I have reached my one month mark here in Asuncion, (actually I reached it about two days ago!) and have come to learn a lot about the country, the people, the culture, the heritage, and myself. There are days I’ve been incredibly frustrated by things out of my control, and there are days I feel light as air knowing I don’t have to worry about a thing. Today, I can laugh about the first few days when the sheer number of keys I had to use between my bedroom and the kitchen was enough to put me into tears when all I wanted was a glass of water. Thankfully, Fatima and her mom almost always leave the door open for me now, (they must have grown tired of listening to me jangle my keys for half an hour trying to open or lock the door!) and I have grown comfortable enough in my environment to walk around to the side of the house and knock on Sadie, (Fatima’s Mom)’s door to enter the house.
Other first impressions have also begun to dwindle in their relevance. My first grocery store experience shocked me a bit, as the store we went to wasn’t the nicest or the biggest, but still practical. The last few weeks I have been experimenting with new stores, and as John Gimlette writes in At the Tomb of the Inflatable Pig it’s really like a mini-America in there. Tons of light and bright happy colors, and endless options of food, (though still lacking in the cereal department for my taste!)
I’ve experienced nightlife at its finest – dancing, Karaoke, giant 40’s of beer shared between friends. I’ve experienced day trips and food as local as local gets. I’ve gone to el campo to watch a ceremony celebrating the re-planting of native tree species in the Atlantic Forest, and I’ve helped save a dog from a continued life of misery and hunger.
Now these may not all be accomplishments in everyone’s eyes, but after only a month here, I definitely feel at home. Of course I still get frustrated and curse when it takes 45 minutes for the bus to show up. I still am annoyed that I can’t talk on my cell phone whenever and wherever I want. And I still want to scream every time the Internet connection is too slow to maintain a phone conversation with my boyfriend and family.
I don’t know if I will ever grow accustomed to the shoeless children trying to sell you packs of gum while stopped at a traffic light, or the faces of forsaken animals all over the city, but overall I am learning patience and accepting the things I cannot control. I still have plenty of time to continue growing and learning here, but am happy with how far I’ve come so far!