Fr. Wm Corby Division and Associates, Fairfax Station, Virginia

Peru Trip Log by Sharon Kourtz

 

Tuesday, August 10th, 2010

 

Got in on time, all is well. The Pharona Grand Hotel in Miraflores is beautiful, quiet (www.faraonagrandhotel.com), Egyptian theme. Lima is very clean. flight was fine.  Collin arrived hungry. Peru keyboard is different than ours...not easy to navigate and find the ‘at’ key!..in an emergency only, Bill Seiler has a cellular phone; we will check e-mail when we can.

The Lima airport is beautiful, more modern than Dulles and National…able to easily change dollars to soles there.  Hector was there to pick us up.  He is from Peru, but lived in CA for a while.  He has a son in North Dakota.  I trust him, and he takes his job seriously. We go on a city tour of Lima today at 9:30 a.m.  Weather is about 65 degrees right now but it is winter here still there´s lots of palm trees. Taxi took us past the Pacific Ocean, real pretty.

 

PS - Postage is very expensive; will need to cut back on planned post cards. No Kleenex, No TP in Toilets! Hard to remember to use bottled water to brush teeth!  Using lots of hand sanitizer…Careful about fresh fruits and vegs.

 

Most signs are nicely translated into English.  There has been some walking but not overwhelming. Collin is using his Spanish nicely.

 

The group is very nice.  Fr. Kenney stayed with the Claretians at St. Mary’s in 1987 when he went to Catholic U. and he knows Shari Zmarra and Peg Teleska. 

 

Wednesday, Aug 11th, 2010

 

We went on a tour of Lima this morning.  We went to the Franciscan Monastery here; amazing; the sanctuary is huge and impressive, lots of lovely art work from the 1400's.  Many of the tiles on the wall look like the ones in our living room foyer; imported from Spain.  Many ceilings are made with carved teak wood with no nails or glue, and have survived earthquakes quite well.  The tombs below sort of had the "raiders of the lost ark" feel with skulls and bones, etc. A week after we got home, two priest were murdered in soup kitchen run by this monastery; robbery was the suspected motive.  We went to their Post Office Museum; first “postmen” delivered fresh fish from Lima to Cuzco on foot!  There’s a statue with a woman that has a llama above her head; apparently the word “llama”, and “fire” are the same in Peruvian Spanish, and therefore instead of fire, the sculpture has a llama.

 

After lunch we went shopping in an area with lots of stores/booths...I purchased a nice alpaca sweater (bargained!) and Collin bought a funky looking hat.  We walked back to the hotel, and Collin bought some water and gator aide in a glass bottle...he was very good at communicating. We stopped at what I thought the guide said was "Loaf" park, but it end up being "Love Park!"  Sort of like our 7,000 “birds”  (births) in the hospital when we were in Dublin!  It was on the beach.  There were lots of hang gliders with no boats or anything just the wind current; no, Collin and I did not go hang gliding, but I took a picture to show my mom, and pretend it was us!


The group came back to the hotel after the tour at about 1p.m., then we all walked to a lovely Restaurant (called Haiti) and ate outside; the food was excellent.  Collin had pasta; I had a creamy onion soup. It was a perfect way to bond for our tour together. Lots of people came up to us asking for $. 


It is sort of weird, because we are asked to turn in our room key every time we leave the hotel, so when we come back, we just ask for the room key by number and they don’t ask for ID!  And we have to turn in our passports for photo-copying. Oh well. Collin enjoys surfing the TV channels and hearing Hollywood sitcoms translated into Spanish.  He giggles his signature laugh and that makes me laugh too. 

 

We went to dinner at CostAzulseafood.com and had a lovely civiche dinner with pisco sours, special corn, octopus, and scallops.  The restaurant was open only for us; had signatures from people all over the world on the walls.  Owner and friend entertained us with lots of songs from the 60’s and 70’s.  It was fun to sing along.

We leave for Chimbote tomorrow morning, and was told there is construction so it will take closer to 7 hours.


Thursday, August 12th, 2010

 
Took a first class double decker bus ride to Chimbote on Cruz del Sur; nice chicken dinner, movies (with Eng subtitles; The Knowing, Alice in Wonderland, Norbit, etc., bingo, etc.  Fr. Kevin won bingo, and gave his free ticket to a nun in front of us.  Desolate trip; no trees, isolated road (two-way), followed coast, sand dunes everywhere; several grave sites like you see in a western movie. Road was under construction (turned off into a cornfield to detour the road construction.)  Got to Chimbote about 4:30.  Mission has a nice Ford Van.

