If anyone believes that sea level rise won’t really effect the United States, they have either forgotten about Hurricane Katrina or have never been to Miami. It is a city that doesn’t seem to rise out of anything--no great land mass defiantly projecting itself out of the ocean--just a mass of dark water, then lights and there you have it, Miami. The lights of the perfectly linear boulevards twinkle amidst great swaths of seemingly abysmal water, like a perfectly-architectured galaxy among the endless of expanse of deep-space. The absolutely perpendicular streets hint at an alarming degree of premeditation underlying the construction of this city; even from a plane at night I get the strong impression that there is not much of nature to be seen here. It’s almost as if a huge extension chord runs from underneath this city to an enormous plug somewhere in for less-glam regions of our country (perhaps the midwest). Some far away place that faithfully pumps electricity into these streets where it is illuminated, projected and then hopelessly swallowed up in the black-hole ocean that surrounds it. I find some sort of mechanical, almost industrial beauty in the site of the sprawling, well-planned switchboard that is Miami. Still, I don’t hold my breath.
When I get off the plane the humidity hits me in the stomach. Its like a clamp has been placed over my entire body, each endplate has been padded with down pillows, but it applies considerable pressure all the same. I hear a man say to his friend, “In Miami, if you don’t e-speak e-spanish, forget about it,” and he is not mistaken. It seems that all I hear after I de-plane is rapid-fire Spanish. Even the Bangladeshi cabbie and the African doorman ‘e-speak e-spanish’. Tomorrow I am gonna buy me a Spanish-English dictionary, which should serve well until I get into my local village in Paraguay where they won’t be speaking much Spanish at all, but instead Guarani (a language I have no familiarity with). So it goes.
This is the first leg, among the centipede that will be my journey, in my travel to Paraguay with the Peace Corps for the next 2 years and 3 months. I am currently staying at a hotel by the Miami airport. I have two days here, a brief training session on Wednesday, followed by a midnight flight to Buenos Aires, Argentina. Then it’s onto Asuncion, Paraguay where I will be living with a host family for three-months of cultural, lingual, and just general immersion into Paraguayan culture. On December 15th, I will be moving out to my host village finally where I will spend the next two years doing agriculture, educational, subsistence and development work with a local community. That’s the plan at least.
Well, my mind is spinning with emotion--I can’t tell if this is me slowly loosing my grip (which may not be such a bad thing considering I am about to be thrust into something entirely foreign and unknown) or if this is just the result of several days of sleepless nights. To all my freinds and family at home, I love you and I will miss you, but I will keep in touch. To my love, Jacqueline--see you out here in the South American wilderness in 8 months, I can’t wait! And to everyone else who might unfortunately stumble across this blog, I hope you follow along with my adventure as well.