Saturday, July 5, 2008

I went to the U.S. for one day!

As you all know, yesterday was Independence Day. One advantage of being here is that the American Embassy invites all the Peace Corps members to its 4th of July party. I honestly thought that it was going to be lame as all. I´ve been to several embassies in my life, including the American Embassy in China, but most are just compounds full of office buildings. The American Embassy in Paraguay, however, is the 2nd largest in the world! That´s right, in the middle of Paraguay, of all places, is the 2nd biggest American Embassy (after the one in Iraq of course). This goes back to Stroessner, the dictator who ruled over Paraguay for 35 years. The US had great relations with him (of course) during the Cold War, because he was anti Communist and would use the ¨Cuba threat¨ to his advantage. Also, Paraguay has a very strategic location in the middle of Latin America, with Brazil, Bolivia, and Argentina as its neighbors. The point of this story is that the American Embassy here is huge! It honestly is more of a country club than an embassy, complete with a basketball court, a volleyball court, and 2 swimming pools! So I officially left Paraguayan soil yesterday and entered US territory for the 4th of July party, and it was a blast! They had hamburgers, hot dogs, veggie burgers, mac&cheese, potato salad, and brownies, all prepared American style. The lawn was decorated with American flags and red, white, and blue (for the American flag, not the Paraguayan one which has the same colors). Even the radio statio was straight from the U.S. We played in a volleyball tournament where we were absolutely demolished by the Paraguayan police team (Paraguayans are absolutely amazing at volleyball, in part because they cheat by carrying the ball and playing with their feet...but still they´re gooooood). I know they say cultural sensitivity, but it was nice to celebrate Independence Day the American way, with a picnic and beautiful weather (it´s been unseasonably hot for winter). We ended the day by squeezing 19 people (18 volunteers and one technical trainer) into one van. So here´s wishing everyone a belated happy July 4th!

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