Went to evening mass at a nearby chapel that also houses the clinic…very few people took communion.  It was the Feast of the Assumption.  Friendly dogs enjoyed the ceremony, too.  Three people were baptized, one Confirmed. Three priests. 

 

We met the families which were going to get the beds and stoves that we were to deliver the next day, and took lots of pictures…a very touching and humbling experience. Lots of smiles, people friendly, well groomed.  We took down the beds to get the room ready for the party tonight.

 

At midnight there was a party where people “woke up” Fr. Jack to celebrate his birthday.  Live band, lots of fun, had pastries and sweet coffee (real sugar cane, yum.)

 

Friday, Aug 13th, 2010

 

Went to a morning prayer service and sat next to a lovely lady who shared her hymnal, prayer book. Teresa Sanchez has 8 kids; gave her a medal from St. Mary’s.

Today we went out to deliver beds and stoves to families.  Thought I was mentally prepared;  not sure I really was; the second house we went to had a Mickey and Minnie Mouse birthday plastic table cloth and Winnie the Pooh picture on the wall; the Irony of the Disney influence is weird.  I think we all live in a fairy tale world.  I can’t describe the living conditions adequately. I will say that camping would be easier, I think.  Teresa and her family received one of the beds. When I showed her a pix of my family, she commented that my family was “complete.”  When you think of the “Old Mother Hubbard who went to the cupboard", these families have no cupboards or refrigerators and don’t expect to have food to store.

We went to the clinic run by the mission.  Very few supplies; limited plastic gloves.  Most of the meager supplies and equipment has been donated by US Americans.

We went to the mission hospice this afternoon.   It is the only one in Peru.  It is beautiful...they take laundry up to the roof to dry.

 

Accommodations at the mission are fine; dorm style with keys that fit dorm rooms, etc…quirky shower, but works.  Hairdryer and curling iron works. Can lock up passports.

 

Met Jaimie (Himee) a gentle, shoeless Peruvian giant who grunts rather than talks.  He walks with a pronounced limp due to one leg being shorter than another.  Often he sits in Fr. Jack’s seat on the altar. He was in the first row at an evening wedding.  (Wedding dresses are shared at the mission, so there is no expense to the bride.)


Also met Maruhah, a lovely blind lady who is in charge of the day to day household duties at the mission.  Her hands are curled.  She speaks beautiful English and 5 other languages.  Amazing.

 

Lots of volunteers from all over the world; England, Germany, Japan, etc.  One family had 3 generations, grandma, daughter in law and 2 grand daughters.

 

Dirt streets around mission are all torn up; replacing sewer lines, etc.  There was one back hoe; most all of the digging is done by hand shovel.  Lots of political posters for upcoming national/regional election even on mountain tops with sand etched or rocks shaped in letters for publicity.

 

It is extra fun being here for Fr. Jack’s birthday. They sang HB to him in English and Spanish at Mass, then The young marching band practiced all morning and played for him at about 11; They are setting up for another party for him this afternoon in the courtyard.

 

I really feel much less stress here than I felt at work camp last summer, since I am not responsible for 6 teenagers!

 

Collin is helping to do so much. His Spanish comes in handy, though I think people talk faster than he can usually understand.

 

There was a lovely ceremony-- Dedicated the local public school to Fr Jacks mother. Us (gringos) had seats of honor. Kids sang, danced, local politicians spoke, etc.  It was very nice to be a part of this.  Served a potato dish and cake.

There was another lovely (loud) party for Fr. Jack after a prayer service on Friday night.  It was a blast.  Like a talent show.  Many groups performed, and several of the younger volunteers including Collin did a square dance.  Collin joked that it was an international all American square dance.  The kids practiced on the roof of the mission where they tend to hang out.  Collin was surprised that there are no barriers, etc.  A nice place to catch your breath or a smoke, I guess.

 

Collin helped to distribute the chicken and rice to all of the partiers.  It appeared quite organized from my perspective, I found out later that there was quite a commotion getting the food out of the kitchen to the group…people not involved with the party were there, and wanted (stole) some of the food.

 

We hve o get em a btter keyboard.  See.. his s a ameican keyboard wth peru monitor  I thnk. 

