Saturday, December 1, 2012

Last Days of Vacation

Hi!  I'm back! FINALLY I have time to update this blog!  Our vacation in Paraguay is over and we're busy and back to work here in Nepal--and we have some beautiful memories to remember.

Here we are at the famous church in Aregua, a short drive out of the city.  It's quite beautiful!
While driving around Aregua you can see pottery and other items made by local artisans for sale.

We also went to see the famous basilica in the town of Caacupe where there is a pilgrimage every December 8.  We were there on a "regular" Sunday, and it was still crowded--but of course, nothing like it is on the day of the pilgrimage!  Why don't I have a picture of this beautiful cathedral?  Well, right after taking the above pictures, my camera's battery ran out.  I put in the spare.  It was dead too!  WHAT?  I had forgotten to recharge the spare!  UGH!  So, I also lost out on taking pictures of Lake Ypacarai and the lovely resort town of San Bernardino--where I told Ramon I want us to retire to!  I loved it!  You'll have to wait for pictures until next year!  (Of course, you can also look in Google Images!)

I do have some pictures of Asuncion though (after I recharged BOTH of my batteries!) and here they are.  We saw the tomb of the unknown soldier

which is in this beautiful building called the Panteon del los Heros.

Here are some other sights to see as you walk around Asuncion.
I've posted some pictures of Asuncion before, but it was some time ago.

You never know what you'll see :)

Among the many things we did was eating excellent pizza with with the excellent company of cousins

and enjoyed a wonderful pasta bar with wonderful friends.

I must mention something about this pasta bar, named Bellini.
When you find yourself in Asuncion and you want the BEST brownie you will ever eat outside of the United States, please find this restaurant (in the downtown--yes, right next to McDonald's!) and you will be very happy!  I'm not kidding--it was THE BEST!!!

We also enjoyed this Food Court at Villa Morra Shopping Center--many times I might add!

Well, all too soon it was time to say Goodbye and head home.  Look what we had to miss!  :)

At the airport in the waiting lounge, there was, as there often is, someone playing a harp--lovely!

We flew again on Qatar Airways, which we recommend.  Our layovers were in Sao Paolo and Doha, where we met up with my mom.  Thankfully she had had a nice flight.  She arrived before we did and waited for us in the Oryx Lounge, which she recommends.  We had a beautiful sunny day to fly and for the first time we could see more of Nepal other than the tops of the mountain peaks over the clouds--since the clouds were few and far between.  Fascinating!

Finally we began to see the Himalayas and since Mom was sitting by the window, she was kept busy snapping away for herself, us, and the three girls sitting across the aisle from us--alternating five cameras!  Thanks for taking these beautiful pics Mom!  Here we go--the first glimpse:

Let's zoom in:

And now, because there aren't too many clouds, we can finally see more of Nepal!

Can you see the villages and terraces?

...and then we were in Kathmandu again.

It's good to be back at work with my little sweeties!  I always feel like a celebrity when I walk into the school and they run to me with their hands spread out--it's wonderful!

Ramon is busy and busy!  At the moment, there is a team from ADRA Japan here doing surgeries.

It's been great having Mom here!  I've been fighting a bad cold and she's been doing "Mom" things like cooking and cleaning!  Ramon asked her if she wanted to stay for only eight more years.  (She said, "Thanks, but no thanks!")  We have been able to get in a few fun things though, and here's a picture of her in the Garden of Dreams in the middle of Kathmandu.  Did you know there was such a beautiful garden smack dab in the middle of this city?

Well, that's all for now.  More on what we've been doing later.  Have a nice day, take care, and God bless! 

Tuesday, October 16, 2012


Hola and Hello from Paraguay!  We're here visiting Ramon's family.  He's been working very hard and it's vacation time! 

We were so thankful for an uneventful trip with no problems!  This time we flew on Qatar Airways and can recommend it.  The main thing we love about it is that we didn't have to go through India!  We flew straight from Kathmandu to Doha where I saw this for sale:

I said, "Oh, look Ramon!"  He said, "No way!"  :)  I tried to lift one, but couldn't and Ramon wouldn't try :) so I had to leave it behind!  :)

I did buy this book which is as interesting as it seems it might be!

