Christmas and New Years

Trip Start Jan 24, 2005
Trip End Apr 2007

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Saturday, January 6, 2007

We had a great Christmas vacation with Simon's family.  Ireri arrived on the 13th of December and we spent a little time in Asuncion.  Then we headed out to site.  Here's a little compare and contrast of what Simon and Jessica are thinking and what Ireri told us she was thinking (though at the time she told us everything was great, which was nice because we didn't have to worry she was uncomfortable : )  ). 
Simon and Jessica:  We'll take her to the nicest hotel that has a pool and eggs for breakfast.  Ireri:  This is an OK hotel, but the breakfast isn't that great.  S and J:  We'll drink sugar cane juice and terere so we don't get overheated while we're out shopping.  Ireri:  Oh my, he just rinsed out that cup in a bucket of water from God knows where.  I now have the germs from everyone in the entire city.  S and J:  It will be fun to cook at Dr. Avila's house so everyone can try some authentic Mexican food.  Ireri (and Jessica, after we got to the house):  It is insanely hot cooking in this kitchen with no AC in 90 degree weather.  Ireri:  That's the least authentic Mexican food I've ever made.  Everyone else at dinner:  This is great Mexican food.  Why can't we eat like this every day?
S and J: We will relax and sleep in at the hotel in Caaguazu.  Reality:  The window won't close in the hotel room.  Street noise and heat keeps us up all night.  S: We're pretty close to the bus station, we can just walk.  J and I:  I don't know if we'll make it in the noon heat carrying all of this stuff (only two back packs, one duffle, one suitcase, one suitcase size bag of groceries, and one 2 ft x 18 in package).  S and J:  We're almost home.  Ireri:  This bus doesn't have a single seat that isn't broken.  How are we going to sit here for an hour and a half?  (after the first berakdown) Two hours in the heat? (after the second breakdown) Three hours in the heat with pumpkin orange faces from the dust? 
S and J: Ah, home sweet home.  And it's still almost as clean as we left it.  Ireri:  I haven't slept in four days and I have to sleep in this room that has more bugs and spiders than I can even count?  (after sweeping out the bugs, setting up the bed and the mosquito net)  Oh, well maybe this is OK.  She said that was the first night she really slept since arriving.
We had a good time.  We visited our friends in site, we painted some world map on Simon's newly finished basketball court.  We went to the creek to swim (well, more like lounge in the two feet deep water).  Simon went to pick up his dad and brother.  They got in late, but in one piece, and when they arrived in site after traveling for 30 hours and sleeping maybe three of those, they were so tired they didn't care whether spiders crawled into bed with them or not.  Simon and his dad went to the pig killing ritual early Christmas eve morning.  Ireri and I made pumpkin, apple and pecan pies while Jaime slept.  Then we walked down to join the party.  A lot of Oscar's family was there, and our new freinds and neighbors, Chris and Marisa.  They are Environmental Ed. and Agriculture volunteers who just moved to San Miguel, the community an hour and a half walk away where Simon and I have been working in the school.  We had a great time hanging out and talking and cooking and drinking a little beer.  We had dinner late, about 10:30.  That night we opened presents from each other and the next morning we opened presents from my family.  We had left over pork sandwiches and tacos for Christmas dinner.  Simon gave his dad and brother the grand tour over the next couple of days, then we headed out to Ciudad del Este.  We shopped and headed over to the waterfalls.  They were much more powerful than when Simon and I had gone in August.  And we saw them from the Argentinian side, where you get much closer. 
Then we got on a bus to Sao Paolo.  It was a sleeper, so we were ready for a relaxed ride.  Not to be.  The bus broke down and filled up with smoke, so we waited outside for an hour waiting for the driver to figure out what to do, then we waited for two hours in the bus, waiting for another bus to come pick us up.  It was not a sleeper.
We arrived in Sao Paolo New Year's eve and spent a while finagling ticket half-refunds and hotel reservations.  When we got to the hotel, we figured out the finagling paid off.  It was the nicest hotel Simon and I have ever stayed in and one of the nicest Jaime and Ireri have stayed in , whick is really saying something.  And not that expensive.  We had and excellent dinner at a churrasquerria (like the restaurant where we had our wedding reception).  Then we went to the street party.  It was cool; people from all walks of life were there, there was a concert, we counted down and they showered us with glitter and then set off fireworks for almost half an hour.
The next day we rented a car and drove to Rio de Janeiro.  They told us on the phone it was a Sienna.  We're thinking a Toyota Sienna, the mini-van.  We get there to discover it's a Fiat Sienna, and that's the biggest car they have.  Plenty of space in back for three people maybe if they were two years olds and asleep.
It rained in Rio, so so much for the beaches.  The two major tourist attractions are the Christ the Redeemer statue and the Pao de Azucar rock formation, both things you climb to see the veiw.  Not much of a view when you're above the clouds.  We went up anyway.  Check out the pictures.  So we headed back to Sao Paolo a day early to stay in the nice hotel again.  Then Simon and I headed home on the bus, and the family on the plane.  Quite the adventure.  I can't believe we only have three months to go.  I remember when I set up this travel log and I had to put in the return date and 2007 seemed ages away.  Well, here it is.  We're almost home!
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