Warm Hearts and Big Smiles

I recently read an article about those whose life doesn’t go exactly as planned, but in the end the deviation from the plan brought more joy than they could have ever imagined or hoped for.  The message couldn’t have ringed truer for me.

Doing the Peace Corps was something I always dreamed about since learning about it in high school (or was it middle school?).   During college, when several friends decided to do the Peace Corps after graduating, I felt a twinge of jealousy when I discovered what their next step was.  How awesome for them to do something unconventional.  But the Peace Corps, for us, just wasn’t in our cards; we were to move to Seattle, work, and eventually start a family.

What I didn’t realize, is that my husband is just as adventurous as I am, which in hindsight is one of the reasons I married him, and for his stunning good looks as well, of course.   So, before finishing my second year of AmeriCorps, we discussed what was next for us, and well… you can figure out how the rest of the story went.

Four years after the planning and discussing began, and the longest application known to man, here we are one month+ away from completing our service, saying goodbye to all of the amazing friends we have made.

Much of this blog space I have dedicated to our projects and travel, and while much of our time here in Paraguay has consisted of this, some of the most treasured memories I will take away with me are just the simple moments we spent with Paraguayans.  Paraguayans are truly some of the most hospitable and friendliest people you will ever meet.   They have welcomed us into their homes for many meals, giving us many rides, shared many tereres and mates, and most of all, have shared with us much laughter.  So today, is a day to share with you guys some of those small/big moments we have shared with Paraguayan friends lately that warm our hearts and bring big smiles.

During Easter it’s a tradition to make chipa, a traditional cornmeal and cheese based bread, so this year instead of just eating lots of it, I got to try my hand at making it with our friends across the street (who also are our landlords).   Jon even joined in at the end of it and become an expert chipa shaper.

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12 days in Patagonia

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After my family’s visit to Paraguay we all flew to Patagonia, more specifically El Calafate, Argentina.  Call me ignorant, but I wasn’t exactly aware that people traveled to Patagonia.  But in my early days as a volunteer I kept hearing other volunteers mentioning their trips to Patagonia, and showing their epic photos, and so Patagonia quickly went on the “To-Do” list during our service.  Thankfully, my parents were also up for the adventure to travel to the end of the world.

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Our first outing in El Calafate was ice trekking on a glacier.  It felt surreal to be walking on the infinite expanse of ice with crampons.  The colors of the ice were mesmerizing, the deepest blue you could imagine.  During the trek we also stopped to see the front of the glacier Perito Moreno.  Perito is one of those “must-sees” when you visit Patagonia, you simply don’t get tired of looking at it and waiting for a chunk of ice to break off and go plunging into the water.
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Parents visit Paraguay

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This past February we were graced with my entire family visiting us.  Though to be fair my “entire” family consists of 3 people (five including Jon and I), while Jon’s family is many, many more… I would get lost if I were to count. 20 to be exact.

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It had been almost two years since I last saw my mom and sister, and a little less since I last saw my dad, either way it had been way too long.  I was pretty darn glad to see those familiar faces arrive at the airport and to be smothered in kisses by my mama.

In the end, they spent almost two weeks in Paraguay.  We adventured out in an old rental van to do our explorations, the van may or may not have died on us 3 times during the trip, adding a bit more to the sense of adventure.  We visited a waterfall, went to Encarnación to watch carnaval and go to the river beach, felt the hustle and bustle of Asunción, and enjoyed the tranquilo life of our town, while they got to meet some of our favorite people.
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