Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Packer Game

Well I lost my Lambeau virginity this last week- went to my first Packers game! We went a little bit early to walk around the stadium a bit and to run into some friends. And the Dads went with us!
And they won! They creamed the Giants. Which made it even more fun!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


Just a quick note to say that we are flying out tomorrow for the U.S. for Christmas! We're excited to see family; Jesse is excited to see snow (I am less than thrilled to be cold). We will see the fam soon!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


As most of our Wisconsin family and friends know, Jess and I are returning to the state to celebrate Christmas with our families this year. Well, that doesn't mean that we can't bring a little Christmas cheer to our apartment down here! While it is hard to get into the spirit of the season when its almost 100 degrees out, but here's my best shot!


Today we had a day off of school for a religious holiday here in Paraguay called Caacupe. The article below explains much better than I ever could what this day is all about, so if you have a little time and want to learn a little about Paraguay give it a read!

Sunday, December 5, 2010


A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to head up to Brazil for a week with our high school sports teams for a tournament that we call Rancho. I say we call it Rancho because its actual name is the Big 8 Tournament and our reasons for calling it Rancho would make a whole other blog post. The tournament pits ASA against 7 American style schools from Brazil. We competed against schools from Rio de Janiero, Sao Paulo, Brasilia, and more. The best parts about the trip however were that I didn't have to pay for it and that is was not in a city, but about a 2.5 hour bus ride outside of Sao Paulo in the middle of nowhere in the mountains.

Adam, Jenny, Molly, and I on the bus ride with Cons peeking her head in between.

The girl's soccer team preparing for their first game.

The other basketball coach, Adam, and I along with a few of the other male coaches/chaperones slept in a dorm room with all the guys. This meant there were approximately 30 guys packed in there pretty closely as you can see below. Consider yourselves lucky that Bill Gates hasn't invented Smell-O-Vision yet because it was not the most pleasant place by the end of the week!

The view of part of the complex from the front porch of our dorm.

The girl's basketball team playing in, and dominating, their first game. They didn't have a challenge all tournament just like the girl's soccer team.

Mai scoring one of the girls' goals with an impressive back heel off of a corner kick on their way to a 9-0 win in this game. She's so proud of this picture!

The guys' soccer team had a much harder road to the championship game and played incredibly well for most of the tournament. The girls' team was so dominant that their games were over by halftime, but the guys' games were all close and exciting.

After the game, Adam, Molly, Steve and I went for a hike up the mountain to get a look at some of the beautiful Brazilian countryside.

The cluster of buildings that you see in this picture is part of the camp. As you can see we were quite isolated which added to the charm of the place. The kids couldn't even get reception for their Blackberrys!

Tough place to spend the week but someone had to do it!

On the night before all of the Championship games, we got word that the uncle of one of our athletes (and father of one of my 9th grade students) had passed away suddenly and unexpectedly. It was a rough night, but I was touched and very proud of the way all of our athletes and coaches (and the athletes and coaches from other teams as well for that matter) came together to help and support each other. One of the greatest strengths of Paraguayan culture is how everyone helps everyone else (within their social class anyway) in times of need. The flag below says "Be strong Gorostiaga family, ASA is with you" and the guys here are holding it before playing in the championship game of the soccer tournament.

The championship game went into a shootout and here is a picture of one of our players scoring on a penalty kick in that shootout. Our guys won when a player for the other team widely acknowledged by all schools to be the biggest jerk at the tournament missed his penalty kick. Don't say Karma doesn't exist!

The guys singing and chanting at the girls' championship game after their big victory.

Picture with the basketball team as we were waiting for the bus to leave. We finished 3rd in the tournament but Adam and I were extremely proud of how we played and grew as a team through the tournament. 3rd is a really good result for us because most of our guys have been playing organized basketball for less than a year now and we really have no height and only have one guy who can hit an outside shot to save his life. They made us proud!

Overall ASA won the tournament championship for the 4th year in a row by winning championships in 3 of the 4 sports and throwing in our third place on top of that. It was a great week and a great experience that I won't soon forget. It brought be back to the days of high school basketball camps and tournaments which were some of my best high school memories so that just added to the fun. Since Adam is also heading to Bogota with us next year we're hoping that we can get involved with the team up there too.

