Yesterday I was caught by the differences, but today I was made very comfortabl by an unexpected similarity: Food. This is odd because food is one of the areas where nationalities display their uniqueness and where people are most sensative. The scene in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom where the female lead is offered the chilled monkey brains illustrates our fears quite nicely.
This morning we went to Superseis (Super-6), one of the local supermarkets, to buy come groceries. They have a little deli, similar to the one at Wal-Mart, where you can buy prepared food. There our cook/driver for the morning Cynthia pointed out a tradional Paraguayan dish. It was rectangular in shape and golden brown on the top. We brought it home, cut a piece from it, and gave it a taste. Corn bread. Maybe another ingredient or two, but corn bread never the less.
Cynthia whipped us up a lunch that included fried pork chops, rice, and roasted chicken all like my Momma would've done when I was growing up.
We also tried some mandioca (cassava) root that wasn't half bad. It's like boiled potatoes. It's very popular here and I can see why. It's good comfort-food.
One unexpected challenge is having someone to cook for us. The food is wonderful. The people are great. But it has been hard to let other people wait on us. I can hear you laughing, saying "Oh, yeah, I bet it's hard." But we've habitually taken care of ourselves for years. The "do it yourself" thing has been firmly ensconced in us--Jean and me at least, mainly Jean.
The students are smart, well-spoken, comfortable with the teachers, and like to talk to each other. That part is a challenge, but we, students and teacher, are learning.