My host father’s name is Ramon. He is such a good man. I would consider him to be a community leader. He has founded several commissions and clubs. One project he has been working on for 5 years is trying to get the road that runs in front of our house paved. He is also the Vice-President of a soccer club he helped found 3 years ago. He dreamed of founding this soccer club in Paso de Oro over 20 years ago. He loves soccer and wanted to provide a positive place for young people to go. Instead of getting drunk, doing drugs, and committing crimes, they could come to the soccer field. He is in the process of developing Paso de Oro’s first soccer field. He provides for so many in and around our house. He is a very soft-spoken, open minded, and caring man. He opened up his house and heart to me. I admire him a lot.
My host mother’s name is Basilia. She is crazy! She is very light-hearted and extroverted. She is constantly joking around. She loves to laugh. She also is a great cook. Every Saturday night she cooks empanadas, which people from around the community come to buy. Everyone says she cooks the best empanadas, and I agree. They are delicious. She is also very kind, and is such a hard worker. Here in Paraguay the women do almost everything. She cooks, cleans, washes clothes, looks after the animals, buys everything needed for the house and small store they own, and manages the store. We have similar personality types, so we get along great.
My host brother’s name is Augusto. He is 31 years old and is incredibly smart. He attended University but had to drop out in order to provide for his wife and child. Now he’s divorced, well more like separated because they aren’t officially divorced, but is still a great dad to Junior, his son, my nephew. I would say he is a general technician. He knows how to install and repair heating and air systems, plumbing, electrical, among other types of systems. He can also repair appliances, televisions, computers, and other electronics. He also is good on the software side of computers. He works for a HVAC company and also is co-owner of another general repair company. Apart from being incredibly handy and a great dad, he is very kind, always willing to lend a helping hand, open minded, and knows a little about everything. Already we’ve had several deep conversations relating to politics, history, economic development, and the nature of the education, health, and cooperative system in Paraguay. He goes to great lengths to help me out and make sure I’m comfortable. I couldn’t ask for a better brother.
My host sister lives in a house right next to our house. Her name is Mirian. Mirian is incredibly caring and works very hard around her house and mine. She washes my clothes and cleans my room. She is basically a magician. I fell in a mud hole one night and my shoes were basically one big pile of mud, and within a few days they looked as good as the day I bought them. Mirian is married to Eladio. Together they have 2 daughters, Mary and Fabiola. Mary is 7 years old and Fabiola about 5 years old. Mary is very smart and talks like an auctioneer. I can barely understand a word that comes out of her mouth so I have to remind her often to slow down when talking to me. I taught Mary how to play Go Fish and she loves it. She is constantly asking to play “pesca,” which is Spanish for Go Fish. Fabiola is the love of my life. She is very outgoing and constantly laughing and playing. We get along so great. She is already thinking of the day when I will leave and has told her Mom that she doesn’t want me to go. Every day she waits for me to come home from class outside her house or mine. When she sees me coming she lets out a loud and strung out “BRAAAAAAAD.” I recently left for a few days and she gave me a picture to remember her by while I was gone. She also gave me this little house made of Popsicle sticks. We dance and play a lot together and whenever I hear her cry or seem upset, I’m quick to respond and be by her side to comfort her and make her feel better.
Hector is my older brother. He lives in a house a little behind our house. Hector is a hard-worker and likes to joke around. He owns a small business recycling paper behind our house. He basically buys mixed paper and cardboard by the kilo from printers and other businesses who generate a lot of this type of product, bags it up and brings it home in a truck. Then he and about 5 other jokesters stand around a table separating out the paper into different piles. Then he bags those up and sells them to a big factory for more than he purchased it. He says work is like a game for him. Plus working is fun because it’s just a bunch of guys working together. While working they joke a lot, listen to music, and take a lot of breaks to eat or drink terrere (more on terrere later). Hector is the oldest son. He drinks his fair share, and used to fight a lot. Apparently he is quite the fighter. He told me some crazy stories and this one guy he taught a lesson to makes sure to say hello and asks how he is doing every time he sees him. But Hector, like most Paraguayans, has a good heart. He gave me an agenda to use for my homework assignments, and he carried me with him to Asuncion to buy paper. I felt like a little kid again. He took care of me the whole day. I felt like a little kid again riding along with my grandpa, Papa D. He would point out houses and work places of our family and explain how we are related. He also showed me the major markets in Asuncion, the Coca Cola factory, and even took me to the Yogurt factory to try yogurt. Hector is married and has 3 children. Paulo is 18, Jessica is going on 17 soon, and Jacqueline is 12. I really like to hang out with them. They are my nephews but feel more like cousins. Paulo is really helpful, curious, and playful. He likes to run around barefooted. He lacks just a little bit to graduate High School. He dropped out, but later decided he wanted to go back but his Dad won’t let him because of financial concerns along with the fact that he quit. Jessica is in High School, and wants to either be a doctor, a model, or a veterinarian. I told her this would probably change many more times but the important thing is to go to college period. Jacqueline is very shy. She doesn’t talk much, but she is very kind-hearted. She gives me candy and is always quick to help out when she sees an opportunity to do so. I think I’m breaking through her shy exterior though because she is talking to me more and more, and we hug every time we see each other.
I have two more sisters, Miguelina and Nilda. Miguelina has a daughter named Jennifer. Jennifer lived in my room for about a year while her Mom was working in Spain. Now, her Mom is back and is teaching Spanish and Guarani in a school not too far from my house. Miguelina is the most sophisticated of the bunch. She speaks more properly, seems more educated, and dresses nicely. She is very nice. She likes to correct my Spanish. I actually love it because I learn a lot when I’m around her. Nilda has a son named Darwen. I haven’t seen much of them. They live in a town over from ours. They come over ever so often to eat lunch. I can tell Nilda is very kind-hearted and somewhat shy. Nilda’s husband, Tony is a great guy. I recently went to their house for Nilda’s birthday party. Their house is very humble, yet Darwen has a ton of great quality books and even a computer. His Dad invests in his education and makes big sacrifices in order to do so. Paraguay could use a lot more fathers like Tony. He also loves American music, primarily classic rock from the 70’s.
That’s my family. I love them. We have tons of fun together, and they are all incredibly nice. I have 5 siblings. I guess I’m making up for being an only child now. I love having a close brother and sister. It’s a unique relationship I’ve never experienced before. I don’t know how I will leave these people because I have grown to love them so much in such a short amount of time.