Posts Tagged With: passion fruit

Brownies and a Hammock

“Do not disturb – Workin’ on My Own Dream.” – Ron Rubin and Stuart Avery Gold, authors of Tiger Heart, Tiger Mind

October 29, 2014

Gardening can’t possibly get more fun than pruning my favorite fruit, passion fruit or mburucuya in Guarani, and delighting in the gorgeous, delicate flowers and fruits hanging like heavy Christmas ornaments while stepping through masses of mint and having its aroma waft itself to my head. Oh boy. The seeds from last season’s crops were shared with the community because the fruit was SO much larger (large naval orange or softball size) than what is available locally (golf ball to mandarine size) and everyone wanted to plant this better fruit on their farms. More juice! I also donated the pith (white part between the skin and inner pulp) from my discarded fruits to a senora who dried it and made it into flour.

Passion fruit flowers and the actual fruit. One of my all-time favorite flowers. And they smell like lillies.

Passion fruit flowers and the actual fruit. One of my all-time favorite flowers. And they smell like lillies.

Lunch, which is sometimes dessert first just for fun because I have my priorities, was homemade brownies in a cup drowned in homemade yogurt (my best batch yet!) with fresh mint from the garden and organic cinnamon. I allowed myself some restful digestion in the hammock (a rare treat and first of the season) while finishing my latest read Tiger Heart, Tiger Mind by Ron Rubin and Stuart Avery Gold. (See my Library page for other latest additions of wonderful and recommended books.) We are so lucky here at Peace Corps Paraguay to have an amazing library at the office!

The afternoon continued with raking dead grass and leaves to cover the garden soil. It hasn’t rained in at least three weeks, the soil is as hard as cement, and the dust blowing off the road with every passing vehicle is unbearable. The leaves and grass will help preserve what moisture is in there and keep the weeds down. I don’t know how the plants eek out their survival but we are due for a week of rain starting tomorrow, which everyone in town is excited for.

Late edit:

At dusk I sauntered to the futbol field across the street to watch the kids and young adults play volley ball. The senoras had already chosen their seats in the grass among the collection of dried cow patties and thistles, except the lone senora who played goalie. I just sat and listened to the squeal and laughter of kids; the thump of the ball against bare feet, heads, and legs; the senoras whispering their gossip.

When we parted ways, the evening was so perfect that I couldn’t help but linger on my patio:  a bug-free, light breeze of the most perfect tropical temperature, a bursting look-at-me sunset, the occasional squawk of a bird retreating to its nest for the night. It wasn’t long before the community retreated to their own homes for dinner, the evening quieted and the hush and dark of night settled over us all.

Thank you, Paraguay, for another beautiful day.

Stay tuned for more Tales from the Tropics soon. I’ve got some GREAT stories on the way.


Did You Know…

The word in guarani that indicates surprise, the equivalent of ‘no kidding!’ or ‘what?!” is e’a! (pronounced eh-AH), which they sometimes abbreviate to just “e” (a short, quick “EH”)

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Friendship on Every Doorstep

“Rain or blessings may pour down from the heavens, but if you only hold up a thimble, a thimbleful is all you receive.” –  Ramakrishna

August 5, 2014

The day started with 2 goals: to pay my water bill and to deliver a handful of passion fruits. It never ceases to amaze me how such simple things can blossom your whole day into brilliant joy.

I made my way the half-mile or so to the señora’s house to pay my water bill (the equivalent of about U.S. $4/month). It seems every plant is flowering right now and the air was perfumed with a bouquet I wish I could attach to share with you like those old scratch-and-sniff stickers from the 80s! It makes walking around town a blissful, sensory delight! I passed the señora on her way to the school where she cooks lunch for kids who don’t get food at home. After exchanging greetings, she nodded me toward her house saying that her daughters were home and could take my payment. In their twenties, I LOVE these two women: friendly, cheerful, gracious, easy to talk with…we talked for a good while about everything while their toddlers ate mandarins and shooed away chickens. As I prepared to leave, I inquired about the pig carcass hanging from the patio roof. They said it would be BBQd the next day in honor of their mother’s birthday. I was officially invited to lunch and gladly accepted! (pork BBQ – one of my favorites!)

My next stop was across town to visit a señora whose son had helped me fix my passion fruit arbor in the garden a while ago. As a thank you, I’d promised to share some fruit when the time came. Laden with a bag of uncommonly large deliciousness I arrived, unannounced, at her gate (one of the things I LOVE about Paraguay – you can visit unannounced, there’s almost always someone at home and they are happy to have your company!) She was doing laundry, squatting in front of her washbasin made from a tire turned inside-out, hand-scrubbing her husband’s tighty whities and jeans. She hugged me hello like I was a long-lost daughter, pulled up a chair for me next to the tighty-whitey wash station and proceeded to catch me up on all her news. I shrieked in disbelief upon learning she still had running water! A bad lightning storm killed the motor on our town’s water tank and we’ve been without clean drinking water for a week. While every family has a dug well on the property, few families have maintained them after the town installed running water over a year ago. My own well, from lack of use, is full of rusty-brown, debris-laden water and leftovers from a giant, bloated dead frog. To bathe, I’ve been filtering, boiling and chlorinating water over the past week.

My filtration system from the dirty well. (Right) untreated well water, (Center) filtering through a chamois towel, (Left) boiled and chlorinated.