 

Saturday, August 14th, 2010

 

We went to a nearby beach with several mentally and physically handicapped people.  It was a perfect day.  All of the kids here are just adorable.  You would be so proud to see how Collin pitches in.  Glad there are so many younger men here...there are no handicapped accessible anything...buses, sidewalks, etc- and most wheel chairs are pitiful.  The boys did a lot of lifting. 

 

Just amazing the joy that was on the faces of the people we took to the beach.  Kids squeals of happiness are a universal language.  Isaac was the dedicated kid tosser-upper.  He was a great sport.  Put his football muscles to work. 

 

One of the buses had break trouble and so the three bus drivers left in the bus with the bad breaks to get that bus fixed.  They were supposed to be back by 2PM—they arrived closer to 2:30…it was a long half hour.  One of the soup kitchens made Arroz con Pollo for the lunch at the beach…a huuuuge pot of hot rice and chicken was put the bus, and a salad…with sodas.  Distributed to all in disposable bowls.  The condition of some of the wheel chairs are atrocious…a makeshift lawn chair with bicycle tires.  One lady (with no legs) was met by her husband with a three wheel cart…had to be lifted everywhere. Teresa was at the beach, too.  We sat together on the bus home.

 

Most of us took taxis to downtown Chimbote and went to a restaurant that the volunteers here recommended. The taxi rides were quite memorable, the horns (sound like Roadrunner’s beep-beep) are used to let the other cars know that we are taking the right of way, (I think). The streets are such that you can’t go more than 35 miles per hour...even on the interstates. One taxi we were in had over 221,000 miles on it, and I think the back wheel was rubbing the car.  Fr. Kevin was in that taxi with me, and I joked that everything was okay, ‘cause he could give us all last rites!  Well, luckily (in my opinion) the restaurant only had one plate of civiche  (raw fish) so I was okay not taking any...we had fried chicken that was cut up pieces with bones still on it.  Three people who went to dinner are not feeling topnotch today, I am fine. Collin and   Maggie (age 19, too) and Maggie’s mother (Arlene) did not go downtown with us.  They stayed at the mission and took a guard with them to go grocery shopping for dinner...long story short.  They ended up cooking spaghetti in a coffee pot, and somehow making sauce with tomato paste and canned tomatoes....They all laughed about it.

 

We had guinea pig for dinner a couple of nights ago.  I was brave since I ate the wild boar at the CIA, I thought it was only fitting that I try this dish...it was okay until one of the other volunteers said something about the toe nails still being attached...oh well, I think I still was a good sport.  (When I went to a Bible Study meeting at home and mentioned about the guinea pig…one of the participant’s moaned…last year she spent $1500 on a pet guinea pig that had a broken leg, and the leg still had to be amputated!  Oops!)

 

Sunday, August 15th, 2010

 

Today we helped with at a soup kitchen in the courtyard of the mission.  I was asked to be the godparent of one of the children. We were warned that this might  happen and were advised to decline, as it is a great financial responsibility if you accept.)  Then there was a group of ladies who were thrilled to have their picture taken with me, and they asked if I would give them a picture...so we hope to be able to print out some pictures at a photo store this afternoon. Mass is tonight at 8 pm.  It is very meaningful to attend mass and sit next to someone who tries to keep you up to speed in the missalette in Spanish. (I think most parishioners can read, which is very good...hopeful, at least)--- I gave some medals to the people who helped me at mass.

 

Maggie gave the mission dogs a nice bath and brushing.  They look much healthier now.

 

At evening mass all of the missioners were presented a nice plaque…what a surprise. 

 

We tried to be of assistance at the hospice this afternoon.  The person on duty had no idea that we were coming, so there was little to do...I got the dust off of the window/door screens, and Bonnie swept.  Arlene gave the patients a foot massage.  Collin took the remnants of the screen off of a door that is part of the housing for the oxygen tanks.  The building has lots of skylights, and the boys took a (too short) ladder and wiped down the skylights from the rooftop.  Too bad that several glass blocks somehow got dirt inside, and couldn’t be wiped down. 

 

One of my seatmates at mass (Teresa) who I gave a medal too, also went on the trip to the beach yesterday, and I sat with her on the way back to the mission.  She picked up some seaweed at the beach, and I think she told me that she was going to make some civeche for me. I was very relieved when I saw her this morning; she was selling hot tamales out in front of the mission.   I felt I had to buy one, (luckily not too many other people were around) so I gave the tamale to the guard at the hospice. 

 

It is quite eye opening that the hospice had no sanitizing solution, no window cleaner solution, and no paper towels...  not sure I saw any plastic gloves, either...

