Monday, December 29, 2008

mmmm.... Vacacion!!

So, we're on break for another month and while I've had some time to reflect and rest, and do some planning, I have another few weeks of good work to do yet before I am ready for the kids to come back next semester. It amazes me how exhausting this job is, not in the physical sense entirely, but also very much in a mental/psychological one. I am finding that I had forgotten what it felt like to regularly get 8 hours of sleep a night and wake without stress. It is a beautiful thing.

First impressions, retrospectively... All those beautiful lessons we learned in ed classes about structuring units and using various forms of evaluation throughout... whoah... novel idea. I feel like I'm learning them like a middle schooler learns bagpipes... yeah... I watched braveheart... I know what it's supposed to sound like... but holy cow... what are those ghastly honks and screeches... Still... I trust that even those honks and screeches become music in time. The struggle ensuing from my coached efforts to plan for next semester's classes with still 5 weeks of vacation ahead of me has been interesting. I simultaneously feel the excitement of creating something I know I'll be glad to have later (no sarcasm here... I really do feel it), and exasperating disdain towards the monotony of the task (less the hotfoot of imminent purpose) and fear under the self-given accusation of futility. This struggle is part of my buisiness in this cocoon however, and I prayerfully step forwards, hoping that tomorrow can be both more enjoyable and more productive than was yesterday.

I finally got around to making a flute yesterday. Makes me happy. I'll have to post video of my canopy-level porch and hammock where I read and play music in the evenings. Mmmmm.... It's a beautiful thing. Sounds like some resort or something somewhere... it's not exactly that... but it's nice. You'll see.

I bought a wok. boo yah. Cooking excursions just got that much more exciting. On today's menu... fried noodles... with ginger chicken, green peppers and onions in a peanut-orange sauce... it... was... amazing... here's to google searches in a connected world. Dan (English teacher) and I discovered a great chinese grocery-esque store near the mercado here in town.

It's been a blessing hearing from those of you at home via skype these past few days. I'm usually connected, so even if I'm not there, feel free to drop a line. In one of those conversations, it came up that very few of you have my mailing addy so... here it is:

Regular ole' city mail

Hans Burkholder
c/o Asuncion Christian Academy
Casilla 1562 - C.P. 1209
Asuncion - Paraguay

Courier (Faster and Safer, but pricey on my end)

Asuncion Christian Academy
Attn: Hans Burkholder
7331 Nw 35th St.
Suite MC 30063
Miami FL 33122

Use the courier if you want to send something particularly valuable, perishable, or both
Otherwise, just use the normal one.

... or just ask me and I'll advise.

Peace, love, and petals,

-That Hans

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Zen of Rotten Worms...

So... I must relate a story... which will forever be linked with my first-year teaching experiences. We were doing a unit on worms this past month, and I though it would be a fantastic experience for the kids to get inside of one, so I obtained a small packet of fishing worms. How to kill them though... Live bugs, you would gas... but live worms? I opted for drowning them... I figured, they come up when it rains because they need to still be able to breath through their skin. Even so, they usually die all over the sidewalks.... so... drowning should work... I put the worms in a small tub of water, and as an afterthought, added a splash of ethyl alcohol, just for good measure... The next day, the worms were dead as I had hoped... slimy at worst, and with an ambient odor of alcoholic worm poo. I was well pleased.

We began the lab 7th period, but explaining things, and observing the external structures took the whole period. (Cest la vi... when each class only gets 50 min) No big deal, thought I, we can just stash the dissection mats in the fridge in the back of the prep room. It wasn't running, but I'd seen that it was still unplugged from break. I had some detainees for an hour that day, so I put them to cleaning out the fridge and plugging it in. I came back to a well cleaned, humming fridge, full of neatly organized worm-dissections-on-hold. Perfect.

The next morning was cool and pleasant when I opened the refrigerator door... to be met by a wave of air as hot as the previous afternoon, though far, far fouler. ::shudder:: If imaginations could bring bile to the back of your throat... I would hold some hope of you being able to share that moment with me... but... just... be grateful. Gag. Apparently the fridge hadn't been working for some eons. The possibility of this reality had passed through my mind... but my optimism had ushered it on through without buying anything.

