Saturday, March 9, 2013


February 18, 2013


We knew it was going to be a long day in the car – 12 hours – so we began our journey at 7AM.  The border crossing between Paraguay and Brazil went quickly, praise God.  For a family of 8 that is no easy feat.  We carry a suitcase full of all our documents: birth certificates, marriage certificate, Paraguayan identification cards, US passports plus Paraguayan passports for some of the kids, car registration and license, plus our last fast food receipt.  

Once in Brazil we were flying down the highway....or so it seemed to us.  The smooth roads with brightly painted lines allowed us to travel at speeds we never could attempt in Paraguay for fear of hitting a cow or running over an ox cart.  Adventures in Odyssey, books, games, and lunch in the car allowed us to pass the time without hearing too many, “Are we there yet?”

At 7PM the end was in sight if we only stayed on the loop around Curitiba.  Instead, we found ourselves thrust in the middle of downtown.  Partly due to poor road planning and partly due to our complete ignorance of the town, we drove and drove and drove in circles going every which direction but the one we so desperately needed.  We went wrong way do one way avenues ran red lights (because our eyes were on street names) and drove through a pretty shady neighborhood as the sky was getting darker and darker.   An hour and a half later we finally were back on the loop heading out of town.

At 9:00 we exited the highway and drove 2 kilometers down a narrow road overgrown with trees and vines, not a life form or light in site.  This time we were following signs to a location we found on the internet: a water park with chalets to rent.  Now I have travelled in a developing country long enough to not get hopes set too high when we start off on adventures such as these.  In the car we tried to prepare our kids for a possible let down – the waterpark may not be open, there could be no water in the pool, a waterpark in South America may consist of just one tiny slide into a 3 foot pool.  And when the advertisement said “chalets” available, even though my mind envisioned scenes of Switzerland, I tried to be prepared for anything. 

We reached the front gate; it was closed and frankly looked like no one had entered in a year, but then again it was completely dark.  Jeff clapped and clapped, honked our horn and yelled and still no one came to let us in.  There was no plan B.  Well, I guess technically plan B was to sleep in our car – a very real possibility and one that we had to resort to last year.  No one was in favor of that, so Jeff clapped, honked and yelled some more.  After 30 minutes the care take opened the gates.  The park closed at 6, but he let us in anyway and showed us to a chalet. 

Remember the thing about not getting hopes up, because you really don’t know what to expect in a foreign country?  Well, let’s just say that even though my expectations were low, I was in shock as I looked at the prospect for the evening.  The opening of the door sent 5 big, black tarantula-like spiders scurrying to all corners of the room.  The thin sheetless mattresses were set upon rotting plywood and precariously balanced on the metal bunk bed frame.  Ants covered the walls encircling their prey.  Dirt and grime screamed out from every surface. 

Regardless of dirt, first thing is first when you are 8 months pregnant – the bathroom.  Nothing could have prepared us for this bathroom.  The smell was horrible.  The sewage which abounded in and around the toilet had obviously been stagnant a while.  I immediately had to rush outside to wretch in the bushes.  The kids, catching a whiff of the smell that was now hovering over the entire chalet, began making gagging sounds as well. 

If we were willing to sleep among dirt and ants and spiders, we drew the line at sewage.  Jeff immediately set off on foot in the pitch darkness (why does this place have no lights?) to find the man who had checked us in.  Did I mention that it is pouring down rain?  Jeff has no umbrella and the kids and I have no shelter.  We were standing outside getting absolutely drenched because it was better than being inside with “the smell”.  It took a while for Jeff to find the man and for him to declare our place unlivable. 

We loaded all our bags back into the car (which got drenched in the processes) and drove to the next chalet.  Praise God, this one was better (not good, just better), but we were all willing to stay the night knowing what the alternative was.  We stood in the little room wet, shivering, hungry and very tired.  It was the beginning of a wonderful vacation....after all, it could only get better.

1 comment:

Christie said...

Can't wait to read about how it got better! Man, y'all had a TIME! Doesn't it stink when 'vacation' turns out to be more stressful than a regular day at home?