My filtration system from the dirty well. (Right) untreated well water, (Center) filtering through a chamois towel, (Left) boiled and chlorinated.

Seven days ago, I borrowed four liters of drinking water from a neighbor who had a bit extra to spare in the beginning and this had lasted me five days, supplemented with homemade orange juice and kombucha. To conserve, I’d avoided cooking any food that required water (pancakes anyone?), salting foods or doing anything that induced sweating in an effort to stay hydrated. I was on the brink of desperation for a new source of drinking water as my supply dwindled and rumors said the motor wouldn’t be fixed for 2-3 more days, so when this señora offered to send me home with two liters of fresh water – she was an instant hero! I was ecstatic! Not only water, but I had a full load of lettuce, carrots, Persian lemons AND four liters of water! Add to that, the husband’s hilarious sense of humor, constantly jibing about my non-existent husband, the señora repeating every funny thing I’d said each time a new family member returned home, watching the youngest son skin a pigeon, being invited to lunch for the best meal I’d had in a week, and a time of incredible bonding and laughing over several hours, I thought the day couldn’t get any better. I was wrong.

I hurried home in time to meet up with two señoras with whom I’d arranged to help build their solar food dryers in the afternoon. They are sisters in their 50s, both with a sense of humor and general light-heartedness about life (are you seeing a theme yet? Paraguayans. Laughter. Love.)  We spent the afternoon laughing, joking, working, and ultimately celebrating their achievements. What a great feeling to see the pride and sense of accomplishment on their faces!

Senora showing off her completed solar food dryer

Senora showing off her completed solar food dryer

I returned home (2 classrooms down the hall in my ‘schoolhouse’– haha) to find the Peace Corps “Blog It Home” contest had begun. In case you missed this announcement: I’m honored that my blog was selected as 1 of 20 finalists from over 350 entries around the world. If you’ve enjoyed reading my work and learning about Paraguay, I’d be grateful for your support and your vote as the public helps decide the ultimate winners now through August 10. Click here to learn how or go straight to the voting site here!

Stay tuned for more amazing adventures from Paraguay. Thanks for reading.

Jajotopata! (until next time)

UPDATE – running water came back this morning a day ahead of schedule!!! I had a celebratory discussion with the teachers on my front porch who laughed how I’d be able to bathe again. Ummm, yeah. Having water again IS exciting and a hot shower…even better!…but was it THAT obvious I needed a bath? – Always laughing in Paraguay…

 

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Best of Today

Better to have a life filled with “oh wells” than one filled with “what ifs.”

June 21, 2014

 

Best of today: not this morning’s 5-gallon pail of newly harvested seeds, not the shower I spent 4 days longing for, not the passion-fruit-flour pancakes I created and smothered in honey from my own bees…

 

It was when the 7-year old next door came to visit, just because, and laughed out loud at my pronunciation of a particular Spanish word, forcing me to say it 5 times before nodding her approval, all the while helping me shell my new seed pods without being asked.

 

This was a humorous reminder of our last interaction over the weekend when I had to buy some TP at the despensa, which came with a line of questioning and a forced admission that, yes, I had a serious case of the chivivi. She tried SO HARD to stifle a smirk and offer a polite, serious, faux-sympathetic face, but I could see her eyes just glimmering with all those suppressed giggles. I’m quite sure as soon as I left she updated the whole family on my condition and by the next day the entire community would know of my ‘situation.’ “Oh well,” I thought. “What’s a little diarrhea between friends?” But 6:30 the next morning one of my favorite señoras called to say she was worried about me, made sure I had medicine, and told me that she loved me. That was better than any medicine. It was the hug I needed. Even with GI upset, my life in PY is pretty darn awesome.

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What’s a Little Mold in the Oatmeal?

“Don’t forget to laugh a little or a lot every single day.” – WW

It wasn’t until I’d poured my second serving of oatmeal this morning that I realized it was moldy. I picked out the visible chunks and decided that, with a little boiling water, perhaps the mold won’t do me in. Why am I surprised? After 7 consecutive days and nights of rain, everything is growing a living surface of green or black and my supply of non-moldy food has dwindled to beans, rice, peanut butter, popcorn, frozen chipa, passion fruit and some citrus from neighbors. Despite all this, I am grateful it hasn’t been bitterly cold like last year.

During a pause in the rain this morning, I finally could burn the bathroom trash in the backyard and empty the water collected from the various leaks in the roof over the week, about 4 gallons in all, and this didn’t include all the water that missed the buckets and landed on the floor (which is estimated at least another 137 gallons itself). It’s nice to have an ‘indoors’ day now and then to catch up on reading, shelling seeds, or planning activities but I’m glad to head to the city in a few days to enjoy human interaction, dry accommodations, supermarkets, and tango!

I’m reminded to laugh and love the beauty of the absurdities in this experience. It reminds me of what’s truly important, what I can tolerate when the rubber hits the road, what I can do without; it challenges me to find creative solutions to situations that present themselves, and makes me a better person. I can choose to be miserable or to laugh. I’ve learned that life is not nearly as serious as we make it and it’s waaaaay better with some levity. I’ll go with laughter and levity. In the grand scheme of things, what’s a little mold  in the oatmeal? Bring it on! Just don’t rain on my bed, the only 30 square feet of space that has yet to leak in my house. Please. Pretty please. haha. Keep smilin’ and have a great day!

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