So... when 7th period rolled around again... I was still debating whether or not to scrap the project... but I decided the experience was still worth something... even if it was a bit more of a trial than it otherwise would have been. I warned the class of the situation when they came in... but assured them that it was just becasue the worms had been sitting in poopy water for two days. I acknowledged that the smell would be overpowering at first, but that they would get used to it. In reality... the worms were definitely rotting.

We brought out the worms... and the class emptied, gagging into the quad. After some further assurance, I managed to coax/herd/prod everyone back into the classroom. After the initial desperate scrabble to fashion crude gas-masks out of paper towels and packing tape, everyone muscled up to the task. I was very impressed and pleased. The worms were in various stages of degradation... the majority were still dissectible. Beyond some slime, you could cut individual tissue layers, and identify most of the major organs. Some though... particularly the smaller ones... ::shudder:: just a squggley line of rotten flesh on a little blue mat. No hope whatsoever for those.

Fortunately we had an excellent series of photos of a professionally dissected earthworms projected on the wall... so if there was any question in a lab group concerning the identity of a little blob of rotting slime in a particular region of the worm... the totally grossed out lab partner could be of some service, venturing some hopeful identification based on the more intact specimen in the photo.

I eggagerate here very little. The smell was so bad that students from other classes were coming into the room after school, just to watch, and test their grit against the titanic odor.

I laugh about it now... but it was the kind of smell that got into your nose and stayed there for a day. UGH. Some of the kids were really into it though... less than a half-dozen, but the others participated admirably. I was very proud of them.

Log that one in the books... Hey Hans... remember that time you had your first biology class dissect rotting fermented worms? ::shudder::

The curious thing is... I think they did BETTER work as a result of knowing that they were walking into adversity. So much of the time... they just float in, expecting to have to do as little as necessary to appease the powers that be... If I could get them to study all the time like they were cutting open rotten worms... man.

Maybe I should just bring in a soupy bucket of them and leave them at the back of the room for a few weeks... and see how things go.


Saturday, August 30, 2008

Physics, fish, soccer

This evening finds me tired, though rested, gratefully looking forward at the latter two thirds of a three day weekend.

Today Jon and I went out driving with a Paraguayan friend who teaches here. We are planning a fish fry/cookout tomorrow night and so Elder (the friend) drove us ~30 minutes to the place he usually buys his raw fish. We went to a small fish market in the town where he grew up. When we pulled out, a handfull of middle-aged ladies walked up to the car compelling us to buy fish from them. Elder talked with the salesladies, while Jon and I were free to poke around the market. There were fish of all types there... from meter long lunkers to oddly shaped catfish like none I'd ever seen. One in particular was fascinating. It was definitely a catfish of some kind, but had broad, black and white stripes, and an exxageratedly long and flat head. Elder says he's going to take us fishing on the river sometime. I would love to hook something like that. The tone of the place was pitch-perfect. The posture and shuffle of the fish-ladies rung of the integrity of the experience. They weren't actors in some movie, type cast to be believable... they were home. This was their place, and they fit it. Their husbands' worn wooden boats moored just behind the stand weren't there for effect. They were there from bringing the morning fish in for sale... yet they had effect... a free gift of the real. Beside the fish market was a small restaurant with outdoor dining, where a live band was playing Paraguayan music. I watched them from a distance, and would have loved to sit in a chair there for a few hours, but I thought our freshly bought "El Dorado" would've complained from the back of the car... I thought it best to get it home and into the fridge, so I didn't say anything to Elder.

We drove then around his town a bit, as he waved and honked to cousins and friends who animatedly gestured towards him as we passed. We met his dad and mom. He said his entire family lived there in that town. He is dating an American girl. I asked him if he would ever come back to live. He said no. It made me a bit sad inside. I thought the place was beautiful.
From there we went to a park nearby where another friend of ours from the school named Victor (also Paraguayan) was playing soccer with a group of friends. They were crazy good. I watched them play with fascination beyond the game. This place felt so different than the soccer fields I've seen in the states. The guys playing it wore mismatched jerseys. Victor's was from ACA. I think he coached our team last year. He fit there. He was good too. But it wasn't the players, or their garb, or the field, or the ball, or the surroundings that held me back so fascinated... it was everything at once. It was like the negative of a moment of fascination... rather than the game being in focus, the peripheral jumped out, and the presence of the action seemed taken for granted. I tried to explain the moment to Jon and Elder... but didn't quite find the words... The game felt like... an old hat that you've been wearing for years... when you put it on. It's been on your head so much that you don't think of it as being a hat... it just goes on your head, and it feels like it has a thousand times, but only feels that way because of the other 999 times that you've worn it, and you wonder if it might feel the same way about sliding onto your head as you do about putting it there. I watched that ball kick up little clouds of dust from bare spots in the field worn through by cleats and feets of semi-pros and tweens alike, and then puff again off the shin of some agile footballer. And this soccer ball was different to. It didn't have lines. They'd been worn of months ago, at least, maybe years. I'm pretty sure they had worn the seams off of it too (but it never slowed enough for me to know for sure) leaving just a dusty white orb spinning through space, tying together everything it touched, in some mystical romance of right-ness. And I think these guys are happy playing soccer. Matter of fact... I'm fairly certain of it. I wonder what we have in the states like that... I'm sure we have things. But... it does me good to get third-person perspective on the beauty of it. It's hard to see a picture when you're in it.