 

It has been an especially joyful week being here for Fr. Jack’s birthday.  The love that is shown is so much from the heart...you just can’t believe...the bands that played, the parties, the dancing, the flowers, cakes, etc.  We (the gringos) are still eating cake!

 

Can you imagine joy, hospitality and misery at the same time, and the words used in the same sentence? 

 

Please know that we are fine, it is an overwhelming feeling seeing so much need...but it is also not scary to be part of this mission...I asked about the support of the Chimbote Cathedral, (it is huge and gorgeous on the outside, like the national cathedral in DC) and was told that the money for that cathedral was given from Italy.  There is no support from the local Chimbote diocese that supports this mission or any other. I don’t know how this situation can be just ignored by the local diocese, or the local politicians.  

 

One of the translators told me that elections are coming up at the end of August, and that the election takes place on a Sunday, at the big schools, and everyone over 18 MUST vote, or else they have to pay a tax.  

 

We went downtown to develop pictures to give back to the people.  Collin enjoyed finding special pastries.  Isaac and Kristin purchased sneakers for one of Teresa’s boys who didn’t have any shoes.  We came back and had a light dinner with lots of cake…(kitchen was closed.)  Fr. Jack talked informally with us after dinner.  He shared several touching, and scary stories (targeted for being killed by the Shining Path, several of his priest friends were killed)…he’ll be in FFX the weekend of 9/25. 

 

Monday, August 16th, 2010

 

My grandpa always used to say, “take twice the money and half the clothes" In this case, he was totally correct. I left about half of my (wet) clothes in Chimbote. Weather was overcast so didn’t dry, Collin’s jeans were wet, too! Gave some clothes to Teresa. We didn´t need to spend much $ in Chimbote, but today the battered women’s support group had a small bazaar for us, gulp, hard to bargain knowing their situation.  I bought lots of Christmas presents.  Left as many clothes, towels, etc. as I could.

 

After the Bazaar, Fr. Jack spoke to the whole group, and he took us a on a tour of  the local daycare centers, soup kitchens, and teen centers and battered women’s shelter and libraries…my camera was not working but will not forget the tame birds in the open garden with guinea pigs at one of the soup kitchens.  The gov’t provides the beans and rice.  Families pay one sole, and rotate the kitchen duties with one paid person.  The families provide their own large bowl, and then they eat at home with their own family.  The mission supplies the facility and pays the head cook, etc.  The day care center had about 8 toddlers each.  Singing WaWa Wasi to the tune of Frere Jacque.  The day care centers and the soup kitchens had stone or cement floors, but that was the only evident requirement.  I think the soup kitchens had a fresh water source.  The day care centers get food for the children delivered by the gov’t in Tupperware type containers not heated or kept cold.  The sink on the wall of the day care center was not attached to any plumbing.  There were few books or toys, but the children looked clean and happy.

 

As we were leaving for the tour, Sr. Peggy was walking to the kitchen carrying a cloth sack with a live chicken;  we had fresh chicken and rice for lunch.

 

We said our goodbye's about 1:00 p.m. and went to the bus station.  Several people from the mission including the disabled girl from the violence center, Teresa and some of her family.  Her son brought his report card to show us, all A’s, and another family with a small child. Teresa said she was going to Lima to have some hospital tests.  Teresa gave me a scarf she made. We left though part of our hearts remain in Chimbote. 

 

The luxury bus got in to Lima about 6:30 or so.  It was a non-eventful ride, and shorter than the ride north.  We had to wait for Hector, so a lot of us got $ out of the machine. Arlene had a problem with the machine; the paper indicated that she took $400 out but no money was dispensed. We stopped for a nice dinner at a nice restaurant in Lima; the electricity went out for about a minute; we were all tired, but it was nice to be together, and see Hector again. We stayed in a safe “Hostel” that was a clean plain hotel at the Gemina@tsi.pe 51-1-477-0712.  It was quiet and also in Miraflores, I think.  No complimentary internet computer, though.  We passed the ocean and “Loaf Park” on the way to the hotel.
 

Tuesday, August 17th, 2010

 

We left for the airport at about 7:00 am to catch an 10 am flight to Cuzco; only to have the flight cancelled. Little did we know at the time, that we would be staking out seats in the food court at the airport more than once!  Hector was able to get us coupons for breakfast at McDonalds. 

