I’ve made it to Paraguay at last, and in one piece! I have had many impressions so far, first impressions of course – which we all know change over time, however in the last 24 hours I can say it has definitely been a positive experience! First let me start with my flights, which were long, but I was able to sleep through most of the flight from New York to Sao Paulo, Brazil, and then again from Sao Paulo to Asuncion. I probably ate about 4 meals throughout that travel time. You never know when your next meal is going to be when traveling on such long flights and then I wasn’t sure about when I landed, so I figured I would be safe rather than sorry and eat everything put in front of me!
When I arrived and made it through customs and immigration, I was greeted by two very friendly faces: Fatima and Enrique, the former is the woman I will be staying with and both are colleagues at the WWF. They had seen my photo previously so Enrique was waving to me from outside the gate, which was a VERY nice welcome! Also, gratefully, we began our conversation in both English and Spanish – which took some of the pressure off of me. Now don’t get me wrong, I am able to speak Spanish, however, after a 3 years hiatus from full conversation I have been worried about my ability to communicate – so easing into it is definitely calming.
We first drove to exchange some money, 1USD = about 4,700 PYG (Paraguayan Guarani) and had a snack, some delicious typical Guarani food consisting of lots of warm, melty cheese (yum!) I’ll have to ask the name of the snack again to report because I also would like to eat it again! We then stopped by the house to drop off my bags and went to a vegetarian Chinese buffet, which was also delicious. I spent about 8,000 PYG on a plate of food consisting of beats, tofu, potato croquetas, rice, and salad. Eclectic, I know! (and cheap!)
Now, let me tell you a bit about the house – it is beautiful! There is a large courtyard when you enter the front door, with trees and plants, a main house and then a guest house (my home for the next 6 months!) When you enter the guest house there is an office on the main floor with two desks and a number of bookshelves lining the walls. There are a ton of books on Ecology and the Environment, so I will have my reading cut out for me 🙂 Then there is a staircase on the far wall which takes you up to the bedroom. There is a large bed and a wall and a half of closets (a dream come true,) and also a large bathroom with a beautiful marble vanity and sink on one side. I am very lucky to be staying with Fatima in her beautiful home!
After we had lunch, we drove over to the WWF Paraguay office, which is a little bit outside of the downtown area. The office is in a beautiful home, with a giant Panda in front! Everyone here has been incredibly welcoming, and speaking to me in both Spanish and English so I am not overwhelmed, though I must admit I am impressed with how well I am able to understand and communicate en Castellano! The whole office sat down at a table outside the kitchen when I arrived and we had coffee, tea, and a platter of cookies – including Alfajores, a delicious cookie that is filled with dulce de leche.
Overall, I am feeling positive about this experience so far, and will try to post photos for you to see as soon as I am able to connect my phone to my computer. Hasta luego!