Here we are at the end of the year. This year has had a ton of highlights, many that we touched on in past blog posts. With that in mind we want to bring y’all back to our new year resolutions for a final year recap. And we’ve got a few things brewin’ for 2019!
Plastic Bags – We will practice waste reduction by bringing our reusable bag/backpack to the store.
• We have continued to do really well with this goal. We bring our backpacks/reusable bags to carry everything in, and we reuse all of our plastic bags for produce. Usually the only time we don’t reuse a bag is when it carries raw meat. We hope to continue this and share with more people in our community.
Eco bricks – As it may not be realistic (hint hint) to completely cut out plastic bags, we are going to utilize ecobricks as our trash management for all inorganic materials, such as plastic bags and wrappers.
• This is still going well, especially with our Basura Cero project. In the summer vacation we have some plastics building up again, but we will bring them to the schools in February.
Compost – We are going to build a compost at our new home that we will move into in the first two weeks of March for all organic materials.
• Our compost pile is poppin’! This is definitely one of the practices that we want to bring back to US – keeping a compost is seriously so easy, and we’ve used a lot of our compost in our garden. This has also been one of the most widespread practices here in our community. We hope to continue making new composts over the next year.
Workout/run at least 4x a week.
• This was hard and there were no lack of excuses. To be fair to ourselves, working out here is not the same as in a city in the US. It has been really hot (real feel of 100+ for the last 3 weeks) and some days it rains nonstop. We have the Insanity program and have started doing that because we are able to it in our backyard or in our house on rainy days. We give ourselves an “eh face” because many weeks we did hit 4x a week, but others… not so much. We will definitely be making some new fitness goals for next year.
Find, train and run one 1/2 marathon in South America this year! (July Update: Find and run a 10k in South America)
• As we mentioned in July, between training and availability of half marathons, it was not feasible for us to train and run one. That being said, we did do a 10k in Encarnacion this past November. It was the first race in over a year and we had a blast. We will definitely be looking for more next year.
Mental health – Start using mindfulness/meditative/relaxation exercises 2x per week for 15 mins (July Update: Yoga 1x per week)
• As far as taking 15 minutes to do self-meditation, that did not happen. But we found that this wasn’t the most effective form of meditation for us. We instead got into a habit of doing yoga 3-5 times a week. Moving/active mindfulness proved to be much more effective for our well-being. Additionally, we ended (almost) every night filling out our one line a day books to reflect on the day and share at least 1 thing we are grateful for.
Nutrition – Make one new healthy recipe once every 2 weeks
• This one has been really successful. Cooking continues to be something that brings us joy, and quite frankly, structure in an otherwise unstructured program. We plan our days around food, and have tried a lot of new recipes, usually multiple times per week. Some of the many new recipes we have made are:
Read at least 15 books
• So close but just short. That being said, we are giving ourselves a check in this one. There were some great reads this year (listed below) and we are starting up our reading list for next year. Pass along any recommendations!
• The Something Borrowed Books (5 books) – Emily Griffin
• American Gods – Neil Gaiman
• Between the World and Me – Ta-Nehisi Coates (On Audio)
• The Gunslinger – Stephen King
• The Drawing of Three – Stephen King
• The Waste Lands – Stephen King
• Wizard and Glass – Stephen King
• Wolves of the Calla – Stephen King
• Song of Susannah – Stephen King
• The Dark Tower – Stephen King
• Slaughterhouse Five – Kurt Vonnegut
• Between the World and Me – Ta-Nehisi Coates (On Audio)
• The Innocent Man – John Grisham
• The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald
• Bleachers – John Grisham
• The Associate – John Grisham
• Incredibly Loud and Extremely Close
• The Gift of Maybe – Allison Carmen
• American Gods – Neil Gaiman
• The Name of the Wind – Patrick Rothfuss
• The Wise Man’s Fear – Patrick Rothfuss
• The Omnivores Dilemma – Michael Pollan
• Anansi Boys – Neil Gaiman
• Open Veins of Latin America – Eduardo Galeano (half way through)
Read 3 of the HP books in Spanish to further improve our Spanish language skills (July update: Read 1 Spanish article a week)
• We used various news sites to practice our Spanish reading and translation while keeping up with current events around North and South America. The diction and vocabulary in articles was MUCH more relevant to how people actually speak than Harry Potter. We are able to better understand grammar structure, learn new vocabulary, and practice pronunciation as we read aloud. For any language learners out there, this is a great way to improve your language skills.
