We just arrived back in Paraguay from a quick 3-week jaunt to the USA. We are a little over one year into our Peace Corps service, and we took a trip back to visit family/friends and celebrate the wedding of our friends Alex and Katelyn. We are so excited to return to our community (and Michimi!), but it was an incredible trip and we wanted to give a run-down of highlights.
We landed in Boston after more than a year outside of the United States and it was pretty incredible to be back. We arrived in Boston, and visited with Dylan’s family for the first week, and we were so lucky to have so much family time with the Kintish crew. We spent many nights eating tasty sea food, sitting by the fire, and playing board games. We had a BBQ with friends and family, as well as had visits from Dylan’s Papa and Nana, and had breakfast with his grandmother.
On the ONLY sunny day we experienced in the USA (not a joke – it rained/was overcast EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.) we were lucky enough to go hiking with Dylan’s parents at Mount Major in New Hampshire. We thought hiking on a Thursday would give us reign over the trails, but alas, a veryyyy large group of boisterous middle schoolers joined at the top J they loved Dylan’s family dog, Sunny (picture below). We also spent some time apple picking, went to Cranes Beach and other smaller trails enjoying nature when we could.
After our time in Boston, we made our way to Minnesota to spend time with Alli’s family. After a belated 30th birthday celebration, in which a few surprise guests were present (Emily Bell and Sarah Goodell!), we spent a lot of time running around the chain of lakes, drinking coffee at Dunn Bros, and spending time catching up with friends.
A highlight from MN is the Bell parents new kitten, Beau Bell! He was rescued by Alli’s aunt and cousin at a mere 7 weeks old in an abandoned barn near their home. It has been 6 years since the Bell family feline, Martha (RIP), went to kitty heaven, and it was time for the house to have a new cat. Beau is already beloved by everyone he meets – especially his BFF, 94-years-young Grandpa Ben Bell. Nothing is cuter than watching a grandpa and kitten play together. Literally nothing.
From Minnesota, we road tripped to Iowa with our friends Lindsey, Ryan, and Alisa for the wedding of Alex and Katelyn, friends from AmeriCorps. The wedding day was rainy, but the party was hoppin’ and full of love. It was great to reconnect with so many pals from AmeriCorps, throw back a few PBRs, hit the dance floor, and watch our friends in their most important day.
For our fourth and final stop, we took a road trip with our life mentor and friend, Ken Goodson. It was great to catch up with him, talk about Peace Corps, AmeriCorps, and many other topics as we drove through the exciting Nebraskan scenery. Once in Colorado, we ate all of the breakfast burritos, drank so much beer, and spent some much-needed time with friends. The weather did not cooperate and we actually didn’t even see mountains once. That wasn’t for lack of trying – we did a foggy hike with Alisa, and a snowy drive with Emily and Andrew. We were overwhelmed by support and love of AmeriCorps, November Project, and other friends that we were able to see, and our hearts are so, so full!
In all, this was an incredible trip home. We are thankful for technology which has given us the ability to communicate frequently with our friends and family from Paraguay, but there is nothing like an in-person hug. We ate a lot of food, drank a lot of drinks, and had a wonderful time. At the end of our time, we were anxious to return to Paraguay, where we feel truly happy. It’s still really hard to live far from loved ones, and there are definitely difficult moments/days. But on the whole, we are happy. We are surrounded by such incredible people and live in a hardworking, hospitable community. We can’t believe it’s already been a year in country (other blog post will be coming shortly on that), and we know that this second year will only go faster.
Thank you to everyone who took time to travel, take off work, host dinners, give us their homes (Mere & Tad!), etc. to visit with us, and make us feel welcome back in our home country. We are infinitely grateful, and please know that we cherished the time we had with all of you to hear about your lives – even if it was for just a minute or two! In even the hardest days, knowing that we are so supported back home gives us that much more motivation to power through and for that, we are forever thankful.
Gifts to our family from our landlord Margarita!
Alli and Dylan