Thursday, February 26, 2015

Spicin' it up with Tobati!

This weekend I went on an adventure within my adventure. Me and some of my fellow interns took a trip to Tobati, which I couldn't remember the name of for three days after because I kept jokingly calling it "Tapatia."

It was kind of a last minute decision to go to Tobati. I had almost no idea of what we were going to do, and so I cleverly brought virtually nothing with me. I did have a water bottle, however. It turned out that we went on this scenic hike up a hill, lined with rows of beautiful palms. It's lucky that my friends had cameras with them, because the view was spectacular. It was a perfect day.

When we got to the top of the hill, we took a stroll into a small cave where there were hundreds of bats. They were so cute! Michael wanted to hold one, but I guess that wasn't such a good idea. I secretly wanted to hold one too, but I'm not eager for rabies. Our guide kept pointing out the bat guano, which littered the cave floor in a layer of black droplets. He told us that when we see the guano, this will let us know that bats are overhead. Seems like a good notion to me.

After we climbed out of the cave, we hiked back down the hill. I took the opportunity of employing my best parkour moves on the way down. At the bottom, we got into the back of this lovely little trailer, and drove along a bumpy, marshy terrain.

I'm not going to lie to you. Being in the back of this trailer on the natural terrain was the scariest part of the trip for me, even though we went repelling after. As I was jammed in with my peers, all I could think is, one rock in the road and game over. We are done for. I have a huge bruise on my back to remember the experience by.

So, we hiked up another hill, and while looking around, we found a little waterfall! Of course, we had to jump in. It was just too perfect. I was such a lamo jumping in the first time. I literally stood on the edge saying how scared I was, but when I finally jumped off the fall only lasted about one second. The water felt good!

I love waterfalls. They are so serene and beautiful. I am making it my new goal to visit as many waterfalls as I can, in as many different places that I can.

Repelling was a scary experience. I have been repelling one other time in my life, but it was only a short drop down, and I didn't even have to wear a helmet. This time, I was on what must have been a 200 foot cliff, and the guide kept telling me to walk off of the edge, but my feet just didn't think that was a good idea. My knees buckled under me as I braced myself against the edge of the cliff. He kept telling me to lean back, but I just knew if I leaned back I was going to fall off. It was a surreal moment when I walked off of the edge, and found myself walking down the face of the cliff.

I couldn't help it. Michael and Myles were at the bottom filming me, and I screamed, "I'm so scared right now! Aaaaaah!" They told me to spread my legs and to let the rope slide through my hands. I was so stiff. It was about halfway down when I got the hang of it, and I let myself glide down and swing softly in an arch. It was thrilling, but I was glad to be at the bottom. When I was at the top, they told me not to look down, but of course I looked down anyways. Here's a pic of Myles being a pro.

When I got to the bottom, I yelled, "I'm alive! Yo vive!"

And we explored again and found another waterfall! The picturesque, movie-scene kind. I love that in Paraguay, you can play in the waterfalls. I've been to falls like this in Hawaii, and one in Oklahoma, but I was never allowed to get close.

I have to share one of my favorite pictures of me and Michael from the adventure. Think Titanic:

Michael and I made our status as best friends official last week, on a bus. Feel free to offer congratulations or gifts. It was a special moment.

Paraguay never ceases to amaze me.

I am so grateful to be here in Paraguay, living a dream of traveling and teaching English. I've been thinking a lot lately about my goals, and what I want my life to be like. I always knew that I wanted to live an extraordinary life, and that I want to create things and to change the world in my own small way. In order to accomplish this, I have learned that I need to just stop dreaming and start creating. If I want my life to change, then I need to take initiative and make that change. I have the potential to do anything I set my mind to.

If everyone knew the extent of their potential, they would amaze themselves.

Hasta pronto!

Friday, February 20, 2015

Teaching, Singing, Living life!

Hola from Paraguay!

I've been a terrible travel blogger. I have been here for almost seven weeks, and I haven't written a single post.

Things have been so exciting here ! The students are amazing. They are so fun, and accepting. I decided to stay here longer than I originally intended. I feel so free here; away from "real life". Of course, I have 11 hour days, but it's just so amazing that I am teaching English and working on English content. I believe that the best way to learn is from experience. I am so lucky to have this opportunity to teach English and gain experience while I am still a sophomore in college.

I love being here, because I am living my dream. I am teaching a valuable skill that will help others have a better life, and I am living in a foreign country. I get to experience and discover another part of the world. I want to continue traveling for the rest of my life. I love people, and coming in contact with many different cultures.

I have been on so many adventures since coming here. On my very first weekend, I went to the President's house! It was pink. I've tried terrere and chipa; adventures in themselves.

Going outside at all during the day is an adventure for me here. The streets of San Lorenzo are a kaleidoscope of shops, all set up in the fronts of people's houses. It's like a giant maze of a flea market. This is terrifying at night time, when every street looks exactly the same. Keira and I have some interesting stories to tell about the streets at night time.

Things are very. very. different in Paraguay. We don't have hulu. But we do have netflix.

But in all seriousness, I've seen some new things. The sidewalks are a patchwork of different stones and patterns, and my eyes are constantly on the ground to avoid tripping. The sidewalks have no rhyme or reason, and there are gaping holes and jutting stones to constantly look out for. The streets here ruin your shoes.

I've seen a man on a motorcycle balancing HUNDREDS of eggs in all of the space around him.


By the way, it is very scary to drive here. People just weave in and out of each other. There is no such thing as a lane. There are those little lights that blink when you turn them on, but I'm pretty sure most people don't ever use them. And the busses drive faster than the cars. I had a moment of extreme panic when I was at the front of the bus, and I saw a dip in the road, and at the speed we were going at I was sure I was going to die.

Something that is very different here is the fact that people sell things on the bus. I found this hilarious when I first got here, just because it seemed so out of place. They jump on, shouting about their wares, and then jump off while the bus is still moving. To native Paraguayans who might be reading this: that isn't something that happens where I come from.

Also, horses come around to pick up the garbage.

Now for something really exciting: in the first few weeks of coming here, my manager asked me if I sing. I said a little, and he said excellent, would I like to be in his band, Los Llankiz? I said of course! I love singing! And two weeks later we had our first performance in TGI Fridays.

Can I just say: Who goes to Paraguay and sings in a restaurant there?? This is living!!!

Here's a number from our performance. It's not the best quality, but I'm pretty proud of that night. Check it out :) I hope you like it.

A few weeks later, we sang on a the UNA university radio station. Don't know how many people were listening, but I loved it regardless. I thought it was just the greatest thing. My first time on the radio! And in Paraguay!

I've been listening to a lot of music during work, and for band practice. It seems like each week, I'm obsessed with a different artist. This week The Civil Wars are starring on my playlist. I can't get enough of them! They're music is so soulful and raw. I've decided that I need to move to Virginia, learn to play the mandolin, and become a folk singer. Now, who would have thought that going to Paraguay would give me the urge to be a folk singer? I will be on the look out for a ukulele, or a small guitar, so that I can start writing more music.

This is one of my favorite songs. Actually, all the songs by the Civil Wars are my favorite songs.

Well, if you've made it through this long post, I congratulate you, and I thank you for sharing in my excitement! whew that was a long post. chau chau!