Monday, November 28, 2011

A sad day in Peace Corps Paraguay

There is not much I can say about the sad news of volunteer Emily Balog’s death. Aside from being a reminder of how delicate and fleeting human life is, it is a reminder of how far from home PC volunteers are.

Car crashes can and do happen all over the world. Hers was not a death unique to Paraguay. But to die so far away from family, after being away for so long, seems especially sad.

Aside from a brief conversation or two, I hardly knew Emily, but my thoughts are with her friends and family.

Friday, November 11, 2011

How to Prepare for a Holiday

Sunday is the patron saint day for Santani (San Estanislao), the town closest to my site. That basically means there is going to be a big, city wide, party. That’s fine, except I was planning on going to Santani this Saturday to buy materials for building cook-stoves (fagones). Apparently, most businesses will be closed to prepare for the dia patronal.
This illustrates an interesting cultural difference between holidays in the US and in Paraguay. In the US, usually the day before or after a holiday is a huge shopping day. Stores and advertisers encourage us to get out there and shop! Examples include “black Friday” after Thanksgiving, “last-minuet shopping” before Christmas, and Labor Day sales. The thought of being closed the day before a holiday is very foreign to US companies and consumers.
The stores in Santani are closed in preparation for the holiday… Preparing for a holiday dose not have to be about buying things. Embarrassingly, that blows my mind a bit.
Guess I’ll head into down Monday… unless stores will be closed to recover from the holiday. Vamos a ver.