Posted in Paraguay is not the usual Peace Corps book — a first time voyage of discovery — because Eloise and Chuck Hanner had done it all before — twenty-five years before. That was back in 1971 when they left, newly married and newly graduated, for a Peace Corps assignment in Afghanistan. It had been a terrific experience and they swore at the time they would do it again — maybe when they were old and retired. But when they turned fifty (not old or retired) they found themselves bored with their stock-brokerage careers and in need of a new direction. Despite admonitions from Thomas Wolfe, who warned “you can’t go home again,” they decided to join the Peace Corps once more. Although this time they wanted to serve in a Spanish speaking country, and a way to use their business background. The Peace Corps recruiter had just the ticket: a business development program in Paraguay.
They soon discovered it was one thing to join the Corps as young college graduates and quite another to go as middle-aged business professionals. Eloise, in her heart, wasn’t sure she really wanted to leave her elderly and recently widowed mother and then there was the problem of cutting stateside ties. Easy to do at twenty-one when they had nothing; not so easy at fifty with family and obligations.
They didn’t have to worry about repeating a past experience because Peace Corps/Paraguay in 2000 had absolutely nothing in common with Peace Corps/Afghanistan 1971. In 2000 training was conducted in county with the Trainees living in local homes — in 1971 the Hanners had shared a house with another Volunteer couple. In Paraguay they lived in a remote village, seven hours by bus from Asunción; in Afghanistan they were in the capital of Kabul. The first time around they had a defined program of teaching English with a set schedule. The second — it was make their own program to develope a small business the local cooperative. The cultures were opposite, the climate was opposite — and at night they looked up to see the Southern Cross instead of the Northern star.
If they were looking for a different life and a challenge, the Hanners got it in spades. Eloise gives us a humorous and insightful look as they adjust to their new simple existence with the good, the bad, the funny and the unexpected. Once again, Peace Corps took them down the life-altering rabbit hole.
Posted in Paraguay is Eloise’s third book. Her first book (The First Big Ride—A Woman’s Journey) was about the adventure of a cross-country bicycle trip (for charity) of the Eloise and Chuck — made unique by the fact that neither one of them was a cyclist. When they signed up for the ride (sponsored by the American Lung Association) they were almost fifty and hadn’t ridden a bike ten miles in twenty years. And they had never owned such items as a helmet or bike shorts.
The second book (Letters from Afghanistan) was the story of the Hanner’s first Peace Corps adventure — in Afghanistan, pre Taliban, during the last two years of the kingdom. The book was written after Afghanistan became news in 2001 and was taken from carefully saved letters written home to her mother. Hanner had planned to write the Paraguay adventure book at that time, but Afghanistan took precedence, and it was another ten years before Posted in Paraguay was written.
Eloise and her husband Chuck now live in Sarasota, Florida where they both enjoy tennis, travel, cycling and life in the sunshine.
Posted in Paraguay
by Eloise Hanner (Afghanistan 1971–73, Paraguay 1999–2000)
A Peace Corps Writers Book
$14.95 (paperback), $4.99 (Kindle)