So today is September 29th and that means I have been in Paraguay for 4 months and in my site for about 2 months. When my group and I first arrived to Paraguay all of us were really excited to be here and see what Paraguay was all about. Added to this excitement was the task that each of us had, that is the task of getting to know the other Americans with whom we would spend the next 2 years with. Although I say task, this turned out to be much easier and much more pleasurable then initially anticipated. I think I speak for most volunteers when I say; we volunteers have become a family. We complain to each other about other volunteers, we argue, we hang out and we confide in each other. The initial adjustment to Paraguay required that we volunteers support each other and listen to each other, as we had no other person here who could empathize with our emotional rollercoaster and experiences here in Paraguay.
Again, today completes 4 months in country and about 2 months in site. It rained two days ago and when it rains in Paraguay this means nothing opens for business, no one leaves the house and no one visits friends or families, the whole town shuts down. This can be very depressing. In fact it is very depressing. Sometimes it’s hard to get out bed. Why? When I leave the house I have to be Paraguayan Mark, and that’s not easy. I’ve only been here a short time and have not yet allowed Paraguay to change Mark into a Mark that embodies both the good from Paraguay and the good from the U.S. Again, it’s a hard process and very depressing at times. If you go back and read above you’ll see that I wrote it rained 2 days ago…..it’s sunny out right now, but I don’t want to go out. I think the rain here depresses one, but the effects last longer than the rain. The other night I had a dream that I walked into my house (in the States) and my dog Plocky ran up to greet me, half barking and half whimpering from my absence, jumping up and down begging for me to pick her up. When I reached to pick her up I realized that it was my alarm clock barking…or buzzing.
Shifting gears slightly, my family and those of you who know me very well personally, know how important music is to me. Then night before I left the states, I stayed up until 6 am trying to upload all of my music (50,000 tracks or 300GB) to my external hard drive to bring with me to Paraguay. Unfortunately, I didn’t have enough time and had to leave to catch my plane. Thanks to my parents they were able to overnight my hard drive to me in Miami before leaving U.S. soil. Boy, was I thankful to receive my music. My music repertoire is very diverse and serves many different purposes depending on how I’m feeling. In it you’ll find the common genres such has: Hip hop, R&B, Country, Classic Rock, Oldies, Rap and Pop. However, you will also find: Salsa, Merengue, Tango, Ranchera, Mariachi, Bolero, Cumbia, Villera, Guarania, Vallenato, Bachata, Sertanejo, Samba, Son, Pakastani, French, Swedish and Tanzanian Rap, among many others. Why am I focusing so much on music? Because for me, like many others, music has always mentally taken me where I want to go, and allows me to remember the pleasant times and pleasant thoughts of things in the past. Like my faith, it has never abandoned me. When combined with my faith it’s such a powerful force that I feel like I can endure anything. However, being here in Paraguay the experience is different. Here my music has betrayed me. Here my music is painful. The music brings back good memories, but it’s a constant reminder of how far away I am from home, my girlfriend, my family and friends.
I think I’m going through much of what the Peace Corps has already explained to us. The first two months of training did not allow me to get accustomed to Paraguay, but instead helped me to get used to Paraguayan life as a Peace corps trainee. However, now I am having to get used to life as a volunteer. Life as a volunteer does not include: 17 other Americans, a Paraguayan family that has hosted numerous Americans in the past, a training team that can answer just about every question one may have, someone to cook and clean for you, nor does it give you an opportunity to blow off steam with other people who are probably experiencing the same thing. Life as a Peace Corps volunteer is sometimes the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done and at other times the most depressing experience of my life.
All of this combined with what I’ve written in my previous posts make for a hellish experience. Thank God I still have my faith to count on.
I would be interested in reading all of your comments, especially those of you who have served in PC or in Paraguay.