It never crossed my mind that I would be playing card games over the summer, let alone eagerly looking forward to them every evening. However, the tradition began almost immediately upon my arrival to the small town of Itapevy. My first night with my Paraguayan host family was a restless frenzy of activity, as I met host brothers, host parents, host cousins, and all one hundred animals that live on their sprawling farm. Feeling as though I was in a dream, I pretended to know what was going on around me, and attempted to speak in profficient Spanish- although only about fifty percent of what was said to me was understood. They spoke faster than any Spanish teacher, and were more extroverted and energetic than anyone I had ever met. So when it was announced we were going to play “el juego de cartas” – a card game- my expectations were exceptionally high.
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I was prepared for failure and an embarrassing loss.What would my new family think of me, after watching me drown in my own incompetency? I wanted to impress them, not scare them away. I was consumed in self deprecating thought, thinking of everything that could go wrong, when my youngest host brother Rodrigo shyly tapped me on the shoulder and whispered that we were about to play. We all sat down around the blackened and burnt fire, while my host father Basilio expertly dealt out seven cards to each player. He then preceded to ask me, “?Tienes un tres?”I was delighted. I knew how to play this game, it was just Go Fish! We continued to ask one another for cards, and as the game went on, the attitude and the volume increased. I felt more confident with each round, and slowly grew more comfortable shouting, shrieking, and playfully pinching people if they cheated.
Although I lost that night’s game, from that point forward el juego de cartas was a nightly ritual that nobody dared miss.Our Go Fish games were loud and undoubtedly overdramatic, however each and every game brought me closer to my new friends and family. I had never had so much fun by simply playing cards. In these moments, which I now cherish as unforgettable memories, I realized that the small, uncomplicated things were what I was overlooking. Playing cards, cleaning horses and milking cows are not my typical pasttimes in Tucson, Arizona, nor will they ever be. However the value of little things and new experiences is now something I never overlook. Opportunities that I once would have skipped out on, are opportunities I gladly accept.
I am confident that I will reach my goals; but am now unhesitating to take a few sidetrips along the way.(457 words)