The photo above and right: I'm not in this one. These are some of my students working on a physics lab. I'm discovering labs to be much much better than lecturing... but I think there's a balance in there somewhere. This lab was really effective after a solid week of seemingly worthless lecturing. I really don't know how to teach physics, no matter how much I love the subject. It'll take some time, I think. Church tomorrow. Gotta sleep.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Into the flow

Wow. I can't believe I've been here nearly 4 weeks already. Amazing.
Teaching is going well, but I must say I am learning by leaps and bounds. Not that my lessons are improving by leaps and bounds... but they are improving as I am frequently making new mistakes it seems. Nothing catastrophic... just things like... feeling out the difference in relationships between different classes, and learning how to approach the ones that I am afraid of with more courage, and learning what it means to "stand in my honest condition" in each one... something I was challenged to by Parker Palmer. I keep wanting to be a "good teacher" but the harder I try, the more I realize that playing the role of a "good teacher" only drives my students farther from quality learning experiences. This isn't a new realization for me, but I am struggling with it intimately right now... learning my opponent, if you will. Rolling fears and insecurities around in my mouth, until I really understand their taste, and trying to find practical disciplines that will deal with them effectively.

My access to resources here is good, but my confidence in accessing them is somewhat less, as my Spanish is limited. The stuff is there, all around me in the cities, and the net, but my lessons have been slightly more traditional than the ones I worked on for student teaching. Pray that I would not limit my horizons in creating these learning experiences for the kids. My goal was to have labs frequently, but I've only managed a few so far, as the planning and setup aspect of lab work is considerably more than a regular class. Also, classes are only 40 min. long, so a full-blown lab is difficult to manage.
The kids are absolutely fantastic though. I am THOROUGHLY enjoying getting to know them.

I sat this evening with the new student teacher who just got in from Indiana sipping Yerba Mate and munching on Chipas (a crispy Paraguayan cheese-bread snack) and it really hit me how incredible this place is. I lifted up two paths to God before coming here, one for a job at JFH Middle in Broadway that I thought was a perfect fit, and this one which I wanted, but seemed like such an ethereal possibility in a faraway place... Both were good options... The VA job I applied for in good time, and e-mailed the principal, but heard not so much as a peep from. This one worked out despite a number of footfalls and uncertainty. So... the gravitation that brought me here rather than Home... I believe to be the hand of God... and here... I am seeing how incredibly these experiences seem to be tailored to fit my desires, scab over my weaknesses, utilize my gifts... stretch my good muscles while allowing the bruised ones some space to rest. My gratitude to God for this.... this whole picture... is hard to articulate... but I feel it pushing up in my chest... sliding my adams apple farther up the neck... that choked up feeling you get when you see something so beautiful that you can't even breathe... because you know that the next sound over your tongue should by all right express something that you know there are no words for.

Thanks for your love... keep me updated!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

First week of school...

