Published: September 21st 2011August 26th 2011
Arriving to Asuncion from Horqueta Friday morning brought me into my last week in Paraguay. I worked from home on the list of confirmed participants for the Conference during the day after getting some rest, and met with Martin that night to say goodbye and thank him for all he had done for me. That night I ate at a crepe restaurant with the interns. It was really cute!
On Saturday, I decided to wake up early and hop on a bus to El Centro (downtown) to buy some last souvenirs and gifts, and to see downtown one last time before I leave. I walked around all morning until the early afternoon and walked down the Paseo Artesanal (artisan walk). Also, there happened to be a parade with people dressed in “typical dress” outfits who were dancing while music was playing. I ate lunch at a place called Lido Bar. This is a popular place to go eat, right in the center of downtown, which serves all kinds of typical Paraguayan foods, with a “diner” atmosphere and waitresses dressed in 1950s uniforms. I then went to see the old train station and headed to meet up with Anna, an intern
leaving the next day, to walk around Shopping del Sol, one of the main malls in Asuncion. That night we all went to eat at a pizzeria, called Pizzeria Sole Mio, that has a King Arthur’s round table castle feel, and it is right next to a church. It was cool and very yummy!
Sunday I walked to church one last time in the morning and walked around my neighborhood/surrounding areas (down San Martin and Julio Correa) to see whichever shops were open and eat some lunch. I caught up on email and blogs that afternoon, as well as worked on the list of confirmed participants for the Conference, which I continued Monday, as we were receiving many departments’ lists and updated lists, as well, with more people adding every hour. I drafted and sent out final last minute invitations for the conference, and I worked on the agenda a bit more. I finally completely finished writing about the water boards. The document contained descriptions from each water board that I visited, along with photos of the water boards. Tuesday night, Paula invited me to a cena de despedida (goodbye diner) at her house. It was an asado, where
her husband, Oti, cooked sausages and beef on the grill outside. Present was her husband, her parents, sister, and brother. It was so much fun and a great time to talk to all of them one last time. She has a very nice family, and they were all very welcoming to me the entire time I was there. It was somewhat sad saying bye to them, especially since they were among the first Paraguayans I met back in June. Wednesday morning, Paula’s sister took me to Luque, a city right outside of Asuncion near the airport that is known for jewelry. It was neat to see another city a few days before I headed out. We also went to an artesania (artisan) shop near the street Mariscal Lopez in Asuncion named Cecilia Fadul: Artesania del Paraguay. I recommend that shop, even to just look around, to anyone going to Asuncion. I arrived at work by lunch time, and continued organizing the list of confirmed participants, as I received phone calls with people signing up last minute. The people that worked in the AVINA office prepared a despedida for me that afternoon. They had pastries (such as medialunas) and a cake
for all of us to share. We talked and took a few pictures. I wish I had been able to work with or talk with more of the people in my office on a more regular basis. They are all really nice and quite funny! That night, I worked at my house until the early hours of Thursday morning.
It was hard to believe that I was in my final day in Paraguay. I worked the whole of the morning on the list of participants, as most departments provided updated lists to us, and I tried reaching departments that still had yet to provide us with their lists. Our final count for confirmed participants for the Conference (the last time I saw the list, at least, with still a few departments in need of responding) was 396, with 266 needing a room to stay. Our goal was 500 participants, which we more than met once the last lists were submitted and government entities were also taken into account. Now all that’s left is for Paula to fill me in on how it went. I hope everything goes smoothly and as expected, if not better. Much work has been put
into this conference, and I hope the Juntas get all they need to out of it. That would be the best success.
After work, I scheduled a massage at Acqua di Mare before my despedida at Café de Aca. The massage was only 12 USD, and one hour of pure amazingness! Thank you to Karelli for recommending this to me before I return to the US. The despedida at Café de Aca was the perfect way to end my time in Paraguay. It was one of the first places I had really been to in Asuncion, and it was where I met the interns. Leah, Kristen, Mario, Linda, and Sebastian were able to make it. It was sad to say goodbye. I returned home, and Paula came to say bye one last time. I gave her back the phone and life-saving heater she let me borrow. I had nearly forgotten to print my itinerary for my flight, so I took care of that, then off to my room to finally shower and pack. I packed during the night/early morning Thursday/Friday. Packing to return home is much easier than packing for departure from the U.S., because I know that everything
I have has to fit in my suitcases and come back with me. Luckily, I was able to fit everything in my suitcases without a problem (thanks to my light packing at the beginning of the trip). I left my house at 4 am on Friday with a taxi driver that I had already arranged to pick me up (as I met him earlier that day on my way from work to the massage); it was time to head back to the U.S. My flight left at 6:45 am, with a 5 hour layover in Lima, Peru, and a one hour layover in San Salvador, El Salvador. In Peru, I ate the most delicious ceviche at a restaurant in the airport, and passed most of the time on the internet (luckily I was able to connect!) and browsing in shops. I arrived safely at almost midnight the same day in LAX! :) I got lucky passing through immigration, because I was called to go to a new line that was supposedly only for families. I passed through in under a half hour and was then officially back in the States. Yippee! Carlos picked me up (since I landed in LAX),
and I spent the weekend with him and his family, then off to Sacramento to see my family (FINALLY) on Sunday night (August 28).
Looking back on the past almost 10 weeks, I realize that I ended up settling in so much in the short time I was there. I became familiar with many people, places, streets, customs, foods, and even bus lines (haha!). There were so many projects I would have loved to work more on, but time was the limiting factor. I only hope that I have made at least a scratch on Paraguay, as Paraguay and all who I have encountered, have made a huge impression on me. It was an experience that has opened my eyes and my heart and one that I will never forget.
Thanks for following my blog while I was in Paraguay!
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