Saturday, December 4, 2010


As I've said before on the blog, Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. No pretenses; just a good meal shared with close family and friends. With every year that passes where I am away for the holiday, I find that I value the day more and more. I've really learned to appreciate those around me and be thankful for all the opportunities that I have.

Well this year was spent again with close friends. Summer has finally hit Asuncion, unlike last year when it arrived in September, so the hosting house decided to throw a pool party/Thanksgiving dinner to take full advantage of the sunshine.
And it wouldn't be Thanksgiving without a little football.
The food was absolutely delicious, with everyone bringing a favorite dish from their family traditions. I think that might be my favorite part; hearing and eating everyone's traditions.
Of course, the Green Bay Packers had to be represented during the meal.
I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving. We are truly thankful for all of our family and friends, near and far.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Super Seven AKA The Bogotá Bunch

So, as some of you already know, Jesse and I are moving to Bogotá, Colombia in July. An interesting little factoid is that we already know a quite a few of our future co-workers, because they are our current co-workers! Last night we had a little fiesta to celebrate our future jobs.
It will be nice to start off in a new country, with new jobs, and already know our principal (Bob, on the right) and other people in the city!

Friday, November 19, 2010

In Your Face!

While Jesse is away at Rancho (will be explained later), I thought I would take this opportunity to share a high school event. As an elementary teacher, I don't often get to partake in high school events, but last week, there was a pep rally, and it happened to be during my prep time. So I went. And I'm glad I did. I think the pictures speak for themselves

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Spa Day

After the past few weeks, I decided I needed to take a personal day. Along with my neighbor and another teacher at school, we made spa day appointments. Along with the required hour massage, I also got a de-stressing facial, and a pulido.

What's a pulido you may ask? Good question. It is a complete body exfoliation. Let me describe. I put on my swimsuit, then was asked to get into a small room, with a plastic massage table. I climbed onto the table, then the employee, wearing a swimsuit herself, started to hose me down with a shower head. After that, she put on scrubby gloves, and proceeded to scrub my entire body. Hard. I turned over, and the scrubbing process started again.

After both sides had been scrubbed, I thought a quick rinse and we'd be off. Well, that's just not how thing happen here in the 'Guay. She rinsed me off yes, but then, I was washed by her. Soap was poured onto my body, and I was lathered up.

That wasn't everything. After the lathering, a quick massage ensued, then she started slapping my body to stimulate blood flow. It sounded really hilarious with the slapping sounds reverberating against the walls, and especially since my friends were next door and we could hear each other being slapped.

Good massage, good facial, interesting to say the least exfoliation. Overall, a successful spa day!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Jorge Gayoso, Remansito

Three years ago, a teacher started a Sunday program of going to an area, just outside of Asuncion, and feeding the students there and playing educational games with them. Well this little project has expanded into the Jorge Gayoso School, in the area of Remansito, becoming our school's sister school. The high school sends a community service group out there a few times a year, the middle school started a school supplies drive, and the elementary student council organized a clothing drive.

I'm not a student council leader, but I was asked by the teachers to help out on the day of the drive. The purpose of the drive was to collect gently used clothing from students and their families, go out to Remansito, sell the clothing for 2-3 mil (roughly 30-70 cents) a piece, then use the money to purchase books and other supplies for the school.

Nothing ever seems to go smoothly in Latin America, so of course, 15 minutes into our trip, the bus breaks down. So we had to unload the bus of all the clothes for the drive, and wait on the side of the road for another bus to come.
But we did make it there, with all the student council students safe and sound, with plenty of time to set up shop.
There were a lot of people waiting for us to open shop.
We had native Spanish speakers manning the registers, just to make sure everything went smoothly. We also weren't sure how many of the parents would speak Spanish or Guarani (native indigenous language) so Lorenzo was a big help in making sure it went great!
The elementary school had collected over 2000 pieces of apparel. This is a picture of the baby clothes/toy room.
It seemed as if everyone from the community came out to shop. Here, a little girl and her big brother!
All in all, the student council collected plenty of money to put back into the same community, through books, notebooks, a lock for the office door, and other miscellaneous school supplies that they need.

On a side note, our school also just purchased new desks and chairs, and the old ones are being donated to Jorge Gayoso as well. So our school is definitely giving back to those in the community who are in need. Our elementary students did so well during this event, that I'm sure more events like this will come.