 

After paying the $6 airport fee in cash, we caught the 1:15 pm flight, and went straight on the tour of Cuzco we were met with a lady passing out Coca tea for altitude sickness.  Some of the rocks are over 100 tons that are sculpted, and have been fitted together in such a pattern to highlight the seasons of the year, astounding, and the sun’s movement is so important, and as predicted, the placement is amazing.  The name Cuzco comes from “belly button” which is the center of the Incan symbol calendar.  Cuzco is 11,000 feet above sea level. 

 

Colin got one of his bad headaches, he got better immediately after taking the altitude sickness pill and even went to dinner with the group. I took the pill before we left Lima, so was fine.  The dinner was fun.  It was at a nearby restaurant (Inka Wall (50 soles) that had a beautiful buffet with llama, pork, beef, sushi, pisco sours, lots of desserts, and salads including entertainment.  One of Fr. Kevin’s parishioners, Jenny,  is studying alternative medicine here in Cuzco, and joined us for dinner.  It was interesting to hear how her daughter’s kidney stones were healed.  Jenny changed her flight back to Minn so she could see Fr. Kevin. She brought a nice personal touch to Cuzco.  We also bumped into a girl from Germany that we met at the mission.  Small World!

 

We had to walk up about three flights of stairs to get to the Hotel Suenos Del Inka www.suenosdelkina.com Calle Alabado 119 San Blas, and Collin and I were assigned room 401. Luckily the bell hops were more than happy to carry our bags, they deserved and got! a BIG tip!

 

Wednesday, August 18th, 2010

 

My 55th birthday.  We took pictures of the gladiolas on the breakfast table.  The hotel in Cuzco kept our big bags, and we took a small overnight bag on the train to Machu Pichu.  A four hour trip that goes 57 miles!  The busboy at the hotel (Machupicchu Santuario Hotel www.santuariohotel.com ) in MP picked up our overnight bags so that we could go directly on the tour of MP.  We had a perfect day; the bus had to climb a very, very steep mountain to get us to the top.  Machu Pichu is breathtaking; better than visiting the pyramids.  It is amazing the technology they had back then. The sun/shadow placements are intriguing.  The solstice is a large part of the Incan calendar.  The walking at Machu Pichu is very intense.  I took it easy, felt like an old woman.  There were millions of steps to climb, no guardrails, and I was wearing my glasses, the bifocals added to the challenge, it was fun but tiring.  I feel great.  The group had a candle in a piece of cake for at 8 o’clock very nice.  Words can’t do justice to the beauty here.  So glad to stamp my passport on my BD at MP!  Said goodbye to Fr. Kevin, Doug and Will at the top of the mountain, as they needed to get home for a wedding on Saturday. 


Thursday, August 19th, 2010

 

Collin and Maggie and her Mom (Arlene) went to the “hot” springs.  They are now luke warm due to the mud slides in January changing the water pattern.  Collin didn’t bring his bathing suit, so he wore khaki trousers…might as well have even more clothing wet!
 
The hotel in Machu Pichu had an interesting breakfast...instant Quinoa (sp?) with hot milk; it was really good.  They also had rice puffs and lots of fresh fruit. Apparently Quinoa is quite cheap here, so will look for some tomorrow to bring home. 


Bill, Isaac and Kristin went to the botanical gardens. Isaac and Kristin also took a long hike.  We leave to go back to Cuzco at 4:00 (4 hour train ride) then we have all day tomorrow in Cuzco and take the plane back to Lima.  I lingered over coffee overlooking at the pretty river that also serves as a power source for this part of the country.  There is lots of construction, going on to fix the mudslides from January.  Rebar was sticking straight out of the road in some spots!
 
We had to check out of the hotel at 9AM, at which point the reservation desk clerks started cleaning the lobby and the floors, etc.  We stored our small luggage, and the busboy met us at the train station at 3:00.  I was able to use the computer in the hotel lobby after check out.

 

We met back at the hotel at 1 pm and then went for lunch at a nice pizza place.  The poverty in all of Peru is monumental; even here; hard to explain, at least the people in Machu Pichu have a plastic type roof.  The hotel is surrounded with the huts/shanties of those without many luxuries like indoor plumbing...they are grateful for the tourist dollar. I purchased two small paintings from an artist here in MP.  He captured the poverty and joy in the same painting just like the people in Chimbote....I asked the artist where he lives...he said Cuzco...(a 3 1/2 hour train ride from here.)
 

