After returning from Paraguay last December, spending a couple of months in NY and then moving to Germany in March – I hadn’t yet had the opportunity to “come home again”. You know the feeling you get; goosebumps thinking about seeing your family and friends, the town you grew up in, your family pets. You anticipate what it will be like to be in the same place as the people you love, to eat mom’s homemade spaghetti and meatballs (or noodle pudding!)
Unfortunately, I still had one month to go before I could really go home again, to NY that is, but I was lucky enough to travel down to Paraguay for work in October, 2011 – for the first time in ten months. So in a way, it felt like going home again.
I remember leaving the country last December and being unsure if I wanted to go back. I knew I was leaving behind great people and lasting friendships, but the hardship of my daily life living in a home I didn’t feel welcome, in the poverty of the downtown made it difficult to get by each day. I remember suffering immensely at the homeless animals all over the streets and the indigenous children walking barefoot along Asuncion’s main Avenues, doing tricks or begging for change.
I can say happily that on this return trip I had none of the same emotions as last year. The overt poverty was still there, but I was staying with a great friend, in a town bordering Asuncion, in a lovely home where home cooked meals were prepared daily, if not twice daily – so I wasn’t as exposed as I had been previously. My great friends would drive out to pick me up and take me anywhere I wanted to go, and I was spared the agony of the Paraguayan public transport system (i.e. buses from 1965). I didn’t even feel like the animals were in as bad a condition as I had remembered. I went to work each day with a plan and a goal, and felt confident in my Spanish in a way I never had before.
That’s not to say I was ignorant to the hardships of life in Asuncion, but I didn’t feel like I was suffering along with them, as I once had. Not that I was ever on the streets begging for food or pennies, but I tend to feel the pain and hurt of others in an overpowering way that sometimes I can’t turn away from. So when I am exposed to an environment where that is the norm, I find it difficult to function. This trip back to Paraguay made it feel like a nice place I’d happily come visit again, rather than being clouded by the dark memories I created there, (alongside some very nice ones.)
Needles to say, it wasn’t exactly “home”, but it definitely felt like a comfortable friend’s home where I was welcomed back with open arms, which was a welcome respite from learning the ropes in my new city.