Right before I left, and in a state of mild panic about my nearly utter failure to learn Spanish before spending three months in South America ostensibly to facilitate the evaluation and reform of a high school curriculum, my friend Seth made a few predictions. He said:
1. You’ll come back speaking fluent Guarani
2. You’ll be super dark
3. You won’t want to eat anything
My Progress so far:
1. Well, I suppose it's progress that I can now tell when the students are speaking Spanish and when they are speaking Guarani. Does that count?
2. Mmm…not much chance of this one, considering that I wrap myself in three layers just to keep from shivering and the sun didn’t show its face for 5 days after I arrived.
3. This one might just be true. The food at the school is, shall we say, simple. Breakfast consists of “cocina con leche,” a sweet, marginally creamy drink concocted as far as I can gather [from straining the contents of the giant pot it’s prepared in every morning] from the remnants of last night’s fire [not the ashes, just the charcoal] and dried yerba, and two small rolls [one of the few things we eat that’s not actually produced at the school—it’s just too hard to make rolls for 170 people every morning in an outdoor brick oven] It’s actually very tasty, though not particularly filling, and a bit short on protein. Lunch is almost always some sort of soup, often with either some sort of pasta or rice, one or two small chunks of meat per bowl, and a salad of lettuce and tomato. [The produce is all grown here and quite tasty. My fellow intern Tim, who has never had homegrown produce, continually marvels at the flavor of the tomatoes.] Come to think of it, dinner is usually much the same, but substitute a “tortilla” for the salad [here, tortillas are thick-ish fried eggy bread made with corn, sesame and wheat flours and an impressive quantity and variety of ground-up vegetables. Sounds odd. But they’re very good.] There’s virtually no eating between meals, because there’s no where to get food between meals. And truth be told, I think the kids are often hungry, especially between breakfast and lunch.