Cell phone number: (But I'm out of minutes, so don't call right now. )


Well, as of Monday morning, I am officially a payed professional educator! hahahaha. Wow. Who saw that coming? Methinks... things have begun well. I was, of course, terrified beyond description the first day, though. The classes are nicely sized, but the sizes range from 4 (Senior Physics) to 18 (Freshman Biology & Bible). I've had my share of expected new-teacher foibles, including one class in which I completely forgot to take roll (day 1) until halfway through class. It was awkward. I got partway through and realized I didn't know the name of a single student I was talking to. I was like... uh... wow... sorry. Today was better with them though, and the rest of the classes have been fine. I am particularly excited about the group of seniors, because the dialogue in the class is very different... much more relaxed. I think because there are only a few of them, it is less threatening to me, showing me a different teaching demeanor that I much prefer, and hope to apply as much as possible to the larger classes. I am enjoying very much the freedom to teach from my whole perspective, rather than having to censor myself. The wonder I feel towards the natural world is a God-centered endeavor for me... not because I study science to prove anything to myself or to anyone else, but rather because studying science to me is like staring into a piece of his intimate work... and coming to know the natural world is a means of coming to know a piece of the mind of God. I can express that awe freely here... and it makes my teaching feel much more complete and genuine. But please continue to pray for me, there is much work left to do...

Wednesday, July 30, 2008


Well... this has been my life for the past two days. Inventory. They just remodeled my classroom within the last year, so the lab benches are some really beautiful stone material, and they've got a fume hood, gas hookups for the bunson burners, new paint, tile, cabinets and stools. It's really an excellent space! The back room (the doorway of which I am eclipsing in the picture) was full of like... 50 years worth of decaying, scattered lab equipment, chemicals, specimens, etc... so I have made it priority number one to get things organized. I am also interested to know what sorts of resources I have at hand, so that my lesson plans can build out of that knowledge in the next week or so as I develop them more fully.

Today was the first all-teacher workday so I have been meeting lots of new faces. It's been really fun seeing the diverse walks of life represented just on staff. There are representatives from all over the States and Paraguay. The Mid. Grades science teacher is from England and has an awesome accent. I really enjoy them so far, and they seem to enjoy each other as well. This is a plus. I really like to feel that community forming. I know it's early, but it's encouraging to see.

They tell me the kids are generally very well-behaved and hard working, but everyone has a story or two to tell who has been here for any length of time. Many are Asian, specifically Korean and Chinese. They say one of the main problems they have generally is cheating, but especially among this group. I am told it is a cultural difference... that the Asian student's see it more as helping your friends, supporting each other, rather than being dishonest. Hmm...

The alcohol policy and dress codes here are pretty strict. The kids are used to it by now, I guess. It sure will be different from BCS, that's for sure. We are supposed to contact parents, not all of which speak English. That'll be new too. My spanish is improving, but not nearly that good yet. Hmm... generally, I feel incredibly well cared for in the Master's hand, and am still in awe of the perfection of His provision for me thus far in the trip. Continue to pray this week as I plan my lessons for the first few weeks, and finish organizing things in the room. Organization is not my strong suit, but it is a Focus Correction Area for me these first few months.

Overall, I am anticipating. I've got some good resources to work with, and some intriguing ideas to try out, but I am a first year teacher, and am not exempt from the numerous faux pa's that we newbies inevitably seem to make. I love you guys. Skype me!


Saturday, July 26, 2008

First Impressions

Today I got a bus tour around town. At first I was a little discouraged, drawn inside myself thinking how huge this city was, and wondering if I would ever be able to really just go out and make it on my own... meeting all the new people that there were to meet and making good impressions... knowing the map well enough to keep track of all the buslines... learning the culture well enough to not offend people unwittingly... having the confidence to speak with native speakers... the people I want to know the most here, but the people I feel the least default connection to. I absolutely have enjoyed the Americans here, and will cherish and need them to work here well, but I share more with them already, and I know that the greatest growth for me will probably come through relationships that cross cultural boundaries. Pray for these relationships. I played soccer with a group yesterday and had a blast, though my soccer skills are limited. I would love to try to speak more with those guys, but it's so much easier not to. This evening I was with Livio and Dan B. (another teacher here) grilling ribs and sausage and eating a cheese-bread-like food called "chipa." What a time. Tomorrow I go to a Mennonite Church here in town, and then play tennis with Dan. Also pray that God would give me insight, as I am finishing up some work for school... There have been a million things rolling around in my head, some things I was able to jot down in pictures in the airport, but the stage of articulating those pictures into words, and revising-fine tuning the paper is tedious, and requires my honest focus. I don't want to just blow steam either... and I know it can be easy to do. Pray that I can apply my mind honorably to this. I want to be done... but I'd rather be well done.