Read and discuss 2-4 research articles/month on topics of interest to further our general education. (July Update: Listen to 2-4 podcasts a month on topics of interest to further our general education)
• Thanks to recommendations from friends, we’ve had plenty of podcasts to listen to on various topics. We frequently listen to them as we do laundry, eat breakfast, melt in the heat, or on long bus rides. Some of our favorites are:
• Stay Tuned with Preet
• Slow Burn
• How Stuff Works
• Serial – Season 3
• Radio Lab
• NPR – Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me
• Intelligence Squared – US Debates
• Daily Show with Trevor Noah – Ears Edition
Culture and Art
Photography – Take camera out 1x per week to try a different setting, and shoot at various locations in our site (July Update: 2x/month)
• We just blew it here. We are disappointed in ourselves, because there is no shortage of beautiful landscapes in Paraguay, and we have the time. We will be revamping this goal for next year so that we can hopefully get our asses in gear to learn some stuff on our fancy camera. That being said, even though we were far from our goal, here are some pictures we are proud of.
Travel – to Argentina and/or Uruguay
• We spent a great 1 year anniversary in Buenos Aires! And we have some more traveling planned for next year.
Practice Guarani 3x per week for at least 1 hour to improve skills
• This did not happen, as we focused more on Spanish. We still try to learn and incorporate Guarani phrases into our vernacular, but our Spanish still has a lot of room for improvement, and we want to focus on that so that we can sound a bit more intelligent.
• We voted in the primaries and midterms!
Meal with Paraguayans 1x/week
• Yep! We have different friends and community members over at least once per week to try our cooking concoctions, and enjoy time together.
Call parents/families at least 1x/2 weeks
• Check. Calling our mothers, like good children.
1 blog post/ 2 weeks
• We posted 17 times this year (including this one). Not quite the goal of 24, but like good dark chocolate in Paraguay, the longer it takes to arrive the more excited you are to see it right? Definitely will try to be better next year.
Cell phones banned from the bed! Once we are in bed, and ready for sleeping, no cell phone use!
• Only 1 phone in bed and it is strictly for an alarm. We either watch an episode or movie together, or read, before sleeping.
Overall, pretty good! 14 checks, 2 ‘eh’ faces and 2 X’s. It was a great experience to not only make these goals, but to actively evaluate them throughout the year. Sometimes we feel like if we don’t have things written down, they don’t exist. Especially when it comes to goals. This was a year of learning in so many ways, and having goals to work towards helped us in this wild ride.
Outside of these goals, things have been going well. We spent Christmas Eve with our host family, which was very nice. We spent Christmas Day with Michimi and some friends, drinking eggnog and playing Phase 10. Dylan also made some dopeeeeee homemade chicken wings!
Upcoming events in the New Year include visiting our host family from training, and then Julie Chou arrives to visit on January 4th!
As we approach the new year (and melt in the Paraguayan heat), we have had some time to think more about the year and time in general. It really is wild how fast each year goes. There’s a saying in Peace Corps (maybe in life too?) that “the days go slow, but the months go fast.” This has proven to be so true, especially because we are more than half way done with our service and have less than a year until we finish. But the same goes for work, vacations, and other big events. It gets so easy to be trapped in the mentality of “I just need to get through this week, and then I have vacation/Christmas/other event X.” In the meantime, we sometimes miss out on the little stuff. That’s not to say we aren’t going to look forward to trips, weddings, and other events! But we are going to make a conscious effort to enjoy those moments when we aren’t traveling, or doing something particularly exciting. Because they are still moments in our life that are worth cherishing, especially when we are with people we care for and love. To end this ramble, we will leave you with a quote from one of our favorite movies that we have seen down here (pretty sure we’re at 10 times and counting), About Time, “I just try to live every day as if I’ve deliberately come back to this one day to enjoy it; as if it was the full final day of my extraordinary life. ”
Hope you all had a very Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah, Happy whatever holiday you do or do not celebrate at this time of the year, and are spending quality time with loved ones to close out 2018.
Alli and Dylan