Saturday, August 14, 2010

So, they keep things interesting in Paraguay too?

For all you Rotary students out there- I challenge you to break this record: From the time I left my house to the time I arrived at my new one, I had traveled on 3 planes, 2 busses, a tram, and 2 cars, had over 5 flight delays, almost got deported from a country, spent the night in an empty airport terminal, and had a total travel time of 43.5 hrs. Haha, just writing that I can't help but laugh- now that I'm here I know these past two days will make a good story some day.
Like I had said last, Celia, one of the very nice Rotarians that took me in, had gotten us tickets to Asuncion and we had planned on getting to Formosa by car from there. Turns out luck was on our side a little last night- our flight was almost the only one that was only delayed, not canceled. Everything went smoothly, we filled out our forms for immigration and made it though the line perfectly.... But I didn't get to go any further than that. When preparing to come down to Argentina, I was told that I would have a Tourist Visa- and that every 90 days I would go to another country to renew my visa in Argentina. Back home, we had discussed how part of my Rotary club here is in Paraguay, how my host parents own a home across the boarder and how in just over a week my host sister is going to Germany via the Asuncion airport- so I knew I would be traveling back and forth over the boarder. But I guess that isn't exactly how it works. So, instead I found myself being led upstairs to an abandoned terminal where I was to stay the night until the first flight back to Buenos Aires in the morning.
Here is where my gratitude to Rotary International cannot be expressed enough. When I became stuck, the 3 Rotarians I had just met 6 hours before fought for me like
I was their daughter. In the hour or two that I was sitting upstairs, that group of 3
Rotarians quickly grew to a group of 8 or more from the area who also worked every string they could to get me out. I explained myself and my situation to the immigration worker, his superiors, and even a few men who worked the night shift in the airport but without the work of the group of Rotarians I have NO doubt in my mind I would be sitting in the Buenos Aires airport right now. But, at 3:30 in the morning, the kind lady that had stayed with me throughout the night told me that it was time to go. Thinking she meant to my plane, I packed up my backpack and went back through the immigration desk to the same man that had stopped me before. This time, however, he stamped my passport and told me that I had a one-time-5-hr transit visa and that I would be able to leave with this couple to get to Formosa. I'm very fuzzy on the details- but I guess they know someone who is connected through Rotary and who knows someone who is the head-visa-person in Paraguay, who then called the airport and told them to let me go. In a wave of shock and relief unlike any other I've ever experienced-
I found myself staring up at the beautiful stars glowing in the jet-black sky of the southern-hemisphere as we drove through open country roads on my way to Formosa.
I woke up this morning to a huge bucket of meat in the kitchen, spanish music blasting through the walls, and a giant smile on my face. And now here I am, in my room in my new casa with a family that has been so welcoming and nice to me. I just had lunch with my first and second host families, and love them both :)
Without further ado- I am going to go enjoy Argentina, if you don't mind. I am going to get used to this new life for a while and write in a week or so. To everyone headed off to college- have an AMAZING time this year! To all those exchange students leaving in the next week or so- SUERTE y AMOR a Uds.!

9 comments:

Murrkat said...

A bucket of meat!!?!? Noway...

Barb Westre said...

Wow, Maria! Congratulations on having such a great attitude and thanks for sharing. You've taught your "old" aunt something... The next time I think things are tough, I'll think of what you went through and how calm you were. Have a wonderful time in Argentina (now that you're finally there!) and we look foward to hearing of your adventures. Love, Aunt Barb

tmeyer said...

You know I was talking to Luke one of those nights where all that delaying was going down...he had me worried. Glad you made it down ok. And the end of your post was tantalizing...I can't wait to see what happens next.

Erin said...

MARIA! remember how we joked about you getting deported the day that you left? ironic. haha but i am so glad that everything is going well right now. nobody could have handled that as well as you did. keep being awesome and congrats on making it to ARGENTINA! i can't wait to read your next blog:) keep having a fabulous time! LOVE you!

Eli said...

That sounds crazy! I hope nothing that extreme happens to me :p hope you are enjoying your time in Argentina! I can't wait to be down there!

ellen said...

Oh my good Lord Maria!!! Your story sounds gripping....yet in true form you handled it like a champ!! May your days ahead be more restful and peaceful as you settle into your new home. Hugs and love.

Carly Davidson said...

oh my dear you are a trooper. i just talked to my mom on the phone today and she told me about you "troubles", for lack of a more complicated word. I told her that had that happened to me, i would have been in a corner in the brasilia airport sobbing. haha i am so happy that you finally made it. WELCOME TO SOUTH AMERICA :) You are going to have an amazing time and we should definitely skype in the next couple of weeks :)

Jennifer Hulsey said...

WOW and Double WOW that's about all I can say!!!! Now that's quite a way to start your adventure! What a trooper..enjoy your time now!! Jennifer

Ashley Tollefson said...

Maria!!! I can't believe your story! I'm pretty sure that no one will ever beat that record of yours:) Awesome work with communicating so much in Spanish on your first day in the country...that's not easy to do. I love that, in true Estenson spirit, you already have a million connections. The head visa person in Paraguay? Really?? That's amazing. haha I love it. Keep that smile on and take in every second of your adventure!
And doble ojo for those hot men with the dreaded mullets... :)