Friday, June 25, 2010

Paraguay Year 1 in Photos

Well since Jenna posted about what we are looking forward to in Wisconsin over the next month, on our last day before heading back I thought it would be appropriate to post a look back over our year. Most of these pictures have appeared on the blog at some point during the year (so I apologize to those few loyal readers who will have already seen them all), but they represent the best of what we've done in South America so far and are some of my personal favorites from the year. Enjoy and we'll see most of you very soon!
The classic picture of the moai quarry at Ranu Raraku on Easter Island.

Ahu Tongariki the largest collection of moai on Easter Island.

Machu Picchu which appeared clearly to us after 24 hours straight of rain on the Inca Trail.

A condor in Colca Canyon in Peru (which is actually deeper than the Grand Canyon).

An old cattle loading gate in a field in southern Chile.

View from the lighthouse at Cabo Polonio in Uruguay.

Valparaiso, Chile the day after Christmas when a nearby forest fire was raining ash on the town and making the whole place look like an antique photograph.

Part of Iguazu Falls on the Argentine side.

Plaza de San Francisco in Quito, Ecuador.

Paraguay vs. Argentina game where Paraguay qualified for the World Cup!

Me taking a look down over Quito from near the peak of Rucu Pichincha.

The famous colorful houses and buildings of the "La Boca" neighborhood of Buenos Aires.

Me standing on the Ecuator!

Our HOG! (OK so it's only a 150 cc Leopard)

Plaza de Heroes in downtown Asuncion.

A few of my chemistry students on our last day of class.

Last but not least (and I'm still amazed by this some days) the cobblestone street that we live on.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Counting Down

Right now, it is Monday night of the last week of our first year in Paraguay. It has been crazy hectic around here, trying to finish grades, go out to farewell dinners, continuing to train for the half marathon, and of course, catching as many World Cup games as possible. It hasn't quite sunk in yet that in less than a week, we will be back in Wisconsin seeing family and friends. These Wandering Wisconsinites will be heading back to the dairy state for some much needed r&r. Things that we are definitely looking forward to (well besides the obvious- seeing family and friends)
- Brewer's game
- testing out the new camping equipment we have been slowly purchasing over the last few months
- seeing a new nephew be born
- dark, good, tasty, delicious beer
- the cabin
- Hodag Music Festival
- Italian cheese fries, Wisconsin style
- grilled bratwurst
- canoeing
- trip to Minneapolis
- cheddar cheese
Oh Wisconsin- we'll be there soon!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Iguazu Falls

One aspect of living in a country that is more difficult to get to from the U.S. than anywhere else in the hemisphere, is that family and friends coming down to visit is an very large exception to the rule. We were pumped to meet up with Dad in Peru, and thought that that would be it for our first year in the southern hemisphere. Well, we were wrong.

Spending time on Facebook, I came across a message that dear friends Jaren and Bobbi had booked their honeymoon in Buenas Aires with a side trip to Iguazu Falls. Well, well. Iguazu is only a short five hour bus ride away from us. We got in contact and decided to meet up on their day at Iguazu.

Iguazu Falls are located on the border between Argentina and Brazil, right where Paraguay meets up with them. They were created when the continental plates rammed up against one another. One went down, one went up, and where the river was, over 200 beautiful cascades of water erupted. There are two sides to the falls, Brazilian and Argentine, and we only went to the Argentine side. It is well set up, with a railroad that runs on natural gas (therefore no air pollution), bridges and trails leading along the path of the falls and some beautiful viewing points. This might have been one of the coolest things I've ever seen. Since my eloquence can only go so far, here are some of my favorite pics and some videos.
The four of us, on the platform of the Garganta del Diablo (Devil's Throat). Video below of the craziness!
Can you see the toucan above?
The best part of the day was when we took a boat tour on the river below the falls, and went under some of those falls you see in the photo above. Good thing we have good rain gear, we got soaked!
Below are two videos, one is an overview of Garganta del Diablo, and the other one is an overview of another part of the falls. Enjoy!

It was fantastic getting to see Jaren and Bobbi, especially since we were unable to attend their wedding. This also officially starts our countdown for our return to the US!

Tierra Nuestra

A few weeks ago, (I realize I am very behind in posting, bear with me, its been a rough/busy couple of weeks!) our fifth grade class had our big overnight trip to an estancia out in the campo. There is a non-profit foundation called Fundacion Tierra Nuestra that goes around to different schools in Asuncion and the neighboring suburbs and teaches the kids about ecology, the environment, and different ways to care for the earth. This fundacion raises money by having camping trips for schools that have a money. Our kids pay money (almost $100) to spend two days camping in a bunk type setting with different counselors doing all sorts of activities. I fully support the idea and I think its a great way for the fundacion to raise money while getting our students out of the city and realizing that there are different things to do instead of watching TV. In fact, our students were not allowed to bring any electronics with them on the trip, except for a camera.
We traveled by bus for almost 2 hours to get to the estancia. The location was absolutely beautiful, with a view of the Paraguayan hill in the background of the soccer field.
The fundacion had some excellent games and activities for the kids, including making instruments from recycled materials, making chipa (a bread made from mandioca flour), night games with scary stories, and free time to ride horses and play soccer.
It was a great way to spend some time with the students outside of the classroom and a test to my Spanish skills since the whole weekend was in Spanish! I was proud of myself when my American students were asking me to translate for them the scary story, because usually, its the other way around!