Life in the Campaña
Our family recently relocated from Asuncion (population 6 million) to Escobar (population 8,815) to learn Guarani – the heart language of Paraguayans.
It is quite a life out here in the country (campaña). Chickens randomly enter our yard and peck away. A guy on a motorcycle delivers chipa, a traditional Paraguayan dish, to our doorstep. Roosters crow throughout the night for those who think differently. The stars are different (I dare say better!) in South America and shine brilliantly without the street lights to ruin the view.
One of the biggest changes, though, with our new location is not having access to hot water in the countryside. But before you go feeling completely sorry for us, we do possess an electric shower head other missionaries fondly refer to as a “widow maker.” The showering process, on the whole, is something I personally dread on a daily basis because of the artful nature it requires. It seems easy enough. First, flip the switch on the wall to turn on the heat element. No problem. Next, gently turn on the water slowly until the main light in the room flickers just a bit. This is often tricky to detect because if someone is, say, making coffee or toasting bread, the power also adjusts making a similar dimming sensation. Dial back the water and begin the process of hoping, praying and if I was not a missionary, crossing all fingers and toes.
Finally, if all goes well, the shower head produces a kettle like sound inviting the recipient to step inside and enjoy. If you don’t hear a noise, try again – like 4 times. That’s an arbitrary number, of course, because I always get it on the first try. The advantage to this aforementioned device – unlimited hot water, albeit at a trickle. The risk – electricity and water together, but who doesn’t love an adventure?
While most would claim it’s their spouse or dog, my electric kettle is my best friend in the campaña. We use it to heat water for washing dishes and more importantly, boil water for the caffeinated beverages, or joy juice, we consume in large quantities throughout the day.
While dumping the leftover water from my beloved hot pot today so I could refill it for my morning brew, I realized I was not alone. A tiny frog had crawled inside during the night to escape the winter temperatures. Even a month ago, this would have elicited a screech producing alarming panic throughout our home and awaking every member of my family. But I have changed – I am a country girl now.
NOTE: I did take 10 seconds to acknowledge how gross the situation truly was and how weird my life is now.
The thing is, the little guy did not want to leave his warm home. I tried to gently wiggle him loose to no avail. Then I tried to flood him out, but he hid in the spout. Finally, a fierce shaking maneuver tapped him out once and for all and he found shelter under my washing machine. I celebrate with all you animal lovers who gasped at my attempts to drown him. I then set my sights on disinfecting the pot because, after all, there is no better way to begin the day than with Jesus and coffee free of frog flavoring.