When we look back over the past couple of years here in Paraguay, we recognize that we’ve had a pretty good run of family and friends who’ve made the trip all the way to this lesser-traveled South American country that we’ve learned to call home. Our latest and (probably) last visitors came in the form of Nick & Jess.
They’re good friends from college who fit us in (really, crowbar’ed us in when you consider how difficult it was for them to get Paraguayan visas) as part of a South American victory lap for Nick’s having finished his Masters in school counseling. Besides brushing elbows with the likes of Will Farrell, they spent much of their time in Brazil watching a sports tournament known as the “World Cup.”
Now, for our American audience I feel that I should explain a few things. You see, there is this little-known sport called “soccer” where players run up and down [what is essentially a football] field for 90 minutes while kicking a round ball. Maybe a goal or two is scored during that time (accomplished by kicking the ball into some netting at either end of the field where the goalposts would normally be), but not necessarily. The “World Cup” tournament is considered the zenith of the sport and is held every four years–presumably because spectators wouldn’t be able to handle watching it more frequently than that.
We met up with Nick and Jess just across the border from Paraguay in Brazil, at the legendary Iguazu waterfalls. Now, we’ve been fortunate enough to have already seen the Iguazu waterfalls but never from the Brazilian side which offers more of a panoramic view of the falls. Heavy rains up-stream has meant that an even higher volume of water is falling, churning up more water and causing a lot of the views to be pretty misty. But, despite being slightly shrouded in mist, the waterfalls were still an impressive experience.
After a painless border crossing and spending the night in Encarnacion, we made it to our home in Yuty with enough time to clean up before heading to the children’s soup kitchen. The new visitors were a big hit with the kids, and several of the girls asked Jess about that soccer stud she brought with her who was showing the other kids a thing or two out on the field (and doing his best to avoid the previously atypical obstacle of cow poo).
The next morning Nick and I took the bikes on a 10(ish)K bike ride to the old steel railroad bridge that spans the Tebicuary river in the nearby town of Estacion. The weather was cool and slightly overcast, making for a lovely little ride. It had been about a year since I’d last seen the bridge, and at that time its transition to a bridge passable by automobile traffic wasn’t quite finished. Upon seeing it again, it looked like they’d alleviated the danger of an inattentive person falling through the bridge when they failed to see that several boards were yet missing.
Our short yet sweet time with Nick and Jess finished with a rousing game of euchre. Surprisingly, at the age of 30, Allison still had never learned to play the card game. How she managed to attend for four years and graduate from Goshen College without having learned to play is a feat of its own. After a quick lesson for Allison (and refresher for me) the four of us duked it out on the back patio while sipping some mate.
We walked Nick and Jess to the Yuty bus terminal to say our final goodbyes and sent them on their way to Buenos Aires.
It’s been a pleasure and a privilege to have had so many wonderful folks come by and see us during our service in Paraguay. Family and friends are what we have missed most and what we’re most looking forward to when we return to the states this fall. But, for any of you who still want to come see a bit of Paraguay while we’re still here, there is still time! Well, only about two weeks at this point. So keep your eyes peeled for those last-minute flight deals!