August 9 I celebrated my birthday in Paraguay (for the second time). That means, I’ve been in Paraguay for more than a year. Wow. Take a second to let that sink in. As I’ve heard other Volunteers say, the days go by so slowly, but the weeks and months fly.
It was a truly unforgettable birthday. I’ll give you the play by play.
Text messages begin as the morning sunlight is barely entering my room. I hear from community members, Volunteers. My host family calls. Santiago’s family calls and sings to me. I had been quiet in my community about my birthday, not wanting too much attention. But at the day’s leather goods class, I got big hugs and kisses. They made me feel very special indeed.
My parents called and we chatted for a good while. I told them about how my birthday party came about.
Originally for my birthday I was going to cook dinner with some friends at my house. But my host family was very concerned that I spend the day with them on my special day. I wasn’t going to argue! So we joined forces and had a double party.
So for the evening time…a couple of my Volunteer friends arrived and we prepared the goodies for our half of the dinner: tequila lime chicken tacos including lettuce, cheese, sour cream, pico de gallo and olives. Plus a bottle of wine. And my host family served pizza, soda and a delicious cake. We shared the grub and had a very international (and filling) dinner. I lost track of just what all I ate it was so good.
It was a thrill to have my friends visit and get to know my host family. And I could tell just how proud my host family was of me and to show that care to my friends. I felt truly blessed.
Karin made my birthday cake. We sang Happy Birthday in three languages (Spanish, English, Guaraní). Though I have been at a birthday party recently where we sang it in five languages (throw in Korean and Japanese). Wowsers!
The birthday dinner was a hoot. There was lots of fun conversation and storytelling about how I was when I first arrived in Valenzuela. The evening had a very reminiscent feel. Nikki reminded my host mom that I was somewhat scared of her after our first meeting. That’s so funny to think of now. But then again, they probably thought I was mute.
Also, our get-together was unique on account of Nikki’s little sister from the States coming along. She was able to talk my little host sister! They used Google Translator (and a very slow internet connection to talk to one another) and Karin was able to speak the English that I had taught her! They also watched Nickelodeon and bonded over thinking that the same boys are cute. Let’s hear it for cultural exchange!
Here’s one of my super lindo birthday presents! A leather termo and matching guampa. Everyone say, “OOoooooh. Que lindo!” The day after the party, you can bet that a big tereré circle was necessary for rehydrating.