Partway through the flight I woke up and looked out the window.  We were flying over the desert just north of Khartoum and this is what it looks like!

It looks like there are desert crop circles, doesn't it?

Here is Sao Paulo from the plane, where we had a layover.

When we landed in Asuncion, around midnight, there was a singing group playing some nice music.  The lead singer had a really good voice.  Ramon was disappointed that they were actually playing Mexican music and not Paraguayan music.  Oh well!  People like me wouldn't know unless someone told us! 

Sometimes there is someone playing a harp, which is really nice too.

Anyway, we've been having a lovely time resting, visiting with family and friends, and of course eating!  We heard that one of the grocery stores had a shipment of food from America that had just arrived and we headed over.

What fun!  We have gone twice already and may go again!

One of my favorite places here in Asuncion is where there are twin malls side by side.  We find ourselves there often!  The tables you see here are at the little confectionery called Sugar--the place I have mentioned before with the most amazing hot chocolate EVER!  (Their secret ingredient is ice cream!!!)  However, this time of year (it's hot!) I tried their chocolate milkshake and it was good too!

Speaking of it being hot, brings to mind that as far as I can tell, Paraguay jumps from Winter right into Summer!  I mean it is Spring, but the weather feels like Summer!  When we got here it was coolish--long sleeves and actually quite nice and then--from one day to the next:  BAM!  It was HOT and HUMID!  I was sweating like I was back in Curacao!  This meant I didn't have enough short sleeved shirts so I got to go shopping!  However, it will be getting cold when we get back to Nepal, so I won't be able to wear them there for awhile.  I'll enjoy the heat while I can!  I haven't complained about being too hot because I told Ramon (during the very cold winter in Nepal) to shoot me if I ever complained about being too hot again!  :)  

One nice thing is that watermelon is in season right now and Paraguayan watermelons are REALLY good!

Ramon has always told me that I have a VERY thick American accent when I try to speak Spanish and even when I say, "Gracias" or even "Si" for that matter I'm very noticeably American.  Well, today we were coming out of a frozen yogurt shop and a man coming in held the door open for us.  I said, "Gracias" in my very best Spanish and he said, "That's OK" in English!  When Ramon said, "Gracias" he answered, "Da nada" in Spanish.  Well, I guess I haven't improved my Spanish AT ALL!

Anyway, after this, as we ate our yogurt on the little patio you see here, we saw these taxis across the street and it reminded us of something funny.
On my first trip here, Ramon asked me not to talk while inside a taxi (because of my thick accent).  Well, when you shop here, because so many people walk or ride buses/taxis, stores have cubbies or lockers just inside (or outside) the front door for bags from other stores.  Well, one time when we got into a taxi I suddenly remembered that we had forgotten to pick up our other bags so I had to talk.  "Ramon, our bags!"  "What?"  "Our bags!  We forgot our other bags."  "Oh yes."  He headed back to the entrance of the store.  The taxi driver looked back at me and said in Spanish, "You an American?"  Of course, I had to admit, "Si."  He reached up to the meter and turned it to US $2.00 (which was more than the fare home).  It wasn't much, but I thought, "Well, now I know why Ramon doesn't want me to talk!"  Then Ramon got back to the car, got in and started talking in Guarani (the other official language of Paraguay).  The driver reached back up to the meter and turned it down to US $0.20--yes, 20 cents!!!       Isn't that funny?  Well, I guess my accent hasn't improved any since then, and it probably never will.  

That's all for now!  I'd better go and practice some Spanish!  Have a nice day and God bless!  


Sunday, September 9, 2012

Janai Purnima

What's been happening these days?  Well, we've had lots of internet problems off and on and you can see I missed a whole month!  Anyway, thankfully we are fine and I'm able to update now.  Here in Nepal there have been some more festivals/holidays (which for me translates into a day off of school but not for Ramon since it's still business as usual in the OR!):  Shrawan Shangkranti (praying for your brothers), Janai Purnima (festival of the sacred thread), Krishna Asthami (celebration of the birth of Krishna), Gokarna Aunsi (Father's Day) and ED Parva (women's celebration)!  Coming up are:  Teej (fasting festival for women), Rishi Panchami (paying tributes to the seven sages), Ghatasthapana (the first day of Dashain) which starts the largest and most anticipated one called Dashain (commemorating the victory of the gods over the demons with 15 days of celebrations), and Tihar (five day festival of lights). 

