To me, the words “Beautiful People” have always meant the famous, tanned and fancy folk. However, I’ve learned a new meaning for the phrase. I spent four days with a family that was truly, truly beautiful in so many ways it would be hard to list them. Here’s how my experience went.
All of us in training were put in groups of four to travel to the site of current, working volunteers, Nalena and Jon. (See my last post for more information on this great couple). They were our assigned volunteers who hosted us in the lovely town of Villarrica, for what is called Long Field Practice. We made the excursion with Aurelio, our Spanish teacher. He is Paraguayan, and knows all the best places to visit. We stopped in Paraguari, a cool little town along the way, and bought fresh fruit, nuts, cold drinks. Paraguari is now on my list of places to go for fun things. I found a great little embroidered tote bag for my papers and notebooks.
We went through lots of quaint little towns in our 2-3 hour drive, landing in Villarrica. Then, we were there, in front of the grand church in the middle of town, with a landscaped city square, where taxis were provided by charming, roughly-made horse-drawn carriages.
When I arrived at my host family’s home, I was met by the smiling, warm Jorge Monges, a retired professor of education, and his handsome son, also named Jorge, along with sweet Fidencia, who prepares the most fabulous meals and keeps everything gorgeously spotless. Later, the lady of the house, Teresa, slender, lovely, professional, a biblioticaria, arrived from work along with the other (also handsome) son, Diego.
From there, began a fairytale story. The whole family loves good music and we had glorious classical pieces flowing throughout the house at all times. Jorge would pick a special piece for dinnertime, we’d sit down and have a blessing, then enjoy a tasty meal of roast pork with seasoned rice, manioca, a grand salad. Other nights we had meatballs in an amazing broth, gnocchi, special breads, the works. But that’s not all. Each morning, waiting for me, was a toasted ham sandwich, or toast with butter and marmalade, along with hot cocido and milk. Heavenly.
My room was up a tiny spiral stairway, above the back patio. It was a super-clean, hardwood floored room with tiled bath, armoire, desk. And best of all, a comfy bed, with good-feeling, good-smelling sheets piled high with blankets. The house and attachments were all designed by Jorge’s sister, I believe, (not always sure of my understanding of Spanish) who is an environmental architect. The roof has a sophisticated thatch system, topped by metal, to insulate for both sweltering summers and frigid winters. The raindrops at night were musical.
All of this ambience, along with our nightly conversations were what did it for me. I had my handy iPad with me and would look up any unexpected Spanish words and translations needed. (Although I’m thinking my Spanish vocabulary is growing, there are always the words that come up and throw me off. I can lose the whole meaning of a conversation if I miss the meaning of one word!). We all learned lots of details about each other – there were tears and laughter – and many hugs.
But before I finish this story, I have to tell you about my episode with a Carpincho was really funny, crazy. Apparently, these weird animals wander the city park in Villarrica and don’t seem to mind attention at all. However, I didn’t fully know this. I squatted down on my haunches to pat one of the sleepy, lazy critters and when it moved slightly, I was caught off guard and fell backwards onto the ground! What a laugh. I think my friend Alecia caught all of this on video. Afterwards, my left foot felt a little odd, bruised, but I dismissed it. we walked quite a bit more through the city, up the inclines of the cobblestone streets, and I then began to notice more pain in my foot. As it worsened, my foot grew slight bigger and I was truly unable to walk on it. My buddies helped me hobble to the car, I got home to my sweet family, and they began their comforting ways. One found a footstool and pillow, to elevate my foot. The other pulled out blankets for cover, and hot codico was immediately served to me as part of the healing processes. My foot was wrapped in an ace bandage and by morning, everything was greatly improved and I was able to walk without pain! I don’t hold any of this against the funky Carpinchos. They were just doing their job, receiving pats on the back.
I feel that the Monges family is my family away from home. I know that I am always welcome there. We are planning regular visits and they tell me my sweet little upper room will be waiting for me. Their characteristics of love, joy, peace, kindness and more, have given me this new definition for “Beautiful People.”