Sunday, November 7, 2010


Can you guess who Jesse and I are?
The Big House had their traditional party, and all big house inhabitants dressed thematically, pirates and gypsies.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Laguna Blanca- on the water

During our camping trip, we wanted to spend as much time in or on the water as possible. This was a little difficult, since the weather didn't cooperate for half the time. But we were still able to keep ourselves busy. The ranch had a rowboat, a canoe and several kayaks left over from the 70's available for rent. The decision was made to go fishing.

The poles that the ranch had to offer were the classic Tom Sawyer style- a stick with a string and a hook on the end.
What to use for bait? Well good thing Jesse and Danielle are such good grasshopper catchers! They caught plenty for us to use.
We all climbed into the boats to head out and try our luck in catching supper.
Jesse was the only lucky one to catch a fish. Since we only caught one, we threw him back. But the fish was a tilapia, one of my favorites!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Laguna Blanca

Last weekend we had a much needed, five day spring break. In our effort to see more of Paraguay, we hired a driver, packed up the tent and supplies, and headed to the elusive Laguna Blanca. Teachers had spoken of hearing of a white sand beach with a lake of crystal clear water, but some thought this was a myth. Its not. Paraguay does have a spring fed, crystal clear lake, surrounded by a nature reserve. In fact, there is a team of scientists there right now studying the flora and fauna of the area, and have found what they believe are two new species of frogs.

Anyway, we went with three other couples, Kathryn and Lorenzo, Jac and Guille, and Danielle and Kagan. All of our supplies barely made it into the van, but soon we were on our way. The laguna is partly owned by a man who runs a ranch nearby and rents out cabins and offers camping as well. It is incredibly hard to get to. Three hours on paved roads, and then another hour on dirt roads, that include four of the sketchiest bridges I've ever been on . Think planks of wood across little creeks. Super scary in a big van!

We got there, set up our tent, and explored the lake a bit. We spent three days there, and it was a wonderful way to get out of the city and enjoy the nature of Paraguay.
We played quite a few games of sand soccer. They resulted in injuries for almost everyone.
We also took a few hikes around the lake to look around. Jesse will be doing a post later on some of his findings.
Since it is anaconda mating season, we were hoping to see one, but alas, we didn't find one. We didn't even see a tarantula. Maybe we'll have more luck on our next camping excursion.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Newest Piece of Furniture

We went downtown a few weeks ago and came back with this! A little Paraguayan stool to be our souvenir. Surprisingly, its pretty comfortable!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

What is he doing? What is that?

The arm you see is Jesse's. What he is doing is cutting is the layer of skin off of a slab of bacon before he slices it himself. Yup, we are starting to slice our own bacon. This is supposedly the best bacon our middle school principal has found in Asuncion. We'll let you know after we eat it.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Club Mbegua

In an effort to get out of our suburbia bubble, I spoke with a few teachers who are married to Paraguayans to get a few ideas. One of those ideas was to take the ferry across the Paraguay River/Asuncion Bay to a place called Club Mbegua (pronounced Bay-wah- is Guarani for a type of bird). Apparently Paraguay is the birdwatching capital of the world, with more species in the country than anywhere else. The teacher that I spoke to said that it would be a good time to cross the bay because all the migratory birds are currently migrating and we might be able to see some cool birds. Well, we did see some birds, so she was right. But more than that, we saw a glimpse into Paraguay's past.

Remember the resort that Baby and her family go to in Dirty Dancing? Kellerman's? Fifty years ago, Club Mbegua was the Paraguayan version of Kellerman's. Now it is a decrepit, falling down, country club-esque area that could be absolutely beautiful. Walking around was almost eery. Visions of horror films at the abandoned country club definitely went through our minds. I imagine that when the country was under the control of the dictator, this place would have been an ideal place to go for a family picnic, to host sporting events, weddings, special events, everything. But it appears that no one has really used the place since the dictator fell out of power.
We did get to take an amazing/scary/how-is-this-boat-actually-moving-this-might-be-the-first-engine-made-in-Paraguay boat ride across the river. This picture doesn't quite do the boat justice. The engine was right in front of Jesse, and we paid the driver $4 to take us across.

Back to the club, there were a few people laying around by the kiddie pool, and it appears as though the local crewing team uses the club to store their boats and use the river to practice, but the rest was deserted.
The big pool. Jesse and Kagan are practicing their front crawl.
The nice thing about the area was that we got a pretty decent view of Asuncion from the other side of the bay.
Who knows what we'll see next time we leave our bubble!