After more than a year of planning and after traveling more than 9,000 miles in more than 18 hours of flight times over three days, we made it! We arrived in Asunción, Paraguay Friday morning without incident. The kids were great on the overnight flight and both slept most of the flight.
Patrick’s chosen sleeping position (sideways across the seat, snuggling with the arm rest) didn’t look too comfortable, nor did it leave much room for Brian. He did wake up once during the flight from what seemed to have been a bad dream. He cried a little bit, flighting sleep, and then he did what any Irish lad would do: he loudly sang “Danny Boy” for his fellow passengers. It was like closing time at an Irish bar – one fool singing the wrong words to Danny Boy, off key while the guy in charge hushes him and tells him to get some sleep. The Paraguayans do not appear to share an affinity for Danny Boy. The man sitting in front of my mom threw a blanket over his head to muffle the sound. Thankfully Patrick did take Brian’s advice, calmed down and did go to sleep. Danny too woke up during the flight, and after I fed him, he went back to sleep. Without singing to neighboring passengers.
When we landed, it was quite a production to get off the plane. We were the last passengers off the plane. We had to wake Patrick up, so he was not thrilled. He kept yelling, “I wanna sleep!” Sherpa Brian carried two car seats and five bags, my mom took two bags, a pilot took the breastmilk cooler, and I carried one bag and two kids (one baby attached to me with a moby wrap and one toddler kicking and screaming about sleep).
We were met at the airport by nine Embassy employees. They carried all of our bags, helped my mom get her visa, escorted us through customs and then loaded us and our luggage into five waiting SUVs, parked right up on the sidewalk immediately outside the airport door. It was so nice that they took care of everything!
They took us all to our new house, which is lovely and even bigger and better than the photos we had previously seen. The house is furnished, the beds were made and our fridge and pantry were loaded up with food. One of Brian’s coworkers had even made us dinner. It was cooked and in the fridge and just needed to be warmed up. After we got a tour of the house and a primer on how everything in it works, we said goodbye to our entourage.
The first things we unpacked were the boys’ things. Both were so excited to be reunited with toys and treasured possessions they hadn’t seen in a few weeks.
We spent the afternoon unpacking our luggage and getting settled in our new home. Brian and Patrick managed to squeeze in a four-hour nap!
After dinner we all went to bed early. Thankfully the boys slept until 9:30 the next morning!
A day after our arrival, the big outing for all five of us was a trip to the grocery store, HiperSeis. We were thoroughly impressed by how well-stocked the store was and how diverse its offerings were. It was part grocery store, part drug store and part department store. It was huge and very clean. We’ll have no problem finding and cooking foods we like. For lunch, we stopped at the empanada counter and brought home three – a chicken empanada, an onion empanada and a ham and cheese empanada. They were delicious.
So far, so good in Asunción!
A few observations so far:
– The biggest tourist attraction in Paraguay is the Instituto de Fútbol Sudamericano.
– Toilet paper here has, on every fifth square, a drawing of a dog holding a stop sign (in Spanish, “pare”), indicating the recommended quantity.
– The brand name on the napkins and paper towels is “Snob.”
– Our neighbor has a pet monkey and a pet parrot and he likes to sit outside with both of them.
– At the grocery store in America, there are beverage fridges with bottled water, pop, and sports drinks. In Paraguay, the beverage fridges at the checkout counter are stocked with beer.
– Most of the roofs of houses are Spanish tiles. Only the busiest streets are paved. Most of the residential streets (including our own) are cobblestone. Outside of Asunción, the roads are dirt roads.