Thursday, July 24, 2008


Whelp. You guessed it. I am here at last! Wow... I cannot begin to describe in any series of words what this feels like. It's like Costa Rica, Japan, and China, only more real... more exciting... more scary. The had of the Lord continues to amaze me in the perfection of his provision. Not only did my travel experience go off without a hitch, I met SO many people along the way that were absolutely a blessing to me. Thanks Rhonda for encouraging me to risk talking to strangers before my college experience. Anyway.... in DC, I met a girl flying to Argentina with no plans beyond finding some place to teach English and then living down there for 3 months. I was emboldened. On the plane I sat beside another college student on her way to Buenos Aires for a business internship. She had previously been in Australia doing similar work. She slept the whole flight. She was pretty boring. In Argentina, I shared many hours of my layover with a middle-aged woman from Asuncion who had been visiting family in the states. We practice language. She was wonderfully kind and friendly, inviting me to visit her and her family (she has a son my age). She gave me her name and number and told me to leave a message with her housekeeper if she wasn' t in. She said her driver could pick me up. I think she had some money. Later in my layover, I met a student from Asuncion who had atteneded ACA's rival english-speaking school. He told me different organizations I could visit to learn more about the region's biology. He also said to look him up after he returns from the states (after 15 day vacation) and gave me his contact info. On the plane to Asuncion, I met an engineer from outside the city who told me about Guarani. In the airport, going through customs, I met a PhD candidate from MIT who was doing social science research in Paraguay regarding implementation of Sustainable Agriculture methods. I told him what I was doing, and mentioned that I might like him to come and talk to our class at sometime. He gave me his card.
I also read a reflective book by Donald Miller about his experiences transitioning into life beyond school and some of his preconcieved notions, and how God met him along the way. So... as you can see... it's been a really busy 30 hours of travel. When not sleeping with folded knees and neck twisted at 90 degrees, I was watching God provide and listening to Him teach. I'm REALLY tired. But I have SO much to be thankful for right now! Thanks for those who have been praying for me. I will update you with more soon!

Monday, July 21, 2008

No promises regarding the coherence of this post. I am blissfully exhausted at the end of yet another amazing, very full day. I have been enjoying immensely the blessings of family in this new setting, and challeneged by how different that setting is from my usual element. I am awed by the perfection of the Lord's provision for me here, as Baltimore has provided an excellent middle-step for me on my way to PY. The city environment here was at first intimidating and scary, but marauding about with Kerwin, Brian, and Rhonda has given me great courage in striking out on my own.
Icing on the cake: Four friends from Equador visited R&K a few days ago, three of which spoke essentially no english. We spent a fantastic evening together, eating, laughing, playing music and, for a time, moving me past my inhibitions towards practicing my language skills with native speakers. It was a perfect crash course, an amazing primer, and ultimately left me thrilled about the opportunity to learn and use the Spanish language with increasing fluency.
Thankfully, details have continued to fall into place. I pray God will continue to provide and lead, as there are many more details yet to manage.
Day after tomorrow, I fly.

Friday, July 11, 2008


On any given day in the natural world... things are changing.

I can watch a rabbit hop across my path, grass be blown by the wind. Over the course of a day, see a flower bloom. Over the course of weeks, plants grow. Over the course of months fruits flower, produce, drop. Over the course of years, succession occurs, populations dynamically ebb and flow. Trees become large and stately. Windfalls rot and disappear. Over the course of centuries, species invade, choke others out, erosion shapes the land. On a astronomical time frame, stars are born, burn out and die. Yet... if lay before our eyes as time lapse footage... we could see the change occurring as motion. We are used to understanding change as measured between phenomena. I am an inch taller than last year when marked against the wall in Grandpa's garage. Chestnut trees are gone, whereas 500 years ago they were dominant in the American forest. If Betelgeuse goes supernova in our lifetime, it'll be one of the most phenomenal astronomical events in recorded history. In this very moment, however, if I were to go outside and take a snapshot, I have not captured a still moment in time, I have taken a frame... a moment when each of those natural time lapse films crosses.... or a cross section of all playing side-by side. The rabbit caught mid-jump is no more or less in a state of motion than the grass over which it jumps... even though it's change relative to the march of time may be quicker. I am pausing all change simultaneously in that image. Photos are odd things.