During Janai Purnima I was able to visit the festival site.  It was an interesting experience.  Luckily the day was a bit overcast because the site was on the top of this mountain hill.

As mentioned, this festival is the Sacred Thread Festival.  There are a lot of ceremonies that must be performed during (and before) this festival, but at some point everyone will tie a sacred yellow thread around their wrist (males on their right and females on their left).  This is supposed to bring good luck.  

Even though it was overcast, it was quite hot and humid.  For some reason, I had only eaten some olives for breakfast (of all things) so I struggled with low energy while walking up the steep path.  However, the scenery was amazing, and the happiness of all of us struggling up the mountain together was convivial.  

Ramon was unable to get away, too busy in the operating room, so I went with one of our Nepali friends and one of our Loma Linda medical students who was here at the time.  We started out walking through this neighborhood which is to the right of the above picture.

We steadily continued onward and upward with many town folk who were also on their way to the festival.

Soon we got to one of the fun parts--where people were selling things (sort of like a yard sale) along the road and playing games.
This is Bhakty, my friend, on the right.

...and we headed out of town and upward and onward!

Finally we had this view!

Do you see what's there?
Let's zoom in.
Yes, the hospital is there in the middle, the apartments are on the right, and the school is there on the left.  Banepa is in the background.

Another zoom (thank you for my nice camera Ramon!!) shows you our apartment, the two windows there in the middle behind the low building.  Yes, we look out over to where I took this picture--I was standing near the top of the mountain hill in the first picture of this post!
Those nice buildings behind us are actually a valley away.  They are mostly empty buildings built by the Chinese government as a gift to Kavre district.  A small school rents out a few of the rooms.  They're waiting for proposals from other schools to give the buildings to.  (Boy, I wish we could get these buildings!!!)

As we continued up the mountain hill (you've realized by now that since I'm from NE Ohio, I think of these "hills" as mountains!) we passed by this restaurant where I would have bought some water (which I needed by now) if I'd thought to bring some money!  Luckily Christy (the medical student) had some.  (THANK YOU CHRISTY for letting me have some of your water!!!)

 The path was full of people--everyone in a good mood enjoying the company, the scenery, the day off of school/work and the anticipation of the festival!

Bhakty and Christy stopped for pictures.

Some families stopped for a picnic.

We continued onward and upward.  Sometimes we passed people already "finished" and on their way back down.  We continued to see people selling things too, like this lady selling
shaved coconut popsicles. 

Many different kinds of items were for sale.

You can see happiness on the faces of the people.

Some girls got their hands painted.

There were places you could go to for a tika on your forehead.

Of course, you could also get your Sacred Thread too!

Other types of worship were going on as well.

Lots of people were throwing flowers onto this idol and splashing water on it too.

Not everything was worship--there were games to play,

toys to buy,

(Of course if Mommy and Daddy won't buy you a toy, you can always look around until you find something to play with!)

and lots of food!

Just when I was feeling a little faint after hiking on an empty stomach on a hot and humid day, I met up with one of the girls who sometimes brings her little sister to the Beginners Sabbath School class.  I sat down to take a rest and she disappeared.  Moments later, she returned with a coconut popsicle for me!  Bless her heart!  She saved the day for me!  Thank you and thank you again!

After my refreshment, I was able to continue walking up to the very top of the mountain hill

where I saw these views!

When we got back to the festival site, we were just in time for the program!

Finally it was time to head back.  Going down we had this view.

It was very crowded going both ways.
These fellows (both pictures) let me take their picture.  I'm presuming they were going to perform on stage.

Once we ran into some people we knew and they asked us, "HOW much longer to the top?!?!?!"  We told them that at that point they were about 3/4 of the way!  They were so relieved!

As we continued walking home, it became more cloudy.

As soon as we returned home, it started raining!  We made it just in time.
After the rain, I didn't see a rainbow, but I saw this:

Well, now you know about (a little anyway) the Janai Purnima festival. 
We will be in Paraguay visiting my mother-in-law during the next upcoming festivals,
but I'll try and post about them anyway!
Have a great day!