We  had a 3 1/2 hour train ride from Machu Pichu back to Cuzco and traveled a total of 57 miles...it was uphill but less than 20 miles per hour???  yikes The hosts and hostesses on the train served smoked salmon sushi and a small piece of cake for a light dinner...not something that would be served as the only choice in the US!   They also put on a fashion show to try to sell the passengers alpaca sweaters, etc.

 

It was a train with a glass ceiling...what beautiful scenery.  We saw several glacier topped mountains...and some terrace farming. The fields are green in this part of Peru. Lots of flowers are in bloom...even though it is winter here.  I don´t think the standard of living is much better than what we saw in Chimbote, but the huts were not right on top of each other, in the country. And the poverty is interspersed among the businesses in the cities...hard to explain...I took pictures out of our two hotel windows...yikes! Some homes are made with adobe bricks here. Most homes have roofs. in this part of the country, so the people have more privacy. 


We saw one field where a row was on fire, obviously controlled, but it was pitch dark except for the fire; kind of cool.

There was one farmer on the top of the mountain just gazing at the sunset.  It was a peaceful site. Another universal sign of wonder like the children giggling at the beach.

 

Most people in our group are from the Midwest, either North Dakota or Minn.  It is interesting to hear the conversations about farming, etc.  Tonight Isaac (age 23 and will be farming his family farm soon) was talking about clover, and how difficult it is to dry and John (age 67) was mentioning how sugar cane uses much less energy (almost none) to process than sugar beet, so from an ecology stand point it makes more sense to use sugar cane than corn or beet.  (By the way, since we are watching our local water intake we are drinking more soda than we do at home...and the coca cola here us made with sugar cane rather than corn syrup...You can really notice the difference…much sweeter.)

 

We stayed Thursday night in the same hotel (Hotel Suenos Del Inka) before we left for MP.  It was nice to know ahead of time what to expect.  The busboys were ready for us!  Yes, the three flights of stairs getting to the hotel were still there, but Collin was able to negotiate a room on the second floor of the hotel.  It was a long day, but not tiring…(Arlene and Maggie left at Oh dot Hundred to catch their flights back to ND.)

 

Friday, August 20th, 2010 

 

We had to check out of the hotel, but were not picked up until 1:00 pm.  Bill, Collin and I walked to a lovely store that sold lots of Alpaca Items…yarn, coats, skins, coffee shop,  etc.  It was a really high class store, in a strange part of town…like a hiker/biker part of town.  The hotel clerk had called the store to say we were coming!  I bought some yarn as Christmas Gifts…then we took a taxi to a local grocery store I bought some instant quinoa (which would have much more significance the next day than I realized at the time.)…nice to get water without paying tourist prices.  …apparently the earlier flight we were scheduled to be on back to Lima was cancelled, so we were on the 3:00 pm flight.  This meant we did not tour Lima or the St. Rose of Lima Shrine…we got in at 4:00 and the 7 of us (Bonnie & John 12:20 am flight, Isaac & Kristin 10:40 pm flight, and Bill, Collin and I 10:55 flight.) had another long wait at the food court at the Lima Airport.  I wrote a few more postcards, and read a bit; we played cards, and chatted.  It was Bonnie and John’s anniversary on Sat. and also John’s birthday on Sunday. 

 

Although we were at the airport in plenty of time (even 3 hours before we were allowed to “check in.”)  It was nice that all flights back to the US appeared to be on time.  The layout of the terminal was such that we didn’t see any of our tour buddies after we paid the $31 exit tax, and went through security.  I was surprised that our gate at Spirit Airlines also had a security search…not official, but with a wand, etc., and people went through our bags. 

 

The flight was full.  We changed planes and went through US customs in Ft. Lauderdale.  (Just barely made it through customs on time … they actually called our names as “last call” on the plane.)  Since I purchased the quinoa, I checked the customs form that I was bringing food into the US…this necessitated that we go through the agriculture line, and I had the pleasure of having a full body scan at the security check point to get on to the plane in Ft. Lauderdale…(this was the fourth time through security- counting the gate at Spirit…) Long story short…they didn’t like that I had a credit card in a money belt…and wanted me to step into the “private” booth…Just then I heard our names announced as  Last Call on the flight back to Washington…I pulled out the money belt in front of the whole crowd…and begged to catch the plane.  We ran and made it!

When Paul met us at the airport, he was wearing a black suit and tie, sunglasses and a black hat* … with a welcome home sign.  (*aka “A mission from God” from the Blues Brothers --- quite clever!)

Had a trip of a lifetime… learned the difference between misery and poverty … and learned firsthand how hospitality and joy can exist in both … amazing.