First Impressions

Hey guys, my name is Anne Wolfe. I’m a rising junior studying International Relations with a concentration in Latin America and doubling in Peace and Justice Studies. I’m interning in Paraguay with an organization called Fundacion Paraguaya this summer in their microfinance division. This is my first blog post that went up on my own blog a while ago, but that I completely forgot to copy to this blog until now (oops). Another blog post will follow shortly, as this was written during my first week in Asuncion and thus, is slightly outdated.

I guess this is it, this is my first. My first blog, my first internship, my first time traveling abroad alone, my first time living on my own, my first time going to Paraguay. It certainly feels like a lot of firsts. And the beginning wasn’t so smooth. After a series of delays, I was forced to reroute my entire flight plan skipping Brazil, and instead being routed through both Peru and Chile. However, after 26 hours, my luggage (thankfully) and I finally made it to Asunción.

Asunción isn’t your typical capital city. The first time you notice is before you even land. The last thing I saw before the aged TAM plane rose above the clouds and obscured my view was the Andes, majestic, but mostly brown and snow-covered. Descending from the clouds, I was greeted by the Río Paraguay and fields of green extending out to the horizon. And the vegetation didn’t disappear as we began our descent into the airport. Asunción is a surprisingly green city; medians on busy streets are populated by trees and parks are abundant. Its differences strike you again at the airport when you’re in line to go through migrations; the line for national citizens goes out the door, while the line for entering foreigners is even shorter than the line for diplomatic passengers. Paraguay isn’t the biggest tourist hot spot, but it’s got charm. From the huge organic market that’s held every Tuesday in the parking garage of the largest mall, to the asado, a traditional Paraguayan barbeque, which is basically meat on a stick, Paraguay offers a breath of fresh air. You aren’t treated like a tourist, because the general population isn’t really accustomed to tourists. Asking for directions or for a restaurant recommendation is easy, because everyone wants to help. It’s definitely different than any other place I’ve visited.

Yet, the openness of the Paraguayan culture is warm and inviting, and I’m finding it easy to fit in here. The past two days have been an adjustment, learning how to get to the S6 (Super Seis), the nearest supermarket, learning how to take the busses (which have wooden floors), and meeting all my coworkers and fellow interns. I’ve read all the documents which form the backbone for Fundación Paraguaya, but so far haven’t really gotten out into the field. But tomorrow morning, I’ll be getting out of the office and meeting my first women’s committee. I feel like I know some of them already after all the reading, but I’m so excited to finally meet these women. It will be refreshing to get out and explore more, to see more of the country and to gain a better understanding of everything that I’ve been reading up on.

This weekend will also hold more adventures, since the other interns and I are planning a trip to the Iguazu Falls, though we still have to figure out some of the logistics. Working around visa regulations, border control, and transportation may get complicated, and there’s a lot of debate over whether it’s better to take the midnight bus or to stay overnight, since every person we’ve talked to has given us different advice, but I’m excited. The falls are supposed to be one of the most beautiful areas of this region; straddling the border between Argentina and Brazil, they’re that “must-see” tourist location for visitors to Paraguay, even though they’re not actually in Paraguay.

So it should be an adventure, not just the falls, but also my first real meeting tomorrow, and everything that I’ll learn in the next two months. I’m not really sure what to expect, but I’ve only been here two days, so I guess that’s alright.

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