Thursday, October 22, 2009

Visa Paradise

Will wonders never cease? It's finally for real officially official. This past Tuesday, October 20, 2009 at approximately 11:45 am, Catherine and I received our temporary resident visas. When the woman handed me our two visas it was a wonderful, almost surreal moment since I had been to immigration at least a half a dozen times and walked away empty handed. But not on this fateful day. On this day the planets and stars aligned just right, the gods smiled down on us, the sun shone brightly, the clouds parted, and I walked out of the immigration office for the last time.

Now we can legally stay in Paraguay until October, 2010. It feels good to be on the up and up and finally have our visas in hand even though we return to the states in a mere eight weeks. We did, however, come close to our prediction that our visas would be handed to us as we were boarding the plane. Hey, what's a nine month delay when it comes to government paperwork?

My visa.

Catherine's Visa.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

It's cliché I know, but: Fame! I'm Gonna Live Forever.

Since Grease I have been working on Fame at the Stael Ruffinelli de Ortiz English Language School. This time instead of merely being the assistant director and pseudo language coach, I will play the part of Mr. Myers, the acting teacher. But enough about me. Back to the students.

Even though the students in both shows are approximately the same age, they differ greatly in attitude, work ethic, and discipline. The Fame students come to rehearsal on time and prepared to work. It is such a welcome change from having to wait for 45 minutes to over an hour for the Grease students to arrive. And rehearsals are focused, solid, and productive. What a difference.

Do not get me wrong, Grease was a great show. The students did an excellent job and they really came together in the end. By the final performance they were comfortable with their characters, the audience, and each other. Yes, it was the last performance; however, there is an old addage in the theatre that I'll paraphrase here. It says that every show has a ton of dress rehearsals and closing night. This is exactly what happened with the cast of Grease.

Fame goes up in just over four weeks and I believe it will be a spectacular show. Everyone has been working incredibly hard singing, dancing, acting, memorizing lines, speaking in a foreign language and putting in more hours in rehearsal than most people put in at part-time jobs. Having said that, there is still a lot of work to be done before those curtains rise and "I'm gonna live forever" sounds throughout the theatre.

Now, maybe to balance out the superstitions of the theatre, I should say that the show will be a disaster. But where's the fun in that? Granted, I have been put into an extensive dance number where I will be jumping and spinning, picking up other dancers and putting them on my shouldes, twirling and galavanting all around the stage, but I still don't forsee a disaster. Wishful thinking? Not with two years of ballet and a Movement for Actors class in grad school that was really a cover for Intense Modern Dance 101.

Giving some instructions to the actors.

Working on lines and blocking with "Serena."

Echar This!

Is it me or does Spanish need more words?

Echar: A Partial List

to throw; to toss; (water, wine) to pour (out); (culinary) to put in, add; (teeth) to cut; (discourse) to give; (employment: despedir) to fire, sack; (leaves) to sprout; (letters) to post; (smoke) to emit, give out; (reprimand) to deal out; (story) to make up; to put on; ~ a correr/llorar to break into a run/burst into tears; ~ a reír to burst out laughing; ~se to lie down; ~ abajo (government) to overthrow; (building) to demolish; ~ la culpa a to lay the blame on; ~ de menos to miss; ~se atrás to throw oneself back(wards); to go back on what one has said; ~se una siestecita to have a nap

Yes, I know there are a lot of words in English that can mean a lot of different things too (just think of everyone's two favorite four-letter words). But the last time I checked, English had the most words of any language, somewhere between 750,000 and 1,000,000 words.

Paraguayan Left Turn

Some intersections are quite busy in Asunción. They are so busy, in fact, that left turns become an exercise in right turns--three right turns, in fact. Instead of making a simple left turn onto the desired street, you must pass the street, turn right on the next available street, a right next on the following street, and finally another right onto the street you originally wanted to turn left on. Once you are finally on the street you wanted, you get to once again pass the intersection that you visited only moments ago. Fun! With rush-hour traffic a never ending stream of lights, horns, pedestrians, colectivos (buses), motorcycles, street vendors, and exhaust, what's one quick circle around the block? Unless that block turns into 12 and adds 30 minutes onto an already exhausting commute.

For those Michiganders who read this, you will probably notice that a Paraguayan left bears a slight resemblance to a 'Michigan left.' For those of you who happened to miss those wonderful creations of traffic engineering the last time you visited the only two peninsula state in the union, Michigan lefts are those wacky left turns that require a right turn followed by a U-turn, usually with a traffic light thrown in between. Here goes: Instead of turning left to continue your journey you must turn right and then immediately get into the far left lane so as to be prepared for the next step. Merging into the far lane after turning right is sometimes easy and sometimes virtually impossible, depending on traffic, the number of lanes you must successfully navigate, and how far down the U-turn is. Once you are in the far lane you drive to the designated U-turn spot and either wait for a) the traffic light to turn green, b) oncoming traffic to dissipate, or c) both before completing the U-turn. Once option a, b, or c presents itself you may then turn onto the street you couldn't originally turn left on. What could be easier? Oh, I know. Turning left.

A street sign indicating that to turn left onto Avda. Perú, you must make a Paraguayan left (i.e. pass Peru and make three rights only to emerge back onto Avda. Perú)