An Ode to Integration

My amazing friend and fellow volunteer from my training group, Molly Gallagher, wrote this poem to reflect what we’ve been going through since we got here. It’s a pretty accurate description of Peace Corps Paraguay. (Glossary to follow)

We’ve been here 10 weeks in Paraguay
And we’re finally in our sites.
Things are going pretty swell,
Only a dozen bug bites.

People are so very nice
Which I do appreciate.
Always inviting me to have lunch
Makes it easier to integrate.

But there’s a few things I need to vent
About my new home.
To make it sound a little sweeter,
I put them into poem.

First of all, there’s the food,
Chipa and sopa abound.
With all these greasy meals,
I’ve packed on a couple pounds.

And then there’s Guaraní,
A language less pleasant than pique.
Every sentence they mumble,
All I respond is “Mba’e?”

Whenever I’m drinking terere,
I always have to pee.
That creepy guy next door
Wants to be my chico’i.

My host mom’s a bit too attentive
If I wash my own dish, she freaks.
Can’t wait to get my own place-
Only 10 more weeks

I’m always so damn tired,
I could really use a mocha.
Every time I try to nap,
It’s interrupted by blasting polka.

This first week has been rough,
I’ll tell you I’m not lyin’.
But I know soon enough,
I’ll be practically Paraguayan.

Peace Corps is no easy job
And I’m not in it for the moolah
But I really do mean it when I say
“Heê, Che avy’ama!”

Glossary of terms you may not understand:
Chipa: a heavy bread-like food
Sopa: another heavy cornbread-like food
Traditional campo food doesn’t incorporate a lot of vegetables and tends to be heavy and slightly greasy. As well, good cuts of meat are expensive, meaning that I’ve eaten the animals we’ve butchered from our own farm, or less choice cuts, like liver. Or heart.
The trend amongst Peace Corps volunteers, no matter what country, is that women gain weight, men lose it. Don’t ask why, but so far it’s true. I can tell I’ve lost some pounds, but the girls say they’ve gained.
Pique: a sand flea that burrows in your toes and lays eggs, which is gruesome to dig out. Pretty common among volunteers, I’ve had it 3 times already.
“Mba’e?”: what? in Guaraní
Terere: the traditional tea-like beverage that is drunk at all hours of the day, a natural diuretic.
Chico’i/chica’i: a term for your significant other who really is just one of your sexual partners.
Polka: the traditional music of Paraguay is actually Paraguayan Polka. It’s an interesting blend of culture that they love to blast from the radio.
“Heê, Che avy’ama”: In Guaraní, “yeah, I’m already happy here!”

Thanks to Molly for the poem and for keeping us entertained during this hard time period!


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