Really... our lives are every bit the same vibrant enigmas. In this moment, I am not an identity as much as a cross section of a thousand processes. My age, position, emotional climate, faith, knowledge, attitudes, skin color, wardrobe, family interactions, skills, pets, posessions, etc, etc, are continually changing around and through me. And as they effect me, they (especially the human element) is changing in the same way that I am. So... no wonder our identities are such difficult things to grasp in hand. The only lasting stability our identities may have is from the love of One outside the films... the filmmaker if you will... who alone knows every frame because we were His idea in the first place. And yet, somehow He knew the beauty of fragility... the definitive need for a story to have both a "once upon a time" and a "the end."

It's a wonderfully fascinating thing to consider... and gives breathtaking pause... when we realize that each of our glowing, pulsating, flowing, experiencing, changing existances are allowed to touch, for only a moment, another of similar nature. Then, when all that exorbitant complexity bound in each one is tied to a thousand or more inputs and outputs of similar complexity... it forms a net that incorporates every human soul on the face of the planet in some degree, and makes knowing even a single one of us in terms of the rest... impossible... ludicrous... and the most captivatingly beautiful endeavor we have been given.

So, to those of you who have seen many snapshots of my life, and have allowed me the privelege of sharing some of yours... no words can express. You have made my life beautiful and rich. I may not pick up new snaphots of you for a time... to the degree that we did while together... but let's not lay them aside... they do not become obsolete. We do not become different creatures over time... we just play different parts of the same film. No one says to only watch the end of a movie. Nor do old memories lose their value or definition in time. Thanks for knowing me, and letting me know you. I love you all very much.

Thursday, July 10, 2008


Whelp, I've got a ticket folks.

After some digging, I found a flight out of Dulles with a single stop in Argentina for $820 (after taxes) I'll be flying out on the 24th of July.

Plans are to catch a ride with Brian up to visit Rhonda and Kerwin in Baltimore on the 17th, and spend the last week up there with them.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Like drifting towards the roar...

You are reading this. I am glad. That's a good start! I've been considering how best to remedy my tendency to neglect the thoughtful personal e-mails that make any valued ones distance more bearable. As I cherish each of you deeply, I want to make sure to keep you updated on what goes on in my life in the next few months/years. This little blog may help with that. Let me make one thing clear from the beginning though. I do NOT want this to replace any personal contact you would otherwise have with me in Paraguay. Think of it as... the minimal line of communication that keeps us close enough to allow for ongoing dialogue. Like... team climbing... sort-of... or... those ropes with handles that kindergardeners use of field trips to the zoo. This is the first strand of that rope. As it is augmented with news of my adventures and adjustments in Asuncion and beyond, I ask that you would grip it between praying hands, and ask that our Father would lead me and train me through this experience. Word out of the underground church in China is that they ask for us to pray for the strengthening of their backs rather than the lightening of their load. I would be amiss to ask for less, if God is as all evidence and whole thought leads me to suspect. I choose to serve. I ask to grow, in efficacy, wisdom, finesse, and spiritual, mental, etc. fitness. He has been my best teacher thus far. I don't want to nap in class.... don't want to miss a thing... for negligence, for fear, for fatigue... for anything. Pray for me along these lines. Pray that he would grace me with situations and lessons to shape me according to His future plans. I have rarely if ever justified His investment in me... which means His heart for teaching is exactly what I desperately want to mirror by my own... a tall order, and a long bloody task. So you see why I need him so much.

So... status check:

At this point little packing is underway beyond organizing things in my head a bit. I've pulled the books I want to take with me... have ordered some wardrobe and a camera... and insodoing realized how desperately my conscience needs me to start bringing in some cashflow rather than living on loans and odd jobs. Ummm.... Paraguayan VISA came through in half the time I expected, despite some honestly stated, but glaring conflicts with the application criteria. (One of the criteria for getting the VISA was that you not apply for residency once there... an intention I directly stated) Still some paperwork to do though for the residency.

I am nearly reading to pace with my Focus on the Family Institute days. Like... 30-60 pages a day or more if I can swing it. It feels awesome. You should all try it sometime. Trying to practice some Spanish by reading Bolivian folk tales from one of Dad's old books and looking up every other word. Good excercise though. I know know that 'lagarto' means a lizard... or a slink-y man.

It doesn't quite feel real yet that I will be teaching in about a month, and in Paraguay in less than 3 weeks. Nevertheless... the water I float in is picking up speed, so I know something big and exciting is just downstream... and sweeping me toward it. I tuck my arms inside my little barrel. The fear's there. Come on... let's go.