I set out for Mariscal, a city way out in the Chaco, on Sunday thinking I would be away from the capital for at least 10 days, and then ended up driving back to Asunción on Monday afternoon. Surprise! That’s field work.
I went to Mariscal to meet with the doctors at the regional hospital for Boqueron, who do all the surveillance for infectious diseases in the department and train indigenous health promoters for the rural communities. These doctors are amazing – they do a lot of work with few resources. They are going to collaborate with me in my research, and will be providing free medical care to persons with suspected TB and helminthiasis.
After meeting with one of the doctors on Monday morning, I was invited to accompany her back to Asunción for a meeting organized by the National TB Program. I got to meet lots of people who were interested in the work I’m going to do. The meeting continues tomorrow morning, and then I think the doctor and I will be heading back up into the Chaco to Filadelfia (the largest of the Mennonite colonies). In Filadelfia I’m trying to meet some of the people who work at the Km 81 hospital, which takes in a lot of leprosy and TB cases.
While I was in Mariscal (less than 24 hours), I had a great visit with the family I stayed with last year. We spent most of the afternoon at the soccer field watching the local teams play (there are a lot of them, we were there for 3 consecutive games, and more had been played earlier in the day). The family was super nice and insisted that I stay with them again, and took me all around the community introducing me as their returned Canadian daughter. I am never bored or wanting for company in Mariscal.
My Spanish is much better than the last time I was there, and I realized just how much the people in Mariscal talk in jopara (the Spanish-Guarani mix I mentioned earlier). I learned a new expression that will come in handy: “Que calor-che!” The first part is Spanish for “It’s so hot!” The -che is a Guarani addition, which I have heard added onto other words, and I think it is kind of equivalent to the Canadian “eh!”
I’ve been taking notes to write a post on Paraguayan cuisine, but I don’t have much time to do the subject justice right now. Instead, here’s a recipe for a super quick Paraguayan omelet: (1) scramble eggs in frying pan, (2) add cheese, (3) add soy sauce and vegetable seasoned salt for flavour. Goes well with tomatoes covered in mayonnaise (salad), and bread.