Change Yourself…Change The World.

April 20, 2013, 2:29 am
Filed under: Paraguay

I’m posting at 3:30 AM, so I may not be completely coherent while writing this. But sometimes those feelings just grab you in the moment, and you would rather write them down then let them go.

I rode on a bus for 10 hours today. My first 5-hour trip was at 6:00 AM this morning, when I went to the capital of Paraguay for an interview for a job post-Peace Corps. Turns out I had mistaken the day of the interview, so there was nothing left to do but turn around and get right back on another 5-hour bus to Caazapá!

And truthfully, if I had made the same mistake 2 years ago and had to travel on a bus for 10 hours for no reason, I would probably be pretty miserable and frustrated about the whole deal. Today, all I did was laugh. Life is sometimes so ridiculous that there’s nothing else to do but laugh, and find humor in crazy situations.

So I was sitting on this 5-hour bus ride back to Caazapá on my dingy little bus line ‘La Yuteña,’ the kind where the seats are caked in I-don’t-even-want-to-know-what and when someone puts their seat back it falls onto your lap. And this bus was packed to the brim, as usual, with babies and children on every spare person’s lap, and adults lining the aisles. And yet, I felt totally relaxed and peaceful. I didn’t listen to music. I didn’t get bogged down by the 20-mile-an-hour bus ride, or the apparently drunk guy stumbling over my seat every few minutes. I just sat there in peaceful silence. I waved and smiled to a few of my fellow Caazapeños that happened to be on the bus with me, and offered them Ritz Bits cheese crackers I had gotten in the capital.

Okay, maybe this doesn’t sound like a big deal at all. Big whoop, I sat on a bus for five hours. But you know what? I spent a lot of time on the bus thinking about how much my experience in the Peace Corps has changed me. A bus ride like this that used to be so unfamiliar and uncomfortable, and at times frustrating, now felt totally normal. None of those little things didn’t get to me- at all. I just watched the stars out, and felt content on yet another bus ride back to my site. Back to my home.

And in that moment, I realized that Paraguay is now more of a home to me than the United States. Sometimes I feel that I can’t even identify with the United States anymore- everything I read in the news are about shootings or bombings, or congress blocking bills that over 90% of the American people want. I watch movies such as ‘This Is 40’ which is about an insanely wealthy and successful American couple who have beautiful children and a wonderful lifestyle, yet bicker and curse at each other every single second that they can. Is that supposed to entertaining? I’m disgusted. Or I read articles about the glorification of ‘busy’ and cringe about returning to such a narrow-minded definition of success.

Paraguay is not perfect by any means. But there are so many truly beautiful things that I love about this country- loving your neighbors, the meaning of community, spending quality time with people you love (and not hiding behind a technological device while doing it), living fully in the present, not defining success by what job you have or how much money you make, going with the flow.

Paraguay has made me more patient, more present, and kinder. It has helped me so much to see that the important things in life are not how much you make and own, or how you are defined by what you do. I never want to forget that. And in that moment on the bus ride, I felt so sad that in a few short months, this will no longer be my reality. Caazapá will no longer be my home. La Yuteña will no longer be my main form of transportation. I will no longer spend my days on lawn chairs, drinking tereré and chatting with my Paraguayan friends.

I guess the point of this post is two-fold. One, the Peace Corps is so hard, and it never, ever stops. You are first so overwhelmed with the raw experience and adjusting to such a foreign place, and it never lets up. And then when you finally start to get comfortable, finally start to make friends and family, finally start to understand, finally start to call this place your home— you must leave.

Two, though it was never easy, I will always love this experience that the Peace Corps gave me, and there is a part of me that will always always think of Paraguay as home. And even though I still have my days where I am really frustrated with the way things can be here– I never, ever want to forget how much I love Paraguay, and how much this country has taught me.

Yesterday, one of my closest friends in the Peace Corps and site-mate, Zoe, left Caazapá and finished her service. She has been with me in Caazapá since Day 1, so this is a big transition for me. It has made it more than ever apparent to me that I’m up next. 103 days left to go.

You get a strange feeling when you’re about to leave a place… like you’ll not only miss the people you love but you’ll miss the person you are now at this time and this place, because you’ll never be this way ever again.
-Azar Nafisi

4 Comments so far
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well Im awake right now as I travel back to the USA to visit family and I recall a little exchange between an aspirante and a 1 year in country volunteer. I could never imagine that what you are saying could be so true. It’s aweinspiring, the journey IS the reward.

Comment by virginia

I’m so happy that Paraguay has made such a positive impact on your life. You are such an amazing individual! Live it up while you’re still there and enjoy it to the fullest.

But I have to say, Sonoma in particular sounds a lot like how you just described Paraguay : the importance of community, and enjoying life, not getting bogged down by technology (well, I guess I’m still struggling with that, which is why I deleted my FB this morning), so if you ever need an interim place to get re-adjusted, we’d love to have you. I LOVE YOU BRITTANY! – Liz & Danny

Comment by Liz

You’re too sweet. So wonderful to feel loved ❤ Love you guys!!!!!!!!

Comment by brittanygoesglobal

Hi Brit: Your life has been fascinating, not only to you, but to all of us in the family as we see a different view of the world through your eyes. The enrichment of your life through this experience and the transformation you have undergone is priceless. As you ready yourself for the next chapter of your life, now the question is how will you leverage this experience into your next career move? What lies ahead? How can you connect the dots between where you have been, what you have learned and what you want to accomplish? For yourself? Others? We are all so proud of you. Love Gramps

Comment by Don Boroian

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