So somehow we’ve made it to the end of November! I still can’t imagine where the time has gone, but here we are! We recently returned from a ten-day vacation to Buenos Aires and Punta del Este, Uruguay. We had a wonderful time, and even though Molly came down with a terrible virus on the trip (high fever, terrible cough, and really stuffy nose), we managed to see and do a lot—including eat a lot of delicious ice cream as pictured above.
The purpose of the trip was to leave the country so that we could renew our tourist VISAs for another 90 days. We didn’t need to leave for as long as we did, but since we were going as far as we were (BA is a 9-hour bus ride, and Punta del Este is another 2+ – hour ferry ride, and 1 1/2-hour bus ride), we decided to make the most of it. The overnight bus ride was an experience in itself. The kids were thrilled by the big seats that folded down into full beds (with blankets and pillows, even!!!), and the dinner that was served. At one point, I heard Ben say to Rob, “These are some good meatballs!” To me, “good” seemed like a very strong word in this case, but I was happy that Ben was happy.
Both places we visited had fantastic weather. We all managed to get sunburned in Punta del Este, and despite the arctic chill, the kids all swam in the water. Molly’s cold set in almost as soon as we got to Punta del Este, but the good thing about South America is that the pharmacies are really helpful (read: liberal). I went into one, and told them that my daughter had una fiebre muy grande, and un muy malo tos, and after a few questions about her age and size, I walked away with some awesome fever reducer, and cough medicine. At one point in Buenos Aires, poor Molly was so sick, and we were in between our hotel (where we couldn’t get a late check-out), and our night bus, that we decided to stop for lunch. We had all ordered and were snacking on bread, when Molly put her on the table, and promptly fell asleep. Fortunately, it was a nice restaurant, and they had a tablecloth, so the drool that was dripping out of her mouth was soaked up. The people at the restaurant we very nice to us and even wrapped up Molly’s chorizo in a piece of bread so that she could have a snack later. With the hours that families keep in Argentina, I doubt that Molly was the first kid to ever fall asleep in a restaurant.
So all of these things and events (and many others–like the fact that this Thursday is Thanksgiving) have gotten me thinking about the hundreds of things that I’m feeling thankful for this year. Here’s a quick (not really) list:
*HELADO: I mean, REALLY!!!! How could ice cream like this NOT make some sort of “thankful” list?
*TRAVEL: This is no surprise to anyone, right? It is exciting and fascinating to see the world through our children’s eyes. To watch our children learning and growing at almost every turn, and to challenge ourselves beyond what we ever could from our safe haven of Portland is a true blessing.
*FRIENDSHIPS FAR: I never knew how much I would appreciate Facebook. It is wonderful, and gives me such a cozy feeling to be able to keep up with our friends and family on a daily basis.
*FRIENDSHIPS NEAR: I never would have thought that it would be possible to be so warmly embraced in a country where we are strangers to both the culture and language. Just this weekend we were invited to two asados (had to send our regrets to one because two asados in one day is just madness—even by Argentine standards), Molly and Elliott were each invited to birthday parties, and Ben had a 5-hour playdate! At the asado, our friends asked us what has surprised us about Argentina. I told them, with as much passionate Castellano as I could muster that we were thrilled and honored that so many people had made the effort to welcome us and include in their circle of friends. It’s not easy to make time for, and foster a friendship with someone who does not speak the same language as you. Every day I feel blessed that we have essentially plopped down where we have.
*ROB’S INCREDIBLE PLANNING: Because if I’m honest (and why not be?), I know that this trip would have never happened without it.
*DUMB LUCK: See above.
*FLEXIBLE CHILDREN: Some days are really, really hard, and we just want to throw in the towel. My understanding of static electricity is thin in English, and then when you wrap it up in Spanish, it does’t get any better. So sometimes I am completely lost trying to help Elliott with his homework. And then other days, the boys have their friends over, and they’re all in the pool, and chattering back and forth to each other. If I’m not looking right at them, I can’t tell if it’s my kids talking, or the kids from the neighborhood. Their Spanish (or, as everyone here calls it, “Castellano”) has taken off, and it’s at this point when I think, “OK! THIS is why we’re doing this! THIS MOMENT! RIGHT HERE!”
So in honor of Thanksgiving, this Saturday we’re having some Argentine friends over for a Thanksgiving asado. I have been told that I really shouldn’t use the word asado because we’ll be cooking turkey in our outdoor Chilean oven, not beef, but it’s going to be so much more than just a lunch. Just like Thanksgiving in the states, we’ll eat too much, probably drink too much, some people may nap, the kids will probably swim (and some of the adults, too!), and we’ll spend the afternoon enjoying each other’s company, and feeling so very, very blessed that we find ourselves in the situation that we do.