. Growth and maturity may hold positive things for this community of scalawags, and there is hope yet in the promise of a brighter tomorrow for Paraguay.

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Juan Carlos showed up to my cooking class two weeks ago after a long hiatus. He huffed into the kitchen and said with the grand air of a distinguished chef, “Man, I haven’t cooked in so long. What are we making today, Chef?”

His voice had the tone of a professional; simultaneously calm and eager and official. But his presentation was awful. He was filthy and his clothes were in various stages of disrepair. Not to mention, he had little black flecks scattered across his neck and face, and when I questioned him on it, he simply stated, “An aerosol can exploded.”  (We will ignore for now the fact that this is completely unnerving coming from a child and that this isn’t the first time it has happened.)

Appropriately enough, Sloppy Joe’s was the plat du jour. As I explained the anatomy of the sweet and spicy ground beef sandwich and literally translated the name to Spanish, all eyes drifted toward a certain mischievous someone.

“We’re cooking Juan Carlos today?” giggled T, “because he is looking pretty sloppy.”

A chorus of laughter rang out and then Juan Carlos quipped, “Good thing I taste delicious!”

BBQ Lizard for Dinner.

October 9, 2012

LL found this little guy fried stiff while heating up our grill.

Then a bee flew in her ear and chaos ensued.

Stanley the toasted snack.

Infinity scarf fascination:

Tantrums in the car:

Altos, Paraguay – purportedly the cleanest city in the country.
Looked pretty standard Latin America to me…

Play park time:

Daredevil heroics:

A Taiwanese garden:

A veritable